Every year, billions of pounds of food are thrown away. Food waste is not only a large portion of landfills despite the fact that millions of people go hungry each day in the United States alone, but the act of wasting food — which needed resource inputs like water and energy to be made in the first place — is also harmful to the environment.
You may already compost your extra food scraps, which is a great way to reduce food waste, especially if you garden or have a curbside compost service that you contribute to. However, there are a number of ways to reuse things that you might see as food “scraps” in creative and delicious ways in your cooking. The aerobic bacteria in your compost shouldn’t get all the tasty treats, after all.
Here are 5 ways to reuse food scraps in the kitchen instead of throwing them away.
Make compound butter
If you have a few leftover herbs, tiny tops of jalapeno peppers or citrus rinds leftover, you can turn them into a tasty treat that will instantly elevate your daily meals: compound butter. The butter can easily be used to toss vegetables, flavor meat or punch up basics like scrambled eggs and baked potatoes. Here are the basics about making compound butter, plus a few recipes that you can try for yourself.
Prepare meat or vegetable broth
Whether you are processing a whole chicken or just have some leftover bones from a roast, making broth is a great way to put those meat scraps to use. You can even toss some leftover or less-than-fresh herbs into the mix for flavor. Vegetable scraps like carrot tops, onion skins and peels will also be useful in meat broth, but if you are low on meat or looking for a vegetarian option, you can make a delicious vegetable broth as well.
Candy or infuse citrus rinds
The peels of oranges, lemons, limes and even grapefruit are endlessly useful. Not only can citrus rinds be used in cleaning, but they can also be used in cooking. You can use them in compound butter, or you can candy them, infuse them into olive oil or make a citrusy herbal vinegar. Here’s what you need to know about reusing citrus rinds.
Tenderize with coffee grounds
Coffee grounds are infinitely useful around the house. They can be used in the garden, tossed into compost or even used for certain cleaning tasks. In the kitchen, used coffee grounds can be used to tenderize meat and give it a nice rich taste with a scrumptious crisp.
Turn sourdough discard into more treats
Are you one of the many people who jumped on the sourdough train when quarantine started? When you feed your sourdough starter to keep it alive, you also probably toss a portion of it in order to keep it under control. That discarded sourdough starter can actually be used to make a wide variety of baked goods and other treats. Here are a few things you can make with sourdough discard.
While you are cooking, keep these strategies and recipes in the back of your mind. That way, instead of reflexively tossing these food “scraps,” you will remember to save them to use in creative ways around the kitchen.