Don't Throw That Out! 19 Great Meals You Can Make From Scraps


Trying to save money? Are you also interested in cutting back on food waste? Sure, most of us are on board with that. What you may not know is that you are probably tossing out both money and nutrients every day. Don't be put off by the word, "scraps." These 19 food scrap meal ideas are easy and delicious — and practically free. (See also: 9 Money Lessons to Take From the Great Depression)

1. Power Bowl Beet Greens

Beet greens, or tops, are my favorite "greens." All you need to do is to wash, dry, and sauté those greens. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil. Add a tablespoon of chopped onion and stir until it is tender and translucent. Add beet greens, stir, and cook until the beet greens are wilted. A dash of balsamic vinegar on top and some chopped bacon really "make" this dish. This is makes a nice power bowl with a side of grains (quinoa or barley are good), a poached egg, and a little diced, cooked squash.

2. Juice Pulp Muffins

Are you a juicer? My favorite juice is carrot-ginger. When I make it, I save the carrot and ginger pulp. It makes a delicious muffin. Just take your favorite, basic muffin recipe (here is mine) and add ¼ cup of pulp. This is also good with pineapple pulp.

3. Candied Orange Peels

These candied orange peels take a couple of days to make, but they are well worth it. I made them as Christmas gifts one year and they were a hit. Watch for oranges to go on sale, and DIY some cute packaging for adorable treats.

4. Roasted Seeds

Seeds are full of nutrients. You probably know to save pumpkin seeds (soak them overnight, drain, then spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil and salt; roast), but did you know you can also roast cantaloupe seeds? They are high in protein, fiber, and vitamin E, so roast away. They are great for snacking, or sprinkled onto a salad.

5. Onion Skins for Soup

Onion skins are full of flavor, so next time you peel an onion, save those skins. Either freeze for stock, or just toss into soup or broth for extra flavor. Remove before serving.

6. Fish Stock

You may have made beef or chicken stock, but how about a fumet? Fumet is the French term for a fish stock. Using fumet in a poached salmon, or in linguine with clam sauce gives a huge flavor boost.

7. Broccoli Stalks

For years, I just chopped the florets off the broccoli to cook and tossed the rest. Big mistake, because it's all edible. Slice the stalks thinly and cook with the rest of the broccoli, or save for another use, like a stir-fry. The leaves, too, can be eaten. Just wash them and sauté.

8. Celery Leaves for Broth

I have never understood why grocers remove celery leaves. They are the most flavorful part. I keep them in a bag in my freezer until I am ready to make chicken stock. Just toss them in with your other scraps for a super-flavorful broth.

9. Beef Stock

Cutting scraps from beef? Don't throw the fatty scraps away. Put them into a freezer bag and later, make beef stock. Here's how.

10. Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Ever heard of pickled watermelon rinds? They are delicious, and really easy to make. They are refreshing right out of the jar, or added to a salad.

11. Beef Bone Broth

My mother rarely gave bones to our poodle. Instead, she made Beef Bone Broth, which was delicious.

12. Chicken Stock

Speaking of broth, done with that rotisserie chicken? Make chicken stock! It's so easy, and so much more flavorful than the canned stuff.

13. Apple Peel Smoothie

I love the idea of making a healthy smoothie using apple peels. Or, you can roast the peels for a fun, fiber-filled snack.

14. Lemon Peel Butter

Done with a lemon? Zest it, and make this yummy compound butter. Put a dollop of this on a grilled steak or a piece of salmon. Or, save the lemon peels and put them inside your next roast chicken for extra lemony flavor.

15. Steamed Carrot Tops

Carrot tops can easily be steamed or sautéed, and they make a great side dish. Or, if you are a smoothie fan, wash and toss in the blender, along with the other ingredients.

16. Herb Stem Dressing

Don't waste those herb stems! They are good in salads or stock; you can also use them to infuse oils and vinegar. They are even good tossed into scrambled eggs.

17. Bread Heel Croutons

Not everyone in my household likes the heel of a loaf of bread, but nobody complains when I use them to make croutons. Save them in a freezer bag. When you want fresh croutons for a salad, just defrost, slice into small squares, and sauté in olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt and toss over a salad.

18. Cereal Cookies

Right now, I am staring at a box of cornflakes. There must be a cup of them left in the box, but everyone seems to be tired of cornflakes for breakfast. Solution? Cookies! Cornflakes are a great addition to a basic cookie mix. Also, leftover unsweetened cereals can be tossed with crackers, pretzels, and nuts, and baked in the oven with a little butter, garlic salt, and oregano.

19. Nut Butter

I seem to accumulate bags of leftover nuts. Solution? Nut butter, my newest addiction. Using roasted nuts, just toss into your blender or food processor. It takes patience, so don't give up. Add a tiny bit of honey, if you'd like a little more sweetness.

What's your favorite way to use food scraps?

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Guest's picture

The candied orange peel is such a great idea! I checked out several videos on YouTube and found one that I'm going to follow when I try this. The link in your article seems to spend an over abundance of time boiling because the pith is used. I think I'll opt for just the skin. I never thought you could make your own so I'm very excited about trying this!

I'd like to try the heal of the bread into croutons now that my kids are grown. I actually get a shot at the coveted heels now! When they were little I used to catch them cutting both ends off of the cooling bread! Thanks for the ideas.

Guest's picture

Hi! It does take a lot of work, but boy, are they good. If you can find clear packaging bags and pretty ribbon, they are a really good gift.

My family steals the croutons right out of the pan. It's a wonder any of them make it to the salad. :-) Thanks for commenting! -Marla

Guest's picture

I'm with you on the candied orange peels, but candied lemon peels are even better. You don't have to take the "bitterness" out. Thicker skins make a more toothsome candied peel.

You can cook up a lovely jelly with apple peels and cores. It's a great save when you're making sauce or a mess of apple pies. Boil the peels and cores in water and drain as you would for regular jelly, and follow the recipe on the pectin box. It's a bit cloudier than regular apple jelly and kind of pinkish but has a delicate floral sense to it.

A Depression era friend said her mom would make jelly from the sweetened juice left over from canned fruit. Treat is as if it were straight juice when following the recipe. Peach is especially good.

Guest's picture

Ooo, great idea, Olivia. I usually use my lemon peels for zest but will try holding some back to try this.

Now that is a real money-saver -- making jelly with the peels and cores! I think I remember my mom doing that! Summer is here so maybe it's time to make some jelly.

Tx for commenting! :-) - Marla