Food waste is a serious issue. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 30–40% of the food supply in the United States is wasted each year (1).

Food waste not only depletes many of our natural resources but also increases greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change.

Fortunately, you can take several steps to decrease food waste, including planning your meals in advance, only buying what you need, and practicing proper food storage.

Using food scraps instead of throwing them out is another simple way to reduce waste, minimize your environmental impact, and save money.

1. Pickle watermelon rinds

Watermelon is a popular summertime treat, but the rinds are often discarded in favor of the fruit’s sweet flesh.

However, you can save watermelon rinds and pickle them for a crunchy, satisfying snack.

Like pickling other fruits and vegetables, you simmer the rinds in a mixture of vinegar, water, sugar, and salt until they soften, then store them in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy them.

If you’re feeling creative, you can add other spices and seasonings to the mix, such as ginger, cinnamon, peppercorn, or cloves.

2. Try making bone broth

Instead of purchasing pricey bone broth supplements or powdered mixes, you can make your own bone broth at home by saving leftover bones from meat.

Simply add roasted bones to a large pot and fill it with water until the bones are fully submerged. Bring it to a simmer and cover it, letting it cook for 24–48 hours. Next, strain the broth using a mesh sieve, transfer it to jars, and store it in the fridge.

Bone broth is not only a warm, soothing alternative to coffee or tea but also makes a great addition to soup, stew, stuffing, and gravy.

3. Make croutons using stale bread

If you have a loaf of bread that’s gone stale, there’s no need to toss it. Instead, use it to whip up a batch of delicious homemade croutons.

To get started, cut the loaf into cubes and toss them with olive oil and your choice of seasonings, such as garlic powder, rosemary, black pepper, or onion powder.

Then, arrange the cubes on a sheet pan and bake them for 10–15 minutes at 400°F (205°C), or until crispy and golden.

Homemade croutons add extra flavor and crunch to salads, soups, and casseroles.

4. Sauté the stems of leafy greens

Leafy greens like kale and collards have fibrous stems that can be difficult to eat.

However, instead of tossing them out, you can save the stems, chop them into small pieces, and sauté them with a bit of olive oil and your favorite seasonings.

In addition to helping cut back on food waste, leafy greens’ stems make a delicious side dish packed with nutrients.

5. Regrow your veggies in water

Many types of vegetables can be regrown by putting their stalks in water, helping you save money on groceries while reducing waste.

Cabbage, celery, green onions, and leeks work especially well, but you can grow a variety of other veggies, too.

Simply cut the bottom of the stalk and place it in a shallow bowl with enough water to cover the roots. Although it may take time to see significant growth, you’ll start to notice progress within a few days.

6. Save the leaves of beets, carrots, and radishes

Most people discard the leafy greens that sprout from root vegetables like beets, carrots, and radishes.

These greens are not only edible and nutritious but also incredibly versatile. You can swap them for other greens in a wide range of recipes.

Try sautéing the leaves for an easy side dish or add them to salad, soup, pesto, or hummus.

7. Make vegetable stock

One of the best ways to use up vegetable trimmings is to make your own veggie stock.

It’s easy to do. Just add vegetable scraps to a large pot, cover them with water, add herbs and seasonings like garlic or peppercorns, bring it to a boil, and simmer it for 20–30 minutes. Next, filter the broth using a fine-mesh sieve, transfer it to a container, and freeze or refrigerate it.

You can use your homemade vegetable stock to cook pasta or grains, or add it to soups and stews to ramp up the flavor.


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