Author: Lauren Plug
Food waste is a huge problem, but it doesn’t have to be a huge burden!
Food waste recycling can look different to everyone, like composting, giving new life to “unedible” parts of food, and everything in between. You may even be doing it already without knowing!
Join us as we nerd out about the importance of keeping your food waste out of a landfill. We’re providing actionable tips and ideas about how to repurpose your food waste by recycling your food scraps. Get your creative juices simmering with these 7 fun (and easy) recipes to try right now (or the next time you’ve accumulated some food scraps).
Stick around or go straight to the recipes below!
Why Save Food Scraps?
‘Food scraps’ refers to any kind of (human) food that was grown for consumption and then not eaten.
- Spoiled food that was never opened/touched.
- Uneaten leftovers.
- Any uneaten part of fruits and veggies (skin, peels, leafy parts, core).
- The ends, the tops, and any ‘ugly’ part of a veggie/fruit not consumed.
Think about how much food waste comes out of your house between cooking, baking, forgotten leftovers (groceries), and takeout. Now multiply that for every coffee shop, restaurant, grocery store, and person around the world. (It’s giving ick)
The United States alone discards over ⅓ of its total food supply.
But don’t get eco-depressed! Making just a few small changes — and spreading the word — can have a big impact.
4 Benefits of Recycling Food Waste
Preventing your food from going to landfills is single-handedly one of the most important things you can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and your own carbon footprint.
Pair that new habit with our plastic-free compostable household products and you’re an eco-rockstar!
Why else should you care about repurposing food waste?
When food gets thrown away, it’s more than a bag of spinach ending up in a landfill. The entire supply chain of water, land, and energy that went into getting that item to your table is also wasted. Including the fossil fuels and the process of making the plastic packaging.
Many food items are trashed prematurely and could be donated to help the millions of people and children living with food insecurity.
Are there any limits to what kind of food scraps can be reused or recycled? Not really! But always keep safety in mind especially when dealing with meats and dairy products.
What Kinds of Food Waste Can Be Recycled?
The absolute best part about repurposing food waste is the sheer variety of possibilities. Next time you’re chopping, destemming, mincing, or grating, think about how to turn these scraps into something delicious.
- Leafy Tops
- Any kind of green that grows out of the top of a veggie or fruit. Think strawberries and carrots.
- Cauliflower, broccoli, herbs, mushrooms.
- Potatoes, zucchini, carrots, onions, and garlic.
- Oranges, lemons, limes, and mangos.
- Can anyone say “DIY bone broth is actually super easy to make”?
- Apples, mangos, peaches, and cherries.
- “The Uglies”
- The ugly, unused ends or tops.
- Remaining pulp from DIY nut milk or from fruit and vegetable juicing.
- AM (or PM) Caffeine
- Coffee grounds and tea leaves (not the tea bags).
If you’re not sure thrifty cooking is right for you, there are more options!
How to Recycle Food Scraps
A recipe or two is fun but if a zero waste meal routine isn’t in your future, honestly, same. Here are four more ways to reduce your food waste.
There are so many options available to start composting. Remember, the internet is your friend (in this case).
Look into local private or public programs. You can also try composting at home by starting your own compost pile, using a tumbler, an in-ground system, or a compost appliance like Lomi (that turns food scraps and approved items — like Repurpose products — into fresh soil in just a few hours!).
Use veggie scraps to grow more veggies with a backyard garden, windowsill garden, or right in your fridge.
Check out farms in your area. Many accept food scraps for their own compost pile or because chickens will apparently eat (just about) anything.
Many types of food waste can be repurposed into non-food options such as cleaners made from citrus rinds and body scrubs made from used coffee grounds.
We’ve enjoyed hanging out with you but it’s time to get to the fun part: seven delicious ways to recycle your food waste!
7 Fun (And Easy) Ways To Recycle Food Waste
Use this clove-r recipe for a new seasoning that’s not garlic powder and not garlic salt.
How to: Save your garlic peels until you have enough (literally as many as you want). Wash them thoroughly and dry them on a towel. Put them on a baking sheet and bake until they’re nice and crispy. Add the crispy skins to a blender or food processor with a bit of salt. Use liberally on everything!
Save those carrot peels to make a crunchy treat to snack on while you’re preparing the rest of the meal.
How to: Save the peels next time you’re eating carrots. Wash the peels really really well and lightly pat dry with a towel. Add a bit of oil, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin powder, and cheddar cheese (sub nutritional yeast). Roast in the oven at 350F for 5-8 minutes. Or use the air fryer.
A DIY veggie broth is a great place to start your journey. Keep a bag in the freezer to save the peels, skins, seeds, and stems of veggies any time you’re prepping. When you have ‘enough’, make an easy veggie broth. DIY it or follow this recipe.
How to: Place your (frozen) scraps into a large pot. Add enough water to submerge the scraps leaving a bit of room on top. Add additional seasonings (bay leaves, or any extra herbs you have on had) and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes then strain the stock. Please put a bowl down to catch the broth before you strain. Let it cool, divvy it up into jars, and freeze what you don’t need right away!
Pro tip: Avoid citrus peels, cauliflower, and broccoli as they tend to make the stock bitter.
You might be thinking there’s no way to repurpose strawberry tops but there most certainly is!
How to: Add 1 cup of strawberry tops, ¾ cup sugar, & ¾ cup water to a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the liquid is red with the consistency of syrup. Remove from heat, let it cool, and strain into a container to store it. Use it for desserts, french toast, drinks, and more!
Broccoli stems are tough but highly nutritious. When cooked the right way they can be absolutely delicious! Like in this broccoli stem pasta sauce.
How to: Cut the tough ends off the stem and lightly peel the sides. Steam for a few minutes until they’re softened then add them to a blender. Add garlic, salt, pepper, ¼ cup of nutritional yeast, and 2 cups of that veggie broth you just made. Blend it all together until it’s smooth, add any additional seasonings, and pour over cooked pasta!
Does your pickle jar always seem to have a few lone pickles hanging around? Next time you have some potatoes that need to be eaten, tackle two veggie scraps at one time!
How to: Thinly slice up your potatoes and add to a bowl. Pour the pickle juice over the potatoes and let them marinate for about an hour. Drain and lightly pat the potatoes dry, sprinkle with dried dill until the potatoes are fully coated. Cook in the air fryer for 10 minutes at 400F, flipping halfway through. Serve with your favorite dip!
Are you still slightly afraid of an apple tree growing in your belly and can’t bring yourself to eat that apple core? Turn it into ACV!
How to: Add your apple parts to a large jar (like a mason jar). Fully submerge the apples with warmish water and add 1 tablespoon of sugar for every 1 cup of water. Lay a cheesecloth or other breathable cloth over the top of the jar, and seal it right over the fabric. Let it sit for 21 days. After 21 days, strain it out through the cheesecloth then let it ferment for another 9-10 days. Congratulations, you’re a homesteader! Kidding, but the Leaf and Bean Farm makes it look so easy!
We know it can be depressing thinking about your individual actions in a world of billions of people. Yes, the majority of changes need to come from governments and corporations ( that you can also influence) but every day you’re also advocating for change with your actions and your purchases. Making a small, easy, and long-term change — like food waste recycling — really can have a huge impact.
You have a whole community of like-minded people right here at Repurpose whenever you need us.