Food Scraps: Great Ideas and Recipes on How to Use Them

Irene Aguirre 2021-03-30 8 min

Food Waste is a real problem that has a big place in climate change. It is a very profound problem with its roots in the excess production of food. Even though it sounds irreparable, there is a way to contribute from our homes, and that is by integrating into our day-to-day life a key player: food scraps. So let me show you a few recipes you can follow to manage your food scraps.

Girl and mom shopping for fruits
Photo by Kamaji Ogino from Pexels

Food Waste


Let's first talk a little about what is food waste and how important it is. So, we are always talking about waste, how to reduce it, how to recycle it, and how to stop it. And when we think about reducing waste, we think about plastic and other residues. But have you ever heard about food waste? if not, don't worry it's not that #trending. Is it food loss or food waste? The difference is based on the stage of the food chain in which it occurs.

According to the FCRN (Food Climate Research Network) Food Loss is the decrease in edible food mass throughout the part of the supply chain that specifically leads to edible food for human consumption, so this happens during production, post-harvest, and processing stages- i.e. before it even gets to the store. On the other hand, Food Waste occurs in the final stage of the food chain, when the food is already at the store or in our homes.

Here is how it works. Food waste is basically food that is not eaten. From that old bag of cookies you have deep in your pantry to a whole crop of soybeans that didn't arrive at its destiny on time. It occurs in every step of the food system, which means it can happen during production, processing, distribution, retail, and consumption (📍you are here). And that is why food scraps are a great tool for you to have.


As I said before, food waste is a major player in climate change, and here is why:


Surplus food (food that is produced but never eaten) requires a big amount of resources. Basically, food goes through the entire process of growing, harvesting, transporting, cooling, cooking, or preparing just to be discarded. And we all know this is a big waste of energy. Plus it contributes to climate change. The total volume of water used each year to produce food that is lost or wasted is 250km3 is equivalent to the annual flow of Russia's Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva. Similarly, 1.4 billion hectares of land - 28 percent of the world's agricultural area - is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted.

According to FAO, if food wastage were a country (talking about the Greenhouse emissions levels) it would be the third-largest emitting country in the world. Once the food gets settled in landfills it decomposes without oxygen. This is a phenomenon scientists call anaerobic digestion. It creates methane gas. If you thought carbon dioxide was good at trapping heat, methane gas kicks its butt. It is 25 times more effective at trapping heat than CO2, resulting in warming up our planet.
Okay, cool. Now that we know the basics we can go ahead and attack the problem. As always, the best problem is the one that doesn't exist so here are a few tips and tricks to reduce your food waste.


How to Reduce Food Waste

  • Plan ahead. Make a list of what you already have at home before re-stocking, and get only what you need. This way you'll avoid buying too much food and impulse-buying at the supermarket.
  • Organization. Every two weeks organize your pantry and fridge so you know what you have. This will help you have a clearer vision of what needs to be used sooner rather than later. Fun tip! You can set up an “Eat soon” shelf or drawer and try to make recipes with ONLY the things you find there. (That'll feed your belly and your imagination)
  • Recycle. Explore new uses for leftover waste. Before dumping it in your garbage can (or compost bin) try turning them into something new. I love good vegetable scraps and bones soup stock.
  • Location, location, location. Storing is very important. If you do it properly your food will remain fresh, and last longer so you won't end up throwing some soggy lettuce and moldy lemons. Check out this Fridge Storage Guide.
  • One man's trash is another man's treasure. Donate any extra fresh produce and vegetables to the local food banks. You can find your nearest foodbank here. And last, but not at all, least:
  • COMPOST! When food decomposes properly with oxygen in a compost bin or on a forest floor, creates water vapor and a bit of carbon dioxide. It also leaves behind a multitude of rich nutrients to feed a healthy ecosystem in the soil. Here is our Ultimate Guide on Composting at Home for you to get started!

If you are interested in Food Waste, you should check out our post on Simple Steps Towards a Zero Food Waste.


Food Scraps. What to do with them?

We all know some of these things are hard to achieve, and most of the time we end up with a lot of food scraps even though we try our best to avoid them. So I propose you focus on your food scraps and try to make some amazing things from them.
Let's get started. We´ll be covering veggies, fruits, and meats.


Veggie Food Scraps:


You know what I'm about to say, right?


