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19 Ways to Reuse Food Waste

On average, Americans waste more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. When there are so many people who are hungry and food insecure, this is a horrible waste! Use what you have to the fullest with these solutions to reuse food waste.

food waste scraps

Not only will these solutions to prevent food waste keep organic matter out of the landfills and trash piles, but they will stretch your food budget further. 

And these ways to reuse food waste aren’t hard! In fact, they’re super easy!

This post was provided in part by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people. Thanks to author Amy Palanjian and artwork by Jennifer Olson and New Hope Network.

Solutions to Prevent Food Waste

Simmer Vegetable Trimmings For Stock

vegetable trimmings on wood board

When cooking, it’s really easy to accumulate a lot of vegetable peelings and trimmings that might otherwise go into the trash. These peelings can include:

  • Carrot peels
  • Zucchini stems
  • Onion ends
  • Celery root ends
  • and more

Add all of these to a large ziptop bag in the freezer, continuing to add as you cook. When the bag is full, add the vegetable trimmings to a large stockpot, cover with water, and simmer for 4–6 hours to make rich vegetable stock.

Simmer Chicken Bones For Soups

chicken bones and vegetable peels on wooden board

Make stock by covering a pile of chicken bones with water in a large stockpot. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 3–4 hours or until reduced by half and golden brown.

An Apple a Day Can Create Apple Peel Chips

apple peels and parsley stems on wood board

Toss with a bit of sugar and cinnamon. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400˚ for 10 minutes to make chips.

Soothe and Savor with Citrus Peels

citrus peels and green leaves food waste on wood board

Peel the outer skin of citrus, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Dry in a 200˚ oven for 2–3 hours, and add to herbal teas.

You can also infuse water by tossing peels in and letting them steep for a while. 

Simmer the orange peels or lemon peels in water for a natural way to fragrance your home. Here’s some more great stovetop potpourri recipes (Lemon Lavender and Herb Stovetop Potpourri or Rose Petal and Eucalyptus Natural Air Freshener)

Extra Nutrition from Those Brown Bananas!

rotting bananas food waste on wood board

Of course you can always use past-their-prime bananas to make banana bread.

But they’re also great in smoothies and milkshakes!

You can also slightly freeze the bananas and blend them into one-ingredient “ice cream.” (It’s actually really, really good!)

Another alternative is to whip the softened bananas into a nutritious pudding with avocado and peanut butter.

No Reason to Waste Those Herb Stems!

herb stems food waste on wooden board

Use parsley or basil stems along with the leaves in a batch of pesto. There is no need to separate the leaves from the stems.

Get Cheesy with Soups

parmesan rinds food waste

Add cheese rinds and end slices of cheese to a simmering pot of minestrone or chicken noodle soup to impart a delicious flavor.

Snack Better with Potato Peels

potato peels food waste on wooden cutting board

Make potato chips by tossing potato peels with a drizzle of olive oil and salt.

Bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 400˚ for about 10 minutes.

Add Another Veggie to Your Meal with Romaine Lettuce

romaine lettuce leaves food waste on wooden board

Chop the thick outer leaves of romaine leaves into slivers.

Then sauté quickly in olive oil with a thinly sliced garlic clove, salt and pepper.

Never Waste a Slice of Bread Again

stale bread food waste on wooden board

Toast the stale bread and then crumble into bread crumbs to use in meatballs.

Or cube the stale bread and toss with diced tomatoes, diced cucumber, chickpeas and vinaigrette for a quick panzanella-style salad.

You can also toast the stale bread and bread ends and toss into a food processor. Use bread crumbs right away, or store in a ziptop bag in the freezer.

Smells So Good with Vanilla Beans!

used vanilla beans food waste

Cover scraped vanilla beans completely in sugar in an airtight container.

Store for 1–2 weeks; then use vanilla-scented sugar in baked goods or stirred into tea.

food waste scraps

More Zero Waste Ideas

Keep in mind that when these food items have been given a second chance (such as vegetable peelings being used in soup stock), you can still compost the item as another solution for food waste.

Food isn’t the only thing that is wasted in America. Check out these 11 brilliant ways to go Zero Waste (and save money at the same time).

You don’t have to worry about waste with your morning cup of tea if you grow and blend your own teas. No more tea bags in the trash can!


Ditch the Toxins in Your Home!

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Arnika Bhupal

Monday 15th of July 2019

These are ideas are great! I will definitely be trying the vegetable stock one :)