When it comes to cooking and baking, there are almost always scraps left over. Many people just throw these in the garbage. Sadly all this food ends up in the landfills that are already overflowing. But don’t worry there’s something you can do to change this cycle!
When making food, save your scraps. We often throw scraps in the compost pile, but you can actually make so much with them! This not only reduces waste but also helps your food supply go further which in the end saves you money. Who doesn’t love that?! Let’s dive into the seven clever ways to use your food scraps.
Dried Cinnamon Apple Peels
Instead of throwing out your apple peels, use them to make a delicious treat. Until you get a few handful of peels, save them in an air tight container. You’ll want to dip each peel in a lemon juice with water bath then place them in the container. Keep this in your fridge until you have enough.
When you’ve got at least two or three handfuls of apple peels, line them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Finally place them in a dehydrator or bake in oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for a few hours until they are crisp. Store in a stainless steel airtight container or mason jar in your pantry up to a week.
Baked Potato Skin Chips
When using potatoes in a dish many times we throw out the peels. Instead of dumping them in the trash save them for a crisp salty snack! You’ll want to make these in small batches after using potatoes so the veggie peels stay fresh.
Rinse the peels in a water bath then pat dry with a reusable unpaper towel. Next grease your sheet pan with a little olive oil or avocado oil and line it with the potato peels. Then you’ll want to sprinkle with sea salt. Finally bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 minutes. Store in an airtight container once they’ve cooled for up to three days.
The cleaners in most big box stores are usually filled with tons of harmful chemicals. So why not make an all purpose cleaner at home with leftover citrus scraps?! Place leftover lemon, lime, and/or orange peels in a glass jar. Next, fill this jar to the top with vinegar. Then let sit in a dark cool place for two weeks. This gives the vinegar time to infuse with the citrus peel giving it better cleaning properties.
After the two weeks are up, strain the citrus peels. Pour equal parts of this citrus infused vinegar and water to a glass spray bottle. Use this to clean your home!
Grow New Plants
Did you know you can grow new plants out of food scraps? Next time you eat a fruit or vegetable, save the seeds! For example, when using a lemon, pick out a few of the seeds and soak them in water for about 15 minutes. Next you’ll place them between two damp cloths and place in a reusable silicone bag. Leave this sit near a window for up to two weeks or until the seeds start growing roots.
At this point you’ll want to grab a small pot of soil and plant your seedling. Be sure to water it every few days and keep it near a window. If you would like to kick start the growth, place a clear mason jar over the planted seed above the dirt. This creates humidity and allows the plant to thrive. Once your plant has grown a stalk and has leaves you can plant it outside or keep it by a window. You now have a lemon tree!
You can also do this with strawberries, blueberries, bell peppers, apples, and so many other plants! Don’t throw out the seeds of fruits and vegetables. You can start your own free garden at home with little hassle!
Leftover Tea Fertilizer
If you use tea bags, don’t throw them out. Instead use them to naturally fertilize your garden and indoor plants! There’s two creative ways you can do this. The first way is sticking the entire tea bag into the dirt. This will naturally break everything down and your plants will use it as food. The one downside of this is, your fertilizing will only be in one area of the garden unless you have multiple bags.
The second way you can fertilize your plants with used tea bags is to open them up and empty out the tea grounds into a bowl. Add ½ cup of oats and mix together. You can now spread this through your garden or in multiple indoor plant pots on top of the soil. As this absorbs into the soil, you’re adding so many natural nutrients back into your plants!
Coffee Ground Scrub
After your morning cup of joe, use the coffee ground to make a DIY bath scrub. Add your coffee grounds, equal parts graduated sugar of any kind, a few teaspoons of sea salt, and a tablespoon of olive oil . Next mix together until evenly combined. Finally you’ll want to store this coffee scrub in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Use this scrub in the shower to exfoliate skin. The coffee helps with skin health. The sea salt and sugar exfoliates. All while the olive oil puts moisture back into the skin.
These seven clever ways to use your food scraps will not only make your life easier but will also save you so much money. Running to the grocery store for vegetable broth or shopping for new plants to place in your garden will no longer be a must. You’ve got everything you need right at home. So many people have resources in their homes they don’t even know about. Who would’ve known potato skins can turn into a homemade chip or leftover tea bags fertilize plants.
Make Homemade Vegetable Stock
It’s actually quite simple to make homemade vegetable stock using leftover veggie kitchen scraps. Here’s how:
- Collect vegetable trimmings and vegetable peels (such as onion skins, carrot peels, broccoli stalks, celery leaves, etc.) and store in a freezer bag until ready to use.
- In a large pot, sauté roughly chopped onion, carrot, and celery in a bit of oil until softened.
- Add the frozen vegetable scraps and any other desired ingredients (such as garlic, leftover herbs, and peppercorns) to the pot.
- Cover the vegetables with water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Strain the solids from the liquid and discard the solids.
- Allow the stock to cool, then store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for later use.
- This homemade stock is so delicious and cheaper than what you can find in grocery stores.
Make Homemade Croutons or Bread Crumbs
Another fun and easy way to reduce food scraps, specifically bread scraps–making your own homemade croutons or bread crumbs. You can use stale bread for this recipe. Here’s how:
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Cut stale bread into small cubes.
- In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with a mixture of melted butter or oil, salt, and any desired spices (such as garlic powder, onion powder, or dried herbs).
- Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet.
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Banana Peel Vegan Bacon
Did you know you can eat your banana peels? Some people like to make a vegan “bacon” using leftover banana peels. It’s a great way to use food scraps that creates a tasty and creative plant based treat!
- 2-3 ripe banana peels (from yellow bananas)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (for a gluten-free option)
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional, for added smokiness)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- A pinch of black pepper
- Cooking spray or a small amount of oil for brushing
- Prepare the Banana Peels:
- Start by peeling the bananas and using the flesh for another recipe. You’ll only need the peels for this bacon.
- Clean and Slice the Peels:
- Rinse the banana peels thoroughly to remove any residue or pesticides.
- Slice the peels into thin strips, similar to the size of bacon strips. Make sure they are evenly sized for consistent cooking.
- Prepare the Marinade:
- In a bowl, combine soy sauce (or tamari), liquid smoke, maple syrup, smoked paprika (if using), garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Mix well to create the marinade.
- Marinate the Banana Peels:
- Place the banana peel strips into a shallow dish or a sealable plastic bag.
- Pour the marinade over the banana peels and ensure they are evenly coated. Allow them to marinate for at least 15-20 minutes to absorb the flavors.
- Cook the Banana Peel Bacon:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and lightly grease it with cooking spray or a small amount of oil.
- Arrange the marinated banana peel strips on the wire rack, ensuring they are not overlapping.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the banana peel bacon becomes crispy and slightly browned. You may want to flip them halfway through for even cooking.
- Remove the banana peel bacon from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Serve as a crispy topping for salads, sandwiches, vegan BLTs, or enjoy it as a crunchy snack.
From turning kitchen scraps into flavorful broths and stocks to crafting nutrient-rich compost in our compost bin for our gardens, it’s clear that what some may consider waste can be transformed into valuable resources. Reducing food waste not only benefits the environment but also our wallets and our creativity in the kitchen. As we embrace the idea of using every part of our ingredients, let’s continue to find joy in the process of repurposing and rediscovering the potential in our kitchen scraps.