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  • Writer's pictureKatherine

Reducing Waste in the Kitchen Part 2

Scraps are inevitable when we are cooking in the home, but learning different ways to use up

those scraps can make a tremendous impact! We are on part 2 of our Reducing Waste in the Kitchen series. In Part 1, we explored some creative strategies to reduce waste from animal products like bones and eggshells. If you missed it you can read all about it here.

Saving vegetable scraps in the freezer is a great way to preserve them until you have enough to make broth but there are a number of vegetables that cannot be saved for broth. Common scraps to exclude from broth are brassicas: broccoli stems, kale stems, collard stems, cabbage ends and Brussels sprouts ends; sweet and regular potato peels; root vegetables: turnip tops, beet tops, radish tops; greens: spinach, lettuce, arugula, spring mix.

These things do add up and can seem overwhelming but making broth is not the only option for saving scraps in the kitchen! Let's go over some creative ways to use up those extra scraps in the kitchen!

Unusual Recipes

It's so commonplace in today's society to only use a small portion of produce for consumption and then the rest is thrown away. What if I were to tell you that you could make delicious recipes with those commonly tossed items though? Here's a short round up of some great dishes to keep waste down!

  • Clean sweet potato skins can be coated in coconut oil and sprinkled with cinnamon for a tasty chip-like treat. Simply pop them in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes. Pair with a yummy yogurt dip for a sweet, guilt free treat.

  • Broccoli stems can be peeled and sliced into coin sized pieces. Toss in oil and salt then bake them in the 350 degree oven until tender. Top with your favorite dips or enjoy on their own! Check out this fun recipe from Food Network for broccoli stem fries!

  • Watermelon rind pickles are an unusual dish from the South but boy are they full of flavor! Check out this recipe from Spruce Eats.

  • Orange peels can be boiled in sugar water then candied. Martha Stewart has a recipe here. These can also make fun gifts to give!

  • Carrot tops, wilted greens and even beet leaves can turn into a zesty pesto for spreading and dipping! Here is my base recipe for carrot top pesto.

  • Chard stems can be fermented for a probiotic rich addition to your meals! The Cultured Guru has a fantastic recipe and break down of the benefits here.

  • Seeds from winter squash make great roasted seeds! Snack on them, throw them in salads or use to top winter soups! Check out these instructions on how to roast them!


Perhaps one of the easiest methods to reducing food waste is to create your own compost! You can learn more about composting from The Homesteading Family. Their video and technical information really helped me troubleshoot my compost pile!

Smoothie Bombs

Does it happen to everyone or is it just me that always manages to end up with wilted spring mix? I got so tired of dealing with spring mix that wilts so quickly in the fridge so I started turning them into frozen smoothie bombs! All I do is throw the wilted lettuce in the blender, top with water or coconut water then blend until smooth. Just pour into silicone ice cube trays to freeze and when you are making a smoothie, grab a few cubes out to blend in there. Easy. Less wasteful. Healthy.

Fabric Dyes

I always like to save up bags of scraps in the freezer to use for dying fabric. While the process can be somewhat tedious, it is a fun activity for kids of all ages! Avocado pits and skins give a nice pink color. Purple cabbage is also a great pink / purple color. Skins from turmeric give a golden yellow. Blueberries give a subtle blue. The list goes on! Try saving up a small bag of your color of choice in the freezer until you have enough time and product to make something! It is a fun process and a great learning experience.


Okay, so this one isn't for everyone but if you have been considering getting a backyard flock there is no better time then the present! Chickens are a wonderful addition to the family and they provide value through egg production, compost and consuming vegetable scraps! Chickens love munching on greens, tomatoes, leftover oatmeal, and even leftover scrambled eggs! They take this waste and turn them into nutrient dense eggs! Please note: there are a handful of scraps that chickens should not consume: onion, citrus, raw potatoes and avocado pits and skins (for a full list, check out your local chicken pages) If you live on a farm, pigs will also eat whatever scraps you throw at them!


Again, this might not be for everyone but our dogs love getting vegetable scraps to much on! Our dogs will stand underneath me while I am prepping collards and kale so that they can have the stems as a crunchy treat. They love carrot tops, sweet potatoes and even beet tops! I have been saving a bag of squash tops, potato peels, green stems and leftover bones to create a supplemental dog food. They still get their regular dog food but for a treat I will cook down all of the veggie scraps, leftover bones from making bone broth (don't worry they turn into mush) and adding brown rice for a delicious treat for my pups! They can't get enough and it helps cut down on dry dog food costs!

It might seem overwhelming to do all of these things at once. As a busy mom of 2 toddler boys, I

totally get that time is a precious commodity and these things do take time. Over the years, I have learned that utilizing my freezer is one of the greatest tools to help save time! As my bone broth bag fills up, I simply dump everything into the crockpot and let it do all of the work. Then I just start refilling the bag in the freezer as I cook throughout the week. The same goes for many of these items mentioned above! I have a bag of avocado skins that I have been saving for a dying project with my kids. A bag of citrus peels that I use to make vinegar. A bag of ginger and turmeric skin to add to smoothies. Etc.

While it sounds like these take up a lot of space, I keep my freezer organized with a flat filing system in the interior and utilize the door space for my scraps and lunch freezer packs. It makes things so much easier to access so I am not digging through the whole freezer to find my bag of citrus peels. I also utilize my slow cooker a lot! Its been one of my most used kitchen gadgets.

We have a bowl on the counter that gets filled up and taken out to the compost pile a few days a week (more during the summer for flies etc.) and another bowl for chicken scraps. They LOVE when the kids don't finish all of their oatmeal because they get a tasty, calorie rich snack.

I hope that you find some of these ideas helpful and perhaps it even gets your creative juices flowing on some other ways that you can use up those scraps! I'd love to hear from you! What are some other methods you use to utilize the produce scraps in your home? Do you plan on trying out any of these ideas listed in the article?

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