Picture this, you’re standing in your kitchen, chopped garlic and onions in neat piles on one side of your cutting board and the vegetables of your choice on the other. The vegetable stumps, peels, garlic and onion skins may be in one bowl ready to throw away but let’s hit pause for a second. That is money literally going in the bin!
Many of us were brought up thinking that certain parts of our fresh produce can be eaten, and the rest needs to be thrown away. When was the last time you dined at a restaurant that served unpeeled carrots or garlic cloves with their skins still on? I’m here to ask you to save your ends, stems, peels and skins because there are a number of ways you can get some additional use out of these food scraps!
Grow the stumps for a gift that keeps on giving
Most of the vegetables we find at our local farmer’s market and grocery stores can be regrown, either in water or in soil. Don’t worry if you don’t have a garden. Indoor gardening is a great way to bring the outdoors in! One of my favorite things to regrow in water are my spring onions. Just trim most of the green tops off, pop them in some fresh water and change the water every other day. You can also regrow a variety of vegetables like celery, romaine lettuce and cabbage. I recommend you have at least two inches of a stump and lett them sit in water, about half its height. Once they start producing new leaves, you can transfer them into soil.
Top tip: If you notice your onions are starting to get a little soft but have sprouted, that’s a sign they may be passed their best but you can definitely save the center and regrow new onions!
Save your peels, skins and tops for a delicious soup stock
You might be wondering what to do with food scraps like the skins of your garlic and onion, or the vegetables that have been sitting in the fridge too long and are sad and droopy. You can save vegetable peels, skins and tops in the freezer until you accumulate enough to prepare homemade vegetable stock.
Make chips out of peels
I have no problems eating vegetable peels but there are some people who are used to peeling their vegetables and fruit out of habit. Did you know that the skins of fruit and vegetables are packed with amazing nutrients?
If you absolutely need to peel your vegetables and fruit, save the peel and make baked chips. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius), lay the peels out on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Add seasoning, pop the tray in for 10-20 minutes and until you see the peels crisp. Make sure they don’t burn!
Have you ever thought about how expensive cleaning products are? Most of the time you’re paying for a cleaner which is 90% water! The next time you start running low, you could consider saving your citrus peels and make a homemade cleaner. There are many recipes online. The more commonly known ones use citrus peels and either white vinegar or at least 60% rubbing alcohol.
Top tip: Make sure all the peels are covered by the liquid you use. If you are using vinegar for your cleaner, you can put your used peels in the compost when you’re done. Keep your old jars and repurpose them to hold your cleaning products.
The last resort: compost
Let’s say you’ve exhausted all the ways to repurpose and upcycle your food scraps. You’ve regrown your ends and stems. You saved the peels and skins to make a savoury vegetable soup stock. You put on your chef hat and baked some chips and you made some homemade cleaning products. The only thing left to do is put the food scraps in the compost!
What is composting and why is it important?
It’s the process of recycling organic waste (such as food scraps) to produce compost, a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be used for growing. It’s incredibly important that we compost whenever possible. Organic waste that ends up sitting in landfills produces methane, a potent, harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. When we compost, we are making a huge difference!
Top tip: I like to use my bullet journal as a creative outlet for climate and environmental advocacy focusing on reducing one’s carbon footprint in easy ways. See more here.
Once you start getting creative with your food scraps, you’ll find the volume of rubbish you send to landfill drastically decreases. If you have been inspired by this post or would like to learn more easy ways to lower your ecological footprint, visit my Instagram or website. I’m excited to connect with you so we can learn and share with each other!
Belinda is an eco-blogger, bullet journalist and artist with a fascination for the zero-waste lifestyle.