Did you know that each year, about 119 billion pounds of food is wasted in the US? That equals about 130 billion meals and $408 billion in food thrown away. It is unbelievable to think that nearly 40% of the food in America is wasted every single year.
Besides using the food scraps for a compost pile or to grow new vegetables on your kitchen counter, many of these scraps can be used as an ingredient in different recipes, as a snack, or even to create a complete meal.
Let’s look at 7 foods that can be cooked from scraps that are often tossed away. I’m sure this will get you thinking of other foods that are often tossed away and what you can create with them.
Most people drain their bacon, pork, and beef fat and either dump it into the sink or toss it in the trash. Either way, this is not the best solution. Dumping fat down the sink can harm your plumbing. And there is no value in the drippings if thrown away.
Instead, consider draining the fat into a cup or jar and storing it in your refrigerator (it can last a few months), or place it on your counter away from direct sunlight and heat (it will last 1-2 weeks at room temperature).
The fat drippings can be used as cooking oil or grease. Besides using the fat drippings for cooking, you can make a delicious snack called cracklins (from pork fat) or gribenes (from chicken fat).
Recipe for Cracklins or Gribenes – A delicious salty snack or topping served over potatoes or liver and onions
- Collect fat trimmings and place them in a shallow pan
- Keep the different kinds of fat separate as they heat up differently
- Cover with enough water to submerge them
- Render the fat on low heat until the fat becomes crunchy and the liquid fat is rendered in the pan
- Then strain the liquid fat into a jar
- Set the crunchy fat pieces on a paper towel or cloth to drain off excess oil
You can make delicious homemade gravy from any type of meat scraps and fat left over from steak, pork chops, and ground beef.
Deglaze the frying pan with water, milk, bone broth, veggie broth, or chicken broth; agitate, stir, and scrape the pieces from the pan with a spatula. Take the meat scraps and add flour and water to make a rich and glossy gravy to add to any meal.
Gravies are wonderful additions to potatoes and meats of all types.
When making a salad or cutting up vegetables, there are inevitably some leftover pieces (beet greens, celery leaves, broccoli stocks, radish greens, and other edible stocks and leaves) that end up in the trash.
Instead, collect them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. These scraps are very nutritious and can be readily used in soups, salads, omelets, casseroles, etc., or consider sauteing them with other veggies for a tasty side dish served at any meal.
Fermented Foods from Scraps
Think about the discarded ends of cucumbers, the outer layers of onions, or the cores of cabbage that are still edible.
Instead of throwing them away, put them in a jar and ferment them. The fermented chopped veggies make a delicious tangy salad topper, snack, or relish substitute. What’s more? The veggie scraps are good for your gut health and overall digestion.
Fruit and Veggie Chips
Think about apple peels, sweet potato skins, carrot skins, cucumber peels, and other fruits and vegetable scraps.
Try making fruit and veggie chips by baking or dehydrating the skins. The chips are healthy, delicious, and there is no added cost! Take potatoes, for example. Try baking the skins for a crunchy snack. You can also shred the peels to make hash browns or a pot of rich, creamy potato soup.
Bones for Stock
The next time you cut up a whole chicken, you will see the bones that are left over. From the bones, you can make rich chicken stock.
Put the bones in a pot of salted water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 1-8 hours. Add more water when necessary as it evaporates when boiling.
You can use the stock for soups, casseroles, and any number of other recipes that call for a broth base or for broth flavoring.
Toss veggie ends (e.g., onions, celery stubs, tomato stems, garlic nubs, carrot skins, etc.) into a pot of boiling salted water. Cook for a few hours until fragrant. Add herbs and spices like rosemary and thyme for flavor.
Use the stock in other dishes. If you aren’t eating the veggies from the broth, dispose of them in a compost bin for further “reuse.”
Hopefully, this article will spark your thinking of other recipes that can be created with kitchen scraps. Chutneys, salsas, slaws, omelets, stews, casseroles… and much more. So much more!
There are so many benefits of cooking with food scraps. Some top ones include boosting your nutrition, stretching your food budget, and helping the environment to reduce food waste. You also become a more creative cook which makes each day in the kitchen even more exciting!
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