Stop! Before discarding anything you might view as food “waste,” consider the possible usage of perfectly good scraps. Almost every peel or vegetable trimming can be frozen and/or used to enhance the flavor in broths, soups, sauces, and stews; the average serious cook knows the value of meat bones in providing nutrient-rich homemade stock.
We currently live in the age of repurposing items, and this includes more than just pieces of wood or old hardware in DIY home projects. Below are just a few examples of ways to stretch food sources (and perhaps your budget as well).
Increase extra zing to asparagus soup by boiling asparagus trimmings/stems for 30 to 40 minutes to make a broth. Rich in vitamin C with a taste similar to parsley, carrot tops can be tossed into soups and sauces or used as a garnish. Grate broccoli stalks to make broccoli slaw or include them in your cauliflower rice.
Potato water adds moistness to homemade bread and can be used as a substitute for all or part of the milk normally used to make mashed potatoes. The skin of the potato is delicious too: bake them in the oven, add a little oil and sprinkle the top with seasonings like salt, pepper, and paprika.
Give new life to old bread. Instead of throwing out that bag of stale bread, use those slices to make croutons. Just cut them into cubes, spread them out on a baking sheet, drizzle with melted butter or olive oil, and season lightly with salt, pepper, and herbs. Heat oven to 300 F, turn the croutons over after 15 minutes and bake for a total of 20 to 25 minutes. Store your inexpensive homemade croutons in an airtight container and they will last up to around one week.
Related: “There’s Something About Bread”
Citrus and Cucumber Peels
Placing a piece of citrus peel into a bag of brown sugar will help keep it soft. For a pleasing aroma, a simmering citrus potpourri blend of lemon, orange, and grapefruit peels will freshen any kitchen. Cucumber peels have properties that keep your skin moisturized. You can even throw a few into your bath water for relief from dry or itchy skin.
Leftover coffee –and the grounds — can have an extended purpose. Plain leftover coffee can be used to water certain houseplants. Coffee grounds are good for aerating soil, adding both nitrogen and acidity.
Since custards, sauces, and ice cream recipes often call for egg yolks only, what do you do with the whites? Well, for starters, egg whites can be frozen and later thawed out and used for recipes calling for egg whites. Like coffee grounds, crushed eggshells are also excellent for gardens. They add calcium to the soil and tend to fend off pesty, plant destroying cutworms and slugs.
Saving food scraps is not just for composting. You can even grow more from scraps like lettuce and cabbage by placing a couple of leaves in water. After a few roots develop, simply place those leaves in some soil. Drop a garlic clove into some potting soil and watch it grow. There are loads of benefits to be had as a result of food scrapping. It gives additional meaning to that old adage, “Waste not, want not.”