Here's how to turn your healthy food scraps into something delicious

Photo: marilyna (iStock)

We know that wasting food is bad for planet, and according to this article in Australia’s Daily Mail, it could be bad for us, too. Some of the stuff we throw in the trash without much consideration is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all those things could make you feel slightly less guilty when you’re stuffing your face with candy. While some of these items will come as no surprise to many of you, there are others that are... interesting. As The Takeout’s culinary expert, I’m going to bulk up their list with some recommendations on ways you can actually incorporate these things into your life, instead of just reading this and immediately forgetting about it when something more interesting pops up on Twitter.

Chicken bones

You’ve probably heard of bone broth before. If you only have a few chicken bones, put them in a large freezer bag and stash them in the freezer. Add more bones every time you have them on hand—if you’re a fan of supermarket rotisserie chicken, this can add up pretty quickly. When you’ve got a full bag, dump it in a slow cooker or Instant Pot with some aromatics and vegetable scraps (more on that in a bit), fill the whole thing up with water, and make yourself some easy stock out of “garbage.” With the slow cooker, I like setting it on low right before bed so I can wake up to a house that smells like rich, simmering chicken stock. With an Instant Pot, cook it on high for an hour.

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Carrot and potato skins

There’s not reason not to be eating these! Just give your vegetables a good scrub before cooking. If you must peel them, steal the tip I gave you from the chicken bones. Potato skins are great on their own when tossed with some oil and salt and roasted at 400 degrees—just pull them when they’re nice and crisp (about 15 minutes, longer if the skins are bigger). You can put carrot peels right in the bag with the chicken bones or keep them in their own bag for vegetable stocks.

Celery leaves

These are so tasty in salads, and can also make a really nice garnish, à la parsley. You can also simply nibble on them with some salt while you’re waiting for your dinner to cook. Maybe add a spritz of lemon, too, if you want to make it more exciting. Speaking of lemons...

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Orange peel and lemon rind

I use a ton of citrus zest in my cooking—the simplest dishes can be brightened so easily with a bit. Every time I use a piece of citrus, whether for cooking or snacking, I zest before using, then store that zest in the freezer in an airtight baggie. This way, next time I have a recipe that needs zest, I already have it on hand.

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Broccoli and cauliflower stems

All you need to do to eat these is slough off the tough outsides with a vegetable peeler—don’t add to your stock bag, though, because boiling cruciferous vegetables makes them smell like farts. Instead chop up the stems and use them alongside the florets in whatever you’re cooking. They are freaking amazing when roasted, too, or you can shred and add to salads.

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Eggshells

Some people dry these out in the oven, grind them into a powder, then add to smoothies and stuff since they’re super rich in calcium. I haven’t done this, though—I take vitamins and consume a pretty decent amount of dairy. Some other people crush these up in water and use it for their plants, but I have cats who enjoy eating houseplants so they can throw them up all over my floor. You’ll have to do your own experiments.

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Corn cobs

You can use them to make corn cob jelly. I’ve never actually tasted this before, so if you have, tell me all about it!

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Kiwi skins

I legitimately have no idea what to do with these. If you’ve got ideas, leave them in the comments. Warning: I don’t eat enough kiwis to follow through.

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About the author

Allison Robicelli

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, host of The Robicelli Argument Clinic Podcast, the author of three books, and a swan meat influencer.