With just a few easy tips and tricks introduced into your everyday cooking habits, you can reduce ACTUAL food waste by a LOT! I’ve been shocked to see how much of my ‘garbage’ during cooking can actually be re-purposed or used later.
Most of the steps (15 ++!) below have become part of my everyday habits now, reducing what ends up in the bin – or at the very least, getting a second use out of it before it does.
Some of these you may have heard of, but hopefully there’s a new one or two in there for you!
Ready for some win-wins?!
Vegetable Odds + Ends > Stock
When doing a big cook, I typically end up with a lot of scrap – but FEAR NOT! There are a lot of ‘still useful’ bits in there, perfect for a future meat, fish or vegetable stock. If I’m not using it right away, I make ‘stock baggies’ of these bits that go in the freezer until needed.
Leftover Egg Yolks > Cured Egg Yolks
A lot of recipes use EITHER egg yolks or whites. Whites are easily added to many dishes, but what to do with extra yolks?! SALT CURE THEM! Add that umami-touch to just about any dish you would typically add parmesan cheese to. I’ve started salt/sugar curing Egg Yolks and shaving it on just about everything for some added protein, and to cut down Panko carbs or cheesey fats that I normally would have used.
Seeding Potatoes > New Potato Plants
Forgot about that bag of potatoes on the floor?! Yep. Did you know you that as long as the ‘eyes’ have grown out, you can plant them for a fresh, new potato?? YOU CAN!
Although shown here cut, I would leave them whole next time and see what happens. Will update when they grow, but so far so good!
Bacon (or Duck) Fat > Cooking Fat
When I’m making bacon for breakfast, I often just leave the fat in the pan, ready to be used for lunch or dinner. BUT you can also keep it in the Fridge. I keep one container for Bacon Fat and one for (rendered) Duck Fat. It’s perfect to pull out for extra flavor when searing steaks or a roast – or when sauteeing your Green Beans!
Asparagus Ends > Cooking Bits
Where you break off the Asparagus stalk (if you do), isn’t where the usefulness of Asparagus stalks end. Asparagus ‘Dimes’, as I’ve seen them called, are perfect for adding to any variety of dishes, soups, stocks, etc. I keep them in a bag in the freezer and pull out a fist-ful anytime I need it!
Bones + Shells > Stock
Yep – more stock! We love a good seafood feast, and pretty much always save the shells (white wine chorizo sauce drips and all) and freeze them until we have enough variety to make a ‘super stock’. Same goes for packs of bone marrow bones (roasted), beef roast bones, etc. There are purists when it comes to making stocks, and sometimes I do the same, but when I’ve collected a variety of fish heads, crab shells, clam/oyster shells with ALL their drippy flavors left on, I make a SUPER STOCK. (See also my Stock making PRO TIPS above!).
Citrus Rind > Spices
Before juicing lemons or limes, I grate the rind off first. As it’s left on the counter, it dries enough to be used for any dish you like. I don’t worry about covering it tight or leaving it in the fridge – honestly, it gets used up far too fast anyhow. It’s one of my favorite ‘spices’ and I add it to almost everything!
Fresh Herbs > Dried Herbs
Some herbs just don’t get all used up – and some dry better than others, but Thyme, Rosemary and Tarragon are actually much easier to use slightly dried out. Rather than keep it in the fridge, I leave it out on the counter (alongside the rest of my little countertop science experiments LOL). Even though it’s technically dried, it still packs a lot of that fresh flavor if you use it within a week or two.
Parmesan Rind > Gooey Umami Flavoring
Don’t throw these away!! Skim off the waxy printed outside and keep in the freezer. Add to all kinds of risottos, pasta sauces or dishes that could use a bit of umami-y cheesey gooeyness, like the Cauli + Leek Soup.
Garlic > Garlic Confit
Tired of buying heads of garlic, only to open it and find it’s already growing green sprigs of bitterness? UGH – ME, TOO! For most dishes, though, I also just prefer a softer garlic taste. ENTER Garlic Confit! I’ve been making it so long by now, it’s become a staple. And it’s SO EASY!
The extra perk is that not only can you add the garlic to any dish or salad dressing – or just spread on Flatbreads – you can also use the garlic-infused oil for even more options. A win-win.
Green Onions > More Green Onions
Yep – you heard it right. Mo’ equals Mo’!
Once you’ve cut the green off your delicious green onion, you can put the rooted bits in water and they’re GROW AGAIN! FOR FREE!
The only catch is that you need to change the water EVERY day. It gets really smelly, and the roots will rot after awhile, so use the new shoots right away.
Beet Tops > Grilled Veg + Greens
I used to throw away all these goodies and just eat the beets, because the first time I tried sautéeing beet tops it was sinewy like celery and really unappetizing. But once I diced it – and the green leaves – and sautéed them, turned out they were delicious. Now I save them – whole – in the fridge, and chop a handful to add to any other vegetable sautées like garlic Bok Choy, Green Beans, Asparagus… I’m making myself hungry…
Lemon Inners > Lemon Ice Cubes
Once you’ve saved your rinds, and used the juice in a recipe, what’s left? The citrus ‘walls’! What the heck can you do with them?! Well, usually there is still a lot of juice and pulp sacs attached, so pulling them out, adding a leaf or two of mint and you have great ice cubes. Add a bit of the lemon juice while you’re at it – did you know citrus helps your body absorb iron from your food?
While you’re at it, use the mint leaves for your dishes, and dice up the stems for these water perk-ups.
Citrus ‘Inners’ + Rind > Marmelade
I was introduced to this GENIUS hack on a trip to Palm Springs! We were drinking SO MUCH fresh citrus juice we were gettting overrun with peels – and waste. Our lovely host showed us how to use the rind (NOT the white pithy parts – they’re too bitter) and all the innards (the walls and leftover juice sacs) to make a DELICIOUS MARMELADE!
It was so good I made a batch with Mandarin Oranges one holiday season since we were eating so many of them, and it became everyone’s Christmas Stocking treat.
‘Butt’ Bread Ends > Toasted ‘Panko’
No one ever wants the hard, extra crusty ‘butts’ of the loaves of bread around here. Well, I sure don’t! BUT -save them! You can dry them out on the counter a few days, or toast in the oven then leave out to finish drying, and pulse in a food processor until you have gorgeous, toasted bread crumbs!
If they’re already dry, I toast them AFTER processing, as I typically do with Panko crumbs.
They’re perfect to sprinkle on your Salads, or grilled Veg dishes.
Want a few MORE tips?!
Eggshells > washed, inside skin removed and finely ground, eggshells can be added to your garden for calcium-loving plants – or to deter pesky slugs!
Coffee Grinds > acid-loving plants like Blueberries love to have coffee grinds added into the mulch. And apparently they ALSO deter slugs, so another win-win!
Any of these tips new for you?
Can’t wait to see how you use them!