An easy way to produce next to no food waste AND stretch your food budget as far as it will go is to use up your food scraps and ensure nothing goes to waste. So if you have too much food going to waste in your home, here are some simple ways to use up even the smallest food scraps!
No Food Waste: Waste Not Want Not
We’ve talked before about food waste before here on LHL but we haven’t really gone into detail yet on how to do it. I think one of the best ways is just knowing what to do with certain scraps so that when you find yourself with these scraps on hand, you’ll have a plan for them. This will help to ensure you don’t just toss them because you aren’t sure what to do with them.
Here are some ideas on what to do with certain food scraps instead of throwing them away. The old adage is waste not want not, so here are some ideas to follow that advice! If you have more, make sure you shout them out in the comments section!
How to Have No Food Waste
Meat Scraps – Various soups, dog/cat treats, chili, stir fry.
Bones & Carcasses – Don’t toss that chicken carcass! Use it to make chicken stock. You can up your bones and carcasses right away or freeze chicken, turkey, duck, lamb or beef bones to turn into stock, broth or gravy later on. Beef bones that are large enough could be given to dogs to chew on.
Lettuce or Spinach – Bunny food (not iceberg), vegetable soup, homemade egg rolls, stuffing.
Carrots – Soups/make vegetable stock. Bunny treats. Chicken feed.
Oranges, Grapefruits, Other Citrus Fruits – Boil in water on the stove as a natural air freshener. Dry to add to teas. Make candied oranges. Place in a Mason jar and cover with vinegar to make an easy homemade citrus cleaner.
Potatoes – Soups. Drizzle oil and salt onclean skins and bake. Save the water for other things.
Tomatoes – Freeze scraps in a bag until you have enough to add to dishes. Feed to your chickens.
Onions – We save small pieces of these in a container in the fridge. Add to soups, pasta, or many other meals. You can also freeze the scraps and skins and add them to the pot when making chicken or beef stock to turn it into a rich, flavourful broth (or simply use them, along with other veggie scraps like garlic, carrots and celery, to make homemade vegetable broth).
Watermelon – You can pickle the rinds or dry the seeds. (Like Pumpkin Seeds).
Bananas – Mash up extras and freeze for banana bread or muffins. Place the peels in cars to remove bad smells. Add to compost to add potassium to your soil or make this easy Banana Peel Plant Fertilizer Spray!
Eggs & Eggshells – If you’re making a recipe that calls for egg yolks or whites only, save the unused part and use it to make something else. Make an egg white omelet or use the yolks for baking or brushing on pie crusts. Crush up eggshells and use them as a homemade fertilizer (they’re a great added source of calcium for your plants and help to prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes when added to before planting). Or simply add to your compost.
Coffee Grounds – Add to compost. Use as a soil amendment to adjust the PH balance of your soil and make it more acidic. Use dried, used grounds in homemade body products like soaps and scrubs.
Composting Kitchen Scraps
If you’re not sure what to do with leftover kitchen scraps, you can usually compost them to enhance your soil. Just keep in mind that if you compost non-organic scraps, that could affect the quality of your soil. Here’s a list of things you can compost, and things you cannot.
What kitchen scraps can I compost?
- fruit and veggie scraps
- coffee grounds
- paper towels, napkins, etc.
- brown paper lunch bags
- egg cartons
What shouldn’t I compost?
Do NOT compost the following items:
- meat and bones
- shellfish shells
- dairy products (milk, cream, cheese, etc.)
- metal, glass, tin
- plastic-like items that say “compostable.” (These items need much higher, controlled temperatures to actually break down and won’t usually break down in a home compost bin)
For anything you can’t compost and can’t reuse, try first to recycle it before throwing it out! Remember to wash out any items you plan to recycle and do not recycle products that have come into contact with raw meat.
Save Money and Live a More Frugal, Sustainable Life
It’s true that when you live by the philosophy of waste not want not, you can further utilize your resources, and live a more frugal and sustainable life!
Looking for other ways to start saving money? Here are a few more ideas to get you started:
- Ways to Make Your Produce Last Longer
- How to Re-Grow Store Bought Veggies
- Healthy Foods on a Budget
- How to Make Produce Last When You Shop Once a Month
- Cheap Meals to Make When You’re at the End of Your Budget
- How Condiments and Spices Can Save Money
- Money Saving Meals With Dried Beans
- 12 Simple Ways to Save on Groceries
- Food Allergies on a Budget
Want to learn how to make the most with what you have? I feature pages and pages of frugal tips in my book Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life along with over 130 recipes.
Do you follow the waste not want not lifestyle? What sort of things do you reuse or use up to save money and live a more sustainable, frugal life? Do you strive for no food waste? Let me know down below!
This blog post about No Food Waste: How to Use All of Your Food Scraps was originally published on Little House Living in March 2012. It has been updated as of January 2019.