11 Ways To Use Food Scraps & Reduce Waste
Like most of us, I don’t like seeing food go to waste. I use my food to the fullest extent. That includes the stems of cilantro, chicken bones, the ends of fennel bulbs, and those pieces of celery that you never want to eat. These food scarps give me an opportunity to get creative.
There are even ways to use more of our packaged and jarred food to a fuller extent. I have tricks for those almost empty mustard and mayo jars, eggshells, and onion skins. These are great money saving tips that we can all apply in our kitchen routines.
All these suggestions have your health in mind. These are tried and true practices from my chef’s kitchen. Here are my 11 chef tested ways to reuse and repurpose food scraps.
11 WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR FOOD SCRAPS, SAVE MONEY & REDUCE WASTE
Save your bones for bone broth
Save the bones from your roast chicken, bone in grilled steak or lamb chops. Add them to a gallon sized freezer bag and store in the freezer. Once the bag is full, you are ready to make bone broth. Chef Tip, when you eat out, don’t let those bones got to waste. Ask you waiter to wrap it up. Take it home and add it to your freezer bag.
Wash and freeze your onion skins
You read that right. Before slicing into a white or yellow onion, I will wash it, then save the outer skin for bone broth. Just like with the bones, a fill a freezer bag with a few onion skins, celery scraps (the parts nobody likes to eat), carrot ends and tops, left over parsley, and fennel fronds. I add these scraps to my bone broth the for extra flavor and natural salt.
Roast it for dinner
All those vegetable scraps you don’t know what to do with? Toss them in olive oil, season with sea salt and coarse black pepper, and bake on a sheet of parchment at 400 degrees for at least 20 minutes. Separate soft vegetables like zucchini and squash, from more hearty ones that will need to cook longer. The vegetable scraps I roast are the ends of the fennel bulbs, fennel fronts, ends of celery, old carrots, broccoli stalk, left over onion.
Mirepoix is a traditional base for soups, stews and many dishes. It is a blend of diced onion, celery and carrot. When I find my fridge filled with old celery and carrots, I’ll put this combo together and freezer for soup, stew or when sautéing meat. Simply diced an equal amount of onion, celery and carrot. Place in a freezer bag or wide mouth glass jar and store till needed.
Use any empty mustard jar for salad dressing
This is my dad’s secret salad dressing trick. When your mustard jar is about empty, use it for making a red wine vinaigrette. Add ½ cup red wine vinegar, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1 minced garlic and ½ a minced shallot to the jar. Shake well and chill for 1 hour before using. Enjoy of any salad and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Chef Tip: You can use any vinegar you have available for this recipe. White Wine Vinegar, Rice, Balsamic, Sherry, Champagne all work well. An almost empty small mayonnaise jar works well too.
If you don’t like the ends of your loaf of bread, this trick is for you. My clients save all the ends of their gluten-free bread loaves. When enough have staked up, I grind the bread in a food processor (a blender works too). Bake at 375-400 degrees on parchment. Check every 5 minutes, breaking apart clumps and scraping crumbs from the edge. Bake 10-15 minutes.
Trim the fat for soup and stew
People have been doing this in all cultures for as long as we’ve cooked food. If you are trimming the fat off of steak or any cut of meat before cooking it, save it and store in the freezer. It’s great to use in place of butter or oil when preparing a stew, making refried beans or frying tortillas for tostadas.
Give your eggshells to your plants
Let your eggshells dry out. Grind them in a foot processor. Mix them into the soil in your yard. You can save them in your freezer too.
Save the stems for salad dressing
Don’t want to toss the stems of cilantro and parsley? Still a few leaves there you want to use up. Add them into your salad dressing. Following my recipe for Whipped Lemon Vinaigrette. Add the cilantro stems, parsley stems or both. Blend on high till full incorporated. Have half an avocado lying around? Use that too. Store the salad dressing in an airtight container for 1 week in the fridge.
Dry your orange peel for a bath
Leave your orange peel on a parchment baking sheet in the kitchen to dry out over 24 hours. Store in an airtight container. Add to your bath with Epsom salts and essential oils like ylang ylang or chamomile. Orange peel helps break up chest congestion when you add it to a bath.
Add your lemon peels to white vinegar and clean up
If you’ve juiced lemons or have left over scraps from your morning lemon water routine, save the scraps in the fridge till you’re ready to do a deep clean. Add to white vinegar and use that natural mixture to sanitize your sink, kitchen counter and bath tab. A natural deep clean.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I’m Whitney Aronoff, a Holistic Chef based in Laguna Beach, California. I graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in Communications, and went on to the health supportive culinary school, The Natural Gourmet Institute, in New York City. I work as a personal chef and teach cooking classes, with a focus on healthy, whole foods cooking.
My goal is to help people feel their best by sharing the delicious, healthy recipes I prepare weekly for my clients. I want you to have the energy to live your best life and fulfil your dreams.
As we become more conscious and make more quality food choices, our body, mind, soul and the planet benefits.