October 2022

14 Creative Uses for Food Scraps

When you think about the material clogging landfills, spoiled produce might not be what comes to mind. But in fact, more than 20 tons of wasted food winds up in the trash each year.

Fortunately, you can make a difference. How? By using more of your food scraps. While some types of waste—for instance, spoiled meat—should go (double-bagged) in the trash, using other leftovers helps the earth and saves you cash.

To make each meal go farther:

  1. Simmer veggie scraps into a homemade stock or broth. Good options include carrot peels, potato skins, and celery tops.

  2. Mash mushy fruit or the seemingly inedible parts—including apple cores, apricot peels, and strawberry tops—into jam. Look up exact recipes and directions online.

  3. Play TV chef by challenging your family to a cook-off, making creative dishes with leftovers.

  4. Fry up potato peels into chips.

  5. Blend slightly bruised or past-ripe fruit into smoothies.

  6. Cut stale bread into croutons, which you can freeze for later if needed.

  7. Sprout new plants from seeds or scraps. Place herbs, celery bases, or green onion bulbs in water; plant tomato seeds or potatoes with buds in soil.

To repurpose food scraps outside the kitchen:

  1. Pile cucumber peels to deter ants from entering your home.

  2. Dye fabricswith brightly hued veggies—red and purple from beet ends, orange from yellow onions, green from spinach, or blue from red cabbage.

  3. Brew “compost tea” by soaking banana peels in water for a few days. Use the potassium- and phosphorous-rich results to water your houseplants and garden.

  4. Boil fruit scraps in water to make a naturally sweet air freshener.

  5. Dry citrus peels and add to homemade vinegar cleaning solutions. The oils dissolve grease and fight bacteria.

  6. Exfoliate your face or body with used, fine coffee grounds.

  7. Cat-proof your flower beds with coffee grounds or citrus peels. They dislike the smell.

Consider compost

If you can’t use scraps, keep them out of the landfill by composting. Start your own pile in your backyard, set up an indoor compost bin, or check if any local farms or farmers market vendors will accept food waste.



Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2022
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.