7 Creative Ways to Use Food Scraps and Reduce Waste

Approximately 30-40% of our global food supply goes to waste from people not eating the food in a timely manner, throwing away “ugly” produce, or just not consuming the food. Maximizing any use of our food can help in the long-run. Not only will this help save the planet, it will save money, too. Here are 7 Creative Ways to Use Food Scraps and Reduce Waste:

  1. Infuse your water: For recipes that only use a portion of the bunches of herbs, use the rest to infuse water. Make an ice cube with the herb. Lightly chop the herb and add it to an ice tray with water.
  2. Repurpose them into another dish: Bread crusts, broccoli stems, mushy fruit, tough greens – all these “useless” scraps can be thrown into another dish. To give you some ideas, check out the post on 27 Dietitian-Approved Recipes Using Leftover Foods to Reduce Food Waste.
  3. Regrow your own food: If you don’t have a green thumb, like me, then you’ll be delighted to learn that you can regrow different types of food from its scraps with just a bit of water. That’s right, no soil needed. Bok choy, cabbage, pineapples, and a variety of other options can get you started on your own garden – without the dirt on your hands. Check out how on Don’t Waste the Crumbs.
  4. Make your own cleaning solution: The chemical ingredients in our cleaning products can be effective but harsh, on not only our environment, but on our health with overexposure, too. Instead, make your own. Simply add leftover citrus peels in vinegar to a spray bottle for an eco-friendly, all-purpose household cleaner.
  5. Deter pests: A few cucumber peels is an easy, affordable, and green alternative to reduce minor pest problems. Simply place them at entrance points around your home (preferably in soil so that they can decompose) to deter ants, moths, mites, and more.
  6. Treat your best friend: Use leftover bones. Soften them in a slow cooker or boil in a pot. Next, purée the soft bones in a blender or food processor. Last of all, mix the puréed bones with some of the remaining broth. This will create a treat that dogs will love. And we can eat it, too. Homemade bone broth is delicious.
  7. Create a bird feeder: Preserve cooking grease in a jar. Add equal parts bird seed or cornmeal as a mix-in. Refrigerate until firm. This creates a suet, which is the perfect bird food to warm them up in the colder, winter months.

And that’s just the beginning! There are even more fun ways to start using food scraps. The possibilities are endless, but these are just 7 Creative Ways to Use Food Scraps and Reduce Waste to get you started on your own journey.

Check out past posts on sustainability:
Ways to Reduce Plastic at the Farmers Market and the Grocery Store
Dietitian Approved Recipes Using Leftover Foods
The Secret to Successful Home Composting
10 Steps for Eating More Sustainably

By Alexa Tiletile, Dietetic Intern

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  1. Melissa Smith-Zaninovich March 29, 2020 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Being more intimate with my kitchen during these weeks has made me more aware to NOT WASTE ANYTHING while preparing meals. (Of course, having a compost helps in this regard, too.) . These are very good ideas to further that cause. I’m going to try the ice cube tray trick, as I always have lots of stems of veggies left over. This can go into soups later on.

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN March 31, 2020 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      Yes! Fabulous reminder. It’s good to know how much we are using versus wasting and then modify our usage so we “waste” less.

  2. Elaine & James March 24, 2024 at 7:54 am - Reply

    All great tips & reminders!

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN March 24, 2024 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      Every little bit we do matters. And the food “scraps” are still tasty and flavorful.

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