Mmmm, yup vegetable broth is the best thing for you to make from food scraps! This is an item that always comes in handy. Want to make a risotto? you will need some veggie broth, craving soup? veggie broth, making some chili? we all know it tastes better with homemade broth.
So there you go, before putting your food scraps in the trash bin or in your compost, put it all in a pot, and I´m saying everything. From little bits of celery to the ends of onions to corn cobs. Everything! Toss it in a pan with heavily salted water and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Wait till it cools down and store it in the freezer.
Here are some directions for you:

Food Scraps Vegetable Broth:

A bowl with broth
Photo by jenvit keiwalinsarid from Pexels
Ingredients:
  • Vegetable scraps (everything you have!)
  • Water
  • Salt (optional)
Directions:
  1. Toss the veggies in a pot of water and let simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  2. When the time passes, strain the scraps.
  3. Put the broth in jars and reserve the food scraps for the compost pile.
  4. Enjoy!

That was super easy, right? Let's see what else we can do with our food scraps!

Food Scraps Potato Skins Crisps


Who here actually leaves the potato skin on while cooking? Most of us (including me) leave the potato skin out and just eat the inside, but! You have no idea what you can do whit them. Some people avoid eating the skins of any non-organic product, but if you feel comfortable eating them this recipe is for you.
This is a kind of recipe you can do on the go, is super simple, and it's a great snack. If you have kids, they'll love it.

Potatos some peeled some not
Photo by Peter Schad on Unsplash
Ingredients:
  • Potato scraps
  • Olive oil or butter (I prefer butter because, yum!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dressing of choice (optional)
Directions:
  1. Wash very well your potato peels. I like to use a sponge to get everywhere.
  2. In a large pan, hit your oil of choice
  3. Toss the potato peels and fry them until crispy
  4. Serve with your dressing of choice! In my house, we do spicy ketchup!

Fruit Food Scraps


In my household, this is the biggest food scrap group we have. You can use them for a variety of things, but let's check out my favorites.
You knew you can do your own vinegar? That's tight and it is actually very simple. The all-time favorite, apple vinegar, is very easy to make, but other fruits such as pears or oranges also work.

An eaten apple on grass
Photo by Andrew Johnson on Unsplash

Fruit Scraps Vinegar:

Ingredients:
  • Food Scraps of choice
  • Sugar
  • Water
Directions:
  1. Put all your fruit scraps in the jar
  2. Add a tablespoon of sugar
  3. Add water until every piece of the fruits is covered
  4. Secure the lid and let it sit for a few days until you can smell the vinegar.

This won't take more than 5 days, and you'll see how good it is with a salad.

Food scraps vitamin water

Have you ever been to a restaurant where they serve you vitamin water? Well, it is just water with some kind of fruit in it, maybe some cucumbers but nothing else!
To make strawberry-infused water you need to save the leafy parts of the strawberry.

A Strawberry plant
Photo by Jeeray TANG on Unsplash
Ingredients:
  • Strawberries scraps or any fruit of your choice
  • Water
  • Ice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Fill a jar with the strawberry scraps
  2. Pour water in it
  3. Let it sit for an hour or two in the fridge
  4. Serve right next to the pool on a summer day!

Now you can treat your family and friends with a nice cold beverage made entirely with food scraps.


What About Meat Food Scraps?


There are a few options for your meat scraps. The first that comes to mind is a broth of course. You can follow the veggie scraps broth procedure and just add the meat.
Also, another great way to use it is by making a meat scrap chili. Maybe the bones and the fatty part of the stake do not look too appealing on your plate. But if you put them in a pot filled with veggies, beans, and delicious spices you won't even notice that they are there (or you will because they will make everything richer and tastier).

A bowl woth stew
Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Food Scraps Chili

Ingredients:
  • Meat food scraps (remember the bones)
  • Your ongoing chili base
Directions:
  1. Add it to your chili and let cook overnight!
  2. Done!

See? You don't need to make complicated stuff or recipes to actually enjoy food scraps. This zero-waste trend is getting bigger! Check out Max La Manna on Instagram, this amazing cook from the UK that makes vegan recipes cooking with every part of the veggies. Let me know if you try any of his recipes!

Irene Aguirre

Copywriter, nature lover and feminist activist

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