24 Ways to Turn Yesterday’s Food Scraps Into Tomorrow’s Dinner Slideshow

Save money and act sustainably with these uses for table scraps

24 Ways to Turn Yesterday’s Food Scraps Into Tomorrow’s Dinner

Americans waste more than 20 pounds of food per person every month; if that doesn’t make you want to do your part to reduce the table scraps we send to the landfills, consider the amount of money you are literally throwing away every day. With some trimmings, rinds, peels, and stems, you can use yesterday’s scraps to enhance your next meal. 

Whether you are looking to make your home a more sustainable one or cut back on your grocery bill, your daily meals will get a refreshing boost from yesterday’s table scraps.


Almond Pulp

Almond Pulp


If you love the taste of fresh almond milk, but hate the waste, next time you make your homemade milk, save the pulp. Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the pulp as you can, then spread the pulp on a sheet pan to finish drying out. Then process the pulp to a fine flour in your food processor, and you can add it to any recipe calling for almond flour, like this one for a Gluten-Free Olive-Rosemary Bread.


Apple Peel

You can use your leftover apple teas to make a slightly sweet apple tea, that you can sweeten with sugar or honey from drinking or brining chicken. Also, consider using apple peels to infuse vinegar.

Beet Tops

Want a healthy dark green side dish for tomorrow’s dinner? Swap out the Swiss chard in any recipe with nutritious iron-rich beet greens. Try turning your beet greens into a salad, like this recipe for Roasted Organic Beet Salad with Oranges and Beet Greens, or serve Sautéed Beet Greens with Cumin, Lemon Zest, and Crispy Fried Garlic with dinner.

Broccoli Stems

Broccoli stems are tossed because they are so tough. But if you peel off the outside layer of the stem, you can slice and enjoy that same great broccoli flavor that you find in the florets. Try using your broccoli stems in this Beef and Broccoli Ramen recipe or shred the stems to use in this Broccoli Spinach Soup.

Carrot Peel

While it should be noted that you don’t have to peel carrots — just give them a good scrub to remove any dirt before adding them to your dish — peels are perfect for making stock. Save your peels in a freezer safe bag, and pull them out whenever you need to make another batch of chicken stock or vegetable stock.


Make a carrot top pesto with your leftover tops. The tender greens blended with garlic, pine nuts, and Parmigiano-Reggiano makes an excellent dip for crudité or tossed with pasta. Check out this recipe — just swap the broccoli rabe in this pesto for carrot tops. Store the extra in a sealed jar to use all week.

Celery Leaves

These tender leaves have the same mildly acidic taste as the crunchy stalks. Save the leaves to add flavor to salad greens or sprinkle on top of braised fennel for a side you can serve with grilled chicken or broiled fish.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are a natural deodorizer to remove smells from cutting boards and your fridge, but you can also eat those leftover coffee grounds, making sure none of the healthy antioxidants go to waste. Coffee grounds have a strong flavor, which is why they make an excellent ingredient in rubs for steaks, pork roasts, and chicken. Just add brown sugar, chili powder, and salt to make one tasty steak, like this recipe for Cedar Grilled Flat Iron Steaks with Coffee Rub.

Cucumber Peels

While you can toss most vegetable peels into a pot and make a delicious stock, cucumber peels aren’t ideal for that use. Instead, use your leftover peels to make metabolism-boosting, refreshing cucumber