ten ways to use up nutritious food scraps

From watermelon rind and leftover herbs to citrus peels, here’s ten ways to use up food scraps.

Most people are mindful of doing their bit for the planet nowadays. You know – using keep cups, recycling more, driving less… One thing a lot of people struggle with, however, is limiting the waste that comes out of their kitchen.

In Australia, it’s estimated that one in every five bags of groceries we buy ends up in the bin. If you’re a numbers person, that equates to roughly 300 kilograms of waste per person. Not only does that mean you’re essentially throwing your hard-earned coin in the bin, but all of this food waste goes to landfill, which eventually produces methane – a potent greenhouse gas. So, it’s important we all make a concerted effort to waste less food.

Using what you buy is obviously the first step – and that means using the whole food. To give you a helping hand with cutting back on food waste, here’s ten innovative ways to use the food scraps you might normally throw in the bin.

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1. DIY stock

Carrot tops, celery ends, the outer layers of onions – these leftover veggie trimmings can easily be turned into a nutritious homemade stock. You’ll save money by never buying pre-made stock again and cut back on the stacks of sodium store-bought varieties provide.

2. Watermelon rind pickle

It sounds a bit strange, but leftover watermelon rind makes for a great pickle that can be used anywhere you would a normal pickle. A quick google search will give you loads of recipes, but the basic idea is to combine the rind with water, sugar, salt and vinegar and in a few weeks, you’ll have a great pickle on your hands.

3. Pumpkin seeds

Next time you buy a whole pumpkin, don’t throw out the seeds. Instead, give them a good rinse and roast them in the oven until crunchy for a nutritious addition to salads. An added bonus is that pumpkin seeds are packed with heart healthy fats and plant-based protein to keep you feeling full.

4. Plant-based meringue

The liquid from a can of chickpeas is called aquafaba and there are some pretty creative ways to use, so don’t throw it down the drain. Case in point: ‘aquafaba’ meringue. Look it up. You’ll be mind blown.

5. Bread crusts

Stale bread is the perfect base for homemade breadcrumbs. Ditto for the crusts that might normally make it to the rubbish bin. You can also chop stale bread into small squares and toast them for croutons in a salad, or whip up some French toast on the weekend when you’ve got a bit more time of your hands for an adventurous brekkie.

6. Herbs

Do you often buy a fresh bunch of herbs, only to use a miniscule amount of them? Rather than throwing away the bunch, finely chop it up, divide it over an ice cube tray, cover in extra virgin olive oil and freeze for the next time you need said herb. Don’t forget to use the stalks, too – they pack a flavour punch.

7. Cauliflower leaves

There’s a lot of delicious things you can do with cauli leaves. Roast them along with your cauliflower if you’re doing a tray of veggies, grate them into a slaw or add them to a soup or stew.

8. Citrus peels

Citrus peels can add serious flavour to sweet and savoury dishes. Zest up a lemon before using the juice and save it for the next time you’re cooking fish or making a salad dressing. Orange peels make for a great home-brewed cuppa tea, too.

9. Broccoli stalks

Blitz up your leftover broccoli stalks and use them to bulk up anything from spaghetti bolognese to fritters to soup. You can do the same thing with kale stems and the ends of asparagus spears as well.

10. Parmesan rind

Cheese is the gift that keeps on giving. When you’ve eaten all the good stuff and are down to the rind, save it to pop into your next soup or stew. It adds a delicious umami flavour.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.