Five Ways to Make Use of Your Food Waste
Recent studies reveal that Americans throw away about 40% of their food. Consider how much you could save by cutting your food budget by almost half, or how much further your food stores would stretch if you could put to good use everything you buy. The little effort it takes to use food that would formerly have gone in the garbage can be well worth it. Here are five ideas for ways to use food waste:
1. Make Soups
If you have leftover vegetables, bones or meat scraps you’re set to make excellent stocks, broths, stews, broths and casseroles. You can collect vegetable scraps and meat bones in the freezer until you have enough to fill a large soup pot. Thaw veggies and boil with salt and pepper for about an hour. Strain the vegetable scraps out and keep the vegetable stock in the freezer for up to two months.
Make meat stock by roasting bones and scraps in the oven with salt and pepper at 400 degrees until the bones begin to brown. Drain off the fat then put the rest in a pot, cover with water and simmer for three hours. Strain the liquid off, let it cool, scrape off the cap of fat and keep the stock in the freezer for up to two months.
2. Make stuffing, breading and casseroles
Save stale bread in the freezer and combine with vegetable and meat scraps to make stuffing. Put stale bread in a blender or food processor and chop until you have fine breadcrumbs that can be used for breading vegetables and meat. Almost any combination of leftover bread, vegetables and meat can come together in a classic casserole or potpie recipe.
3. Teas and Baths
Citrus fruits peels contain essential oils that taste great in tea and can be medicinal in baths. Dry these peels in the air or in the sun and add to a cup of warm water for tea or to a hot bath. The oils from citrus fruits and even cucumber can relieve itching or irritated skin and serve as a mild antiseptic.
4. Feed your urban chickens
Chickens love scraps and will eat almost anything, depending on their personal preferences. Generally, as long as it’s good for you, it’s good for your chickens. Just don’t feed them potato peels, citrus fruit, avocado, chocolate, sugar, anything spoiled or anything too salty. If you don’t have urban chickens but a nearby neighbor does, you may be able to trade fresh scraps for fresh eggs.
Composting is a great way to replenish tired soil or “subdivision soil” that has been scraped for building. Generally, you can compost anything that was once alive but didn’t have a face. Vegetable peels and scraps, nutshells (except walnuts) and coffee grounds are excellent compost material but steer clear of composting meat or dairy products. Also, some plant food scraps will regrow easily in your garden. Try planting stems or bulbs from fennel, scallions, leeks, garlic, cabbage, bok choy, celery, or romaine lettuce. If you live in a more tropical climate, try planning pieces of sweet potatoes, pineapple, ginger and lemongrass.
With just a little creativity you may be able to cut down on the amount of food you need to buy. And in an emergency, you’ll be glad you practiced your food stretching skills.