~ Save money and reduce food waste by using up every single part of the fruits and veggies you buy – including lots of parts you normally throw away! These brilliant recipes show you how … and I bet you’ll be as surprised as I was at some of these deliciously creative (and healthy) ideas! ~
You know I always try to keep it light and cheerful around here. Party in the kitchen, anyone?!? Yeah – that’s the way I like things!
So forgive me just a tiny moment of griping, will you? (I promise it will all turn out fun in the end!)
Here’s the rub: food waste. Food waste really bothers me.
I’m certainly not perfect in this department. (Uggggh … witness the utter sadness I feel when I unearth some once-gorgeous produce that was forgotten and left to moulder in the bottom of the crisper 🙁 ). Not perfect. But I’m trying.
And, when you check out the stats, it seems like most all of us could do a bit more trying. (No judging here … just sayin’.)
Quantifying the Food Waste Problem
The USDA estimates that more than 30% of our food supply is wasted. Ummmm … guys? That’s about ONE-THIRD of our food!
Want to quantify that differently? Well, in a 2010 analysis, that correlated to approximately 133 billion (billion!) pounds of wasted food with a price tag of $161 billion (and again … billion … billions of dollars!), just here in America.
The numbers get even bigger when you take a global perspective. A United Nations report found that, worldwide, people similarly waste about one-third of the food produced for human consumption – totaling a staggering 1.3 billion tons (those billions just keep coming).
That sure adds up in dollars spent, and also in burgeoning landfills. According to the EPA, food waste accounts for a larger proportion of our nation’s trash than any other single material.
So, yeah … I find this all a teeeeeny bit vexing. And I know that a lot of you do, too.
Not only is it a tremendous waste of nutrients that could go a long, long way toward feeding the world’s hungry, food-insecure populations, but it’s also a colossal waste of resources and effort. And, closer to home, it’s a waste of your hard-earned dollar. Especially if you’re purchasing higher-priced organic produce, you’d no doubt like to use every bit of that purchase that you possibly can!
Tiny Changes Add Up
Sure, I try to find little ways to do better, to toss less and creatively use more: the minuscule portions of leftovers I won’t let the family throw out because there’s still just enough to make a perfect little snack … the brown bananas we didn’t quite eat in time, that are now piling up in the freezer awaiting their reincarnation as smoothies or banana bread … the bits of leftover chicken I salvage for baked dog treats and even frosty, post-run frozen puppy treats.
Yeah, I know that food waste is a huge topic to tackle … we’ve got numbers in the billions here, after all! But lots of small efforts can add up to something really big!
How ’bout we start with produce? It’s one of the largest categories of food waste here in America, with the USDA reporting that Americans waste about one-third of the produce we purchase.
So let’s get creative! What are we tossing out that we could actually be saving, and turning into something surprising and wonderful? (Congrats: you’ve made it through the rant portion of this post … here comes the fun part!)
Vegetable stems and stalks and peels … fruit rinds and even pits. Seriously! These are all fair game!
Take a little peek at the ideas below, gathered up from other food bloggers who were also looking for innovative ways to use up fruit and vegetable scraps!
Not only are these pretty darn wonderful, but … I’ll admit … I actually was super surprised at some of these creative ideas!
Spicy Swiss Chard Soba Noodle Stir Fry from Mel at A Virtual Vegan
(Nope … that’s not celery! You’re looking at Swiss chard stems that didn’t get thrown away! Brilliant!
Spiralized Veggie Salad from Jenn at Peas & Crayons
If you think broccoli florets are the only useful part of the veggie – look at how those broccoli stalks are right at home with other gorgeously vibrant vegetables in this stunning salad!
Beet Green Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette and Feta from Katie at Healthy Seasonal Recipes
Katie also offers great tips on beet green nutrition, seasonality, storage and prep!
Curried Carrot Fritters from Mel at A Virtual Vegan
Sure, you could use cilantro or parsley in these easy fritters … but I love Mel’s great idea to use the whole carrot, finely chopping those leftover carrot tops instead!
Celery Lentil Salad from Samantha at My Kitchen Love
Those celery leaves are so refreshing and pretty … I love that this salad includes them, right along with the stalks!
Chard Stalk Hummus from Kathy at Healthy Slow Cooking
Instead of chickpeas, Kathy uses chard stalks in this hummus dip, which has a lighter texture, but all the same flavors as traditional hummus! You can use typical green Swiss chard stalks to make a classic white hummus, or have some fun with red or rainbow stalks to make pink or yellow hummus!
Shaved Broccoli Salad from Debi at Life Currents
Here’s another great idea for salvaging those usually-unused broccoli stalks. A veggie peeler quickly and easily creates perfect ribbons for this lovely salad!
Sherried Black Bean and Broccoli Stem Soup from Kirsten at Farm Fresh Feasts
A smooth and elegant vegetarian soup made from humble ingredients – including broccoli stalks that were saved from the landfill. Easy, nourishing and thrifty, too!
Garden Veggie Burgers from Rebecca at Strength & Sunshine
Surprise! No orange carrots here … just the feathery, leafy tops!
Pineapple Core Crisps from Nicky at Kitchen Sanctuary
Huh! Who knew that you could use the core of the pineapple?!? Oven dried into little petals, that core you always used to throw away becomes a fiber-rich snack!
Coconut Braised Beet Greens from Kelly at Tasting Page
With the option of adding a protein like shrimp or chicken, this can be a pretty side dish, or even a satisfying main. Thanks to those super-nutritious greens, it’s loaded with protein, iron, calcium and lots of vitamins and antioxidants!
Scrap Vegetable Broth from Ariella at Perspective Portions
Transform vegetable scraps (like carrot and onion peels and scallion ends) into a flavorful vegetable broth. Dietician Ariella uses the broth in homemade soups and even in her recipe for freshly baked onion rolls.
