Simple Ways to Use Food Scraps for Zero Waste Cooking

Food waste is a major problem around the world, with an estimated one-third of all food produced going to waste. This not only has significant economic and environmental impacts but also contributes to food insecurity for millions of people.

One way to combat food waste is through zero-waste cooking, which involves using every part of the food you buy or grow, including the scraps. By finding creative ways to use food scraps, you can reduce waste, save money, and even create delicious meals.

I like to look for as many ways as possible to use up our food scraps before they go to the compost pile or out to feed the backyard chickens.

Use citrus peels

Citrus peels are packed with flavor and can be used in a variety of ways. You can zest the peels and use them to flavor baked goods, salad dressings, or marinades. Alternatively, you can infuse the peels in vinegar to make a citrusy cleaning solution.

Citrus peels can also be used to make candied citrus peel, which is a delicious treat that can be used in baking or eaten on its own.

Make croutons

If you have leftover bread that’s starting to go stale, don’t throw it away! Turn it into croutons instead. Cut the bread into bite-sized pieces and toss them with olive oil, herbs, and salt. Then bake them in the oven until they’re crispy. you can also use the crusts from bread for this if your kids are picky and do not like the crust on their sandwiches.

Croutons are a great way to add crunch and flavor to salads or soups. Plus, they’re a great way to use up bread that might otherwise go to waste.

Regrow vegetables

Did you know that some vegetables can be regrown from scraps? For example, you can regrow many vegetables including green onions, celery, and lettuce from their roots. Simply place the scraps in a jar of water and watch as they start to regrow.

This is a fun and easy way to reduce food waste while also growing your own vegetables at home. Plus, it’s a great way to get kids interested in gardening and sustainability.

Freeze fruit scraps

If you have leftover fruit scraps such as peels or cores, don’t throw them away! Instead, freeze them and use them later in smoothies or as flavorings for homemade ice cream or sorbet.

This is a great way to add flavor and nutrition to your favorite frozen treats, while also reducing food waste.

Make pesto

If you have leftover herb stems or leaves that would otherwise be discarded, use them to make pesto. Simply blend the herbs with some garlic, nuts, and olive oil, and use the pesto as a sauce for pasta, chicken, or fish.

This is a great way to add flavor and nutrition to your meals, while also reducing food waste. Plus, homemade pesto is often more delicious and flavorful than store-bought varieties.

Make vegetable chips

If you have vegetable peels such as potato, carrot, or beet, don’t throw them away! Instead, turn them into delicious vegetable chips. Toss the peels with olive oil and salt and bake them in the oven until they’re crispy.

Vegetable chips are a great way to satisfy your salty snack cravings while also getting some extra vitamins and fiber.

Make pickles

If you have vegetable or even fruit scraps such as carrot tops, watermelon rines, or cucumber ends, use them to make quick pickles. Simply combine the scraps with some vinegar, salt, and spices, and let them sit for a few hours or overnight.

This is a great way to preserve vegetables and add some tangy flavor to your meals. Quick pickles can be used as a side dish, added to sandwiches, or used to top salads.

Make stock

If you have bones from chicken, beef, or fish, don’t throw them away! Use them to make a flavorful stock. Combine the bones with water and vegetables, and let them simmer for several hours. Strain the stock and use it in soups or stews.

Homemade stock is often more flavorful and nutritious than store-bought varieties. Plus, using bones that might otherwise be discarded is a great way to reduce food waste and save money.

Make vegetable broth

One of the easiest ways to use vegetable scraps is to make a flavorful broth. Save vegetable scraps such as onion skins, carrot peels, and celery ends in a container in your freezer. Once you have enough, add them to a pot of water and let them simmer for an hour or two. Strain the broth and use it as a base for soups, stews, or as a cooking liquid for grains.

Not only does this help reduce food waste, but it’s also a great way to add flavor and nutrition to your meals.

Make fruit jam

If you have overripe fruit that might otherwise go to waste, use it to make jam. Simply combine the fruit with some sugar and lemon juice, and cook until thickened. Use the jam on toast, yogurt, or as a topping for ice cream.

I use scraps from apples to make a lovely apple jelly that my kids just go nuts for. Scraps like corn cobs can be used to make jelly as well.

This is a great way to reduce food waste while also creating a delicious and versatile condiment. Homemade jam is often less sweet and more flavorful than store-bought varieties.

Zero-waste cooking is a great way to reduce food waste, save money, and create delicious meals. By using food scraps in creative ways, you can make the most out of the food you buy or grow, while also reducing your environmental impact.

These ten ideas are just the beginning – there are countless ways to use food scraps in cooking. With a little creativity and experimentation, you can turn food waste into delicious and nutritious meals.

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