It is widely known that many Americans buy too much food that ends up tossed out, both hurting the environment and our wallets. Certain leftovers inevitably end up in the trash bin as well, even if we used the majority of the product. What if we could use our food scraps more efficiently? Check out these inventive solutions and recipes to keep common food scraps out of the garbage. 

Potato Skins

Roast instead for a delicious, crispy snack. Make sure to scrub the potatoes well before peeling. Set your oven to 400º, dress the skins with oil, salt, and pepper along with any other desired seasoning and roast for 20 minutes or so, stirring halfway. A mix of vegetable peels would also be a delightful combination.

Watermelons Rinds

The best way to use the entire tough exterior shell of this popular summer fruit is to pickle or preserve it. You can also use the white rind (just remove the green exterior) in chutneys, Indian curries, gazpacho, even jerky. Yes, you heard that right. 

Broccoli Stems

I am guilty of immediately tossing these bad boys but there are so many uses for them I have no more excuses. Slice the stalk into thin coins for stir frys and salads or dice it to try in bruschetta and soup. You can also grate or chop stalks in the food processor to make broccoli rice. Some like to peel the outer layer before ricing, but it works well enough to blitz it whole. 

Stale Bread

Croutons may come to mind first but there are seemingly endless options for that rock hard loaf on your counter. Bread pudding and stuffing are great uses; for a lighter option, try Panzanella. This Italian bread salad is a classic summer dish that truly can be enjoyed any time of year. We love this recipe with pickled cherries.

Coffee Grounds 

Probably the most versatile of the bunch, spent coffee grounds have many practical uses, from fertilizer to body scrub. Sprinkle grounds directly around garden plants or tenderize meats by adding them to your favorite dry-rub. I’ve even made an exfoliating scrub by mixing grounds with honey and coconut oil that left my skin surprisingly soft. 

Cheese Rind

The rind is edible on most cheese and actually tastes good, particularly soft cheeses like brie. I encourage you to try it out if you haven’t before. Yet some are better for cooking than eating. Before you toss out hard cheese rinds like Parmesan, simply add to simmering soups, like minestrone, and sauces for up to two hours. It will need to be discarded after but your soup will gain a rich, savory flavor. 

General Vegetable and Fruit Scraps 

I didn’t think there would be much use for scraps aside from the compost pile but a little research proved otherwise. Drumroll, please… DIY fruit vinegar—an ultimate pantry staple. This version by Food Republic is straightforward. You will need a mason jar, cheesecloth, and patience. You can quick pickle vegetable scraps as you would onions and pickles, or take the process a step further and make your own seasoning salt. 

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