Did you know that, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, nearly 40% of the U.S. food supply ends up as food waste? That equates to roughly a pound of food waste per person in America.
To put that into perspective, the 2018 U.S. population was estimated to be 328,953,020 just this last November. If each of these people threw out a pound of food in some form or another every single day for 365 days, you can imagine the mountains of food just wasting away instead of being put to good use.
In what is often described as a starving world, we really can’t afford to continue down such a wasteful path.
The good news is that there are quite a few ways that each of us can reduce our food waste every single day, each of them involving saving food scraps as opposed to tossing them in the landfill. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort and heck, it’s actually even useful because it saves you money and supplements your health in one blow on the cheap!
Here is a list of 9 different food scraps you can start saving to help eliminate food waste today while doing your part to keep the planet healthy!
1. Keep The Tops Of Those Carrots!
Just because certain foods are known as root vegetables doesn’t mean that the only part that’s edible is the root itself. In fact, the tops of many root veggies are often as nutritious as the roots are on their own.
Such is the case with carrot tops, which actually contain a higher nutrient-density than just the carrot alone. They have a crisp, earthy flavor profile and make excellent additions to soups, stews, salads and even specialty sauces like pesto!
So, the next time you’re roasting some carrots go ahead and hang onto those tops by putting them in a Ziploc bag and storing them in the fridge or the freezer if you won’t be using them within the week.
2. Keep Your Beet Greens, Too!
You can keep your beet greens for the same reasons as you would your carrot tops. They have a delicious, earth-rich flavor and are packing a ton of nutrients.
Particularly high in A and C vitamins, as well as calcium and iron, there is no reason you shouldn’t be incorporating these into your diet, especially if you’re already using the beets anyway.
Just keep the greens next time you use beets in a recipe, and you’ve already got a tasty side dish for a meal later in the week. A quick sauté in butter with a dash of salt and pepper will have you wondering why you ever threw them out in the first place!
3. Make Good Use Of All Those Egg Shells
Egg shells are probably one of the most versatile food scraps in your kitchen’s arsenal. They can be dried and coarsely ground to act as a safe abrasive for cleaning, dried and powdered into a calcium supplement for your soil, and more. Perhaps one of the best uses for them, though, is seed starting.
When a seedling first breaks the soil, they are very delicate. By putting a couple tablespoons of soil into an eggshell and starting your seed, you can keep it in the shell from start to finish and just pop the whole thing in the soil when you’re ready to plant in the ground.
The shell is completely biodegradeable and will feed your plant and soil at the same time while allowing you to avoid the harsh consequences that can occur with transplanting from root damage.
4. The Stems Of Broccoli Are Good Eating
The stems of broccoli are just as appetizing as the curly heads of green themselves. Slightly more mellow in flavor, this veggie stalk is deceptive in how jam-packed with health fortifying nutrients they are.
In fact, broccoli stems offer up more Vitamin C, iron, antioxidants, calcium, and fiber than that of its dark green-tipped counterparts, and only contain slightly less vitamin K than the tops (dark green veggie=vitamin K).
There are plenty of ways to use them, but one of the simplest and most delicious is in a good ol’ broccoli slaw.
5. Save Your Cucumber Skins
Apparently, there has been a couple of generations of misinformation regarding cucumber skins. While homegrown garden varieties of cucumbers can be bitter with the skin left on, most cukes that you’ll find at your grocery store and Farmer’s Markets are very mellow throughout the refreshing vegetable, skins included.
Of course, you always want to wash the outer layer of any veggie, but that is really all that they need. The dark green cucumber skins offer loads of vitamin K and contain many other healing properties as well that benefit your skin as much as your gut!
If you must peel them first, hang onto the skins and keep them in the fridge. When you want to add a little flavor to your water, just toss a couple of the skins in and you will want to drink a gallon!
6. Keep Your Banana Peels, Too!
As if you needed an excuse to eat more bananas, there is more to this happy fruit than just the sweet starchy flesh. The peel of bananas are equally nutritious as the fruit, and can actually help you sleep, too!
If you’re suffering from a little light insomnia, take your banana peel and chop it up into small chunks, then bring water to a boil and steep the banana peel for about 10 minutes to make a delightful banana tea that will lull you off into a restful slumber.
7. Citrus Fruit Peels
Everyone knows the delightful zing that citrus fruit juices add to soups, sauces, and baked goods, but did you know their uses can be stretched even further?
As a matter of fact, most of the nutrients that can be found in citrus fruits resides in the oils, and most of those oils are trapped in the peel of the fruit itself. This is why adding just a pinch of lemon or orange zest can take your baked goods from scrumptious to out of this world delicious!
Often though, we don’t use zest in our dishes unless specifically called for, but they can add a punch of flavor to just about everything, including your smoothies, and are calorie, carb, and sugar-free!
Take advantage of these free powerful flavors by zesting all of your citrus fruits before using their other parts in a recipe. You can put them in an air-tight jar and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months!
8. Apple Peels
Just like with most of the food “scraps” mentioned above, apple skins or peels are packing a plethora of nutrition that frequently goes into the waste bin.
If you are the type of person who prefers their apples peeled before eating, hang onto those skins and store them in a jar in the freezer.
You can then add them to your smoothies for additional nutrition and flavor, or you can even use them to make your very own miracle drug; Apple Cider Vinegar!
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9. Ends, Pieces, Skins, And Stalks Of Any Other Veggie
In addition to all the powerhouse food scraps mentioned above, you eliminate food waste even further by saving every other type of veggie scrap you have leftover from cooking.
These can be stored in the freezer until you have enough to make a rich vegetable broth, or you can add them to a bone broth for a deeper flavor profile.
Alternatively, all of the food scraps mentioned above make wonderful food for your compost pile if you like to garden, and much of it can also be fed to chickens. These are just a few of the ways you can make use of food scraps, and keep them from becoming food waste.