Great ideas so far, right? So many I can’t wait to try! But my winners in the easy-peasy department are definitely all the gorgeous pesto recipes I found! Toss everything in a food processor and call it a day!
Oh – and pat yourself on the back for rescuing greens, stalks and stems that you probably would otherwise have thrown away. Presto-change-o … you just turned them into something new and delicious! (Or maybe I should say Pesto-change-o!)
Radish Greens Pesto from Carol at From a Chef’s Kitchen
Carol recommends serving this bright, nutritious pesto with fish, chicken, pasta, potatoes, or any other way you’d serve traditional pesto. Bonus: In an ultimate don’t-waste-a-bit maneuver, you can even freeze this yummy pesto – a terrific way to use up a bumper crop of radish greens to enjoy all winter long!
Vegan Kale Stem Pesto from Kathy at Healthy Slow Cooking
Kathy uses both parsley stems and kale stems in this pesto recipe, and offers tips to adjust the consistency so it’s a thicker paste for spreading on sandwiches and pizzas, or a thinner sauce that you can stir into pastas and soups.
Beet Green Pesto from Julia at The Roasted Root
With lots of ideas for substitutions, you can make this nutritious pesto vegan, or switch up the flavor profile with different nuts.
Carrot Top Mint Pesto from Kelly at Tasting Page
While this would be terrific on top of meat, fish or pasta, I adore Kelly’s fun idea of layering carrot on carrot by topping warm, roasted carrots with this easy pesto made from the leafy carrot tops!
You might not be too surprised to see all the ingenious ways to use up fruit and vegetable parts in things like stir fries, salads, and even those gorgeous pestos. But I bet you’ll find these next ideas a little more unexpected – I sure did! Winning the award for “Most Surprising” are these seriously creative drink and dessert recipes that turn fruit and veggie scraps into decadently delightful sweet treats!
Carrot Peeling Cake with Cinnamon Icing from Kate at Veggie Desserts
With nutritious upgrades like Greek yogurt and wholemeal flour, this cake is loaded with both flavor and virtue! Plus, Kate offers other creative ways to use up leftover carrot peels. (Carrot Moscow Mule, anyone?)
Light and Delicious German Apple Cake from Roxana at The Delicious Crescent
This healthier take on German Apfelkuchen features unpeeled apples. Not only does that save those peels from being wasted, but it takes full nutritional advantage of the fiber and antioxidants that hang out in those often-discarded peels!
Strawberry Stems Infused Water from Sheri at Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
Light, refreshing and so frugal, too!
Watermelon Rind Cake from Raksha at Raksha’s Kitchen
Pureeing the watermelon rind saves a large portion of the fruit from the compost heap … and ingeniously adds moisture and nutrition to this lovely cake!
Dark Chocolate Orange Slice Wheels from Roxana at The Delicious Crescent
You don’t peel the oranges before making these luxuriously delicious, nutritious treats. Nope! That peel not only adds great nutrients, but also lots of terrific flavor!
Homemade Mango Soda from Raia at Raia’s Recipes
This recipe just might be the very most surprising of all! With just three simple ingredients, it derives flavor from … are you ready??? … mango pits! Seriously! Talk about using up every possible part of the fruit! Be sure to check out Raia’s suggestions for other fruit flavors to try, too!
And in a shameless bit of self-promotion, don’t forget about our very own, most favorite way to use up broccoli stalks (like, after you’ve made our Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Pasta 😉 ) …
Parmesan Roasted Broccoli Stalks from Two Healthy Kitchens
8 thoughts on “23 Ingenious Recipes That Reduce Food Waste and Use Up Fruit and Vegetable Scraps”
Love these recipes and that they can seriously reduce food waste in the kitchen – SO IMPORTANT!
I totally agree, Jenn! Food waste really is a huge global issue, and I always feel so guilty tossing food that I didn’t use up in time. I truly enjoyed sifting through all the submissions for this post and finding the ones that really inspired me. So glad you liked them, too! ~Shelley
What a great post and such fab recipes! Food waste is something that we all should avoid as much as possible. It’ so sad how much gets thrown away when there are people out there starving.
I really need to try those Pineapple Core Crisps. So clever. Thank you for including my recipes!
I know – aren’t those pineapple crisps a brilliant idea?!? Seriously – I just went from one recipe to the next here, as I selected the recipes I wanted to include – thinking how inventive, how resourceful they all were! Thanks so much for offering to let me include your Carrot Fritters and that stunning Stir Fry! 🙂 ~Shelley
This is such a great help! I’m all about not wasting food. I can’t wait to dive into this and see all the great recipes. As I skimmed I saw several that looked perfect for me. Thanks! Pinned to save for later as well.
Thanks so much for letting me showcase your gorgeous salad, Debi – and also for sharing these ideas on Pinterest! I totally agree – every time I worked on this post, I would get so excited about all the unique ideas! It really proves to me that, with a little ingenuity, it’s pretty easy to incorporate parts of fruits and vegetables that we often mindlessly toss out. Putting this post together really inspired me, and I hope it gives others a little spark of excited inspiration, too! 🙂 ~Shelley
I love this! So many great ways to use what you’d otherwise throw away. Thank you so much for sharing my mango soda, too! Pinning and sharing!
My daughter and I were actually chatting about your Mango Soda today at lunch, Raia! She ordered a locally brewed, lavender kambucha drink at an adorable little cafe in our town. She hadn’t seen your recipe yet, and I was excitedly telling her about what a unique idea it is! 🙂 So delighted to share it – one more creative way to help people stretch their food dollars a little and also help combat food waste. Total win! ~Shelley