Integrative Nutrition Blog

Genius Ways to Use Leftover Food Scraps

April 28, 2017

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Earth Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we’re not still thinking about all the ways we can do our part to keep our planet clean and beautiful. Sure, making an effort to recycle glass bottles and remembering to bring your reusable coffee mug when you grab your morning latte are admirable feats, but there’s one area in your life that you’re probably seriously overlooking your carbon footprint—your kitchen. 

In fact, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills in the United States, which are the largest source of methane emissions. Even more shockingly, about 40% of the food produced in the U.S. ends up in the trash. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but realizing that you can make a difference by being more mindful in your own kitchen is huge.

We’ve rounded up a few easy ways to reuse food scraps that might otherwise end up in the trash:

Broth

Add: Bones, onion skin, shrimp shells, veggie scraps

Bone broth is trending, and we understand why—high in protein, collagen, and minerals, it’s excellent for supporting tissue and muscle health. Instead of spending money buying the pre-made stuff at the store (which can end up tasting too salty), make your own at home. Simply add the leftover bones from any meat or poultry you’ve cooked into boiling water, and add various vegetable scraps (or that potato that’s been sitting in the pantry for a little too long) and let simmer for anywhere from 2 to 12 hours. Voila—flavorful, healthy broth!

Smoothies 

Add: Kale stems, carrot and beet tops, veggie ends

Next time you make a kale salad, don’t toss those stems! Instead, throw them in a bag in the freezer, and whip ‘em out for your morning green smoothie. Kale stems and green veggie tops are incredibly nutrient dense, and you can’t even taste them once they’ve been frozen and blended into a juice.

Infused liquor, candy

Add: Citrus peels

You know that drinking lemon water is great for digestion, but what to do with those sad, depleted citrus fruits when you’re done? Use the peels to make candied citrus (check out this three-ingredient recipe), or for a more grown up twist add peels into a clear liquor like vodka. Allow to sit in the sun and steep for a few days, then serve!

Sauces

Add: Leftover wine, day-old coffee

Whipping up a pasta sauce, gravy, or chili? Use undrinkable old wine or cold day-old coffee to enhance the flavors of your dish. Freeze the old wine in an ice cube tray and simply add a few into the pot next time you simmer tomato sauce to add a little acidity, and pour a bit of stale coffee into gravy or chili to bring out the earthy flavors.

Infused olive oil

Add: Herb stems, garlic

Can’t bear to toss that beautiful bunch of cilantro, but know you’re probably not going to get around to using it up? In a clean jar or glass bottle, completely cover the herbs (or garlic) with olive oil. Seal tightly and allow to sit in the sun and infuse for up to one week.

Compost

Add: Anything, except animal products or fats

Starting your own backyard compost is the ultimate in saving food scraps! You can really add almost anything into a compost pile, except for animal byproducts or fats (they can’t get broken down in a composter).

Save the planet and get the most out of your groceries? That’s a win-win!

Do you have any tips for how you use food scraps? Let us know below!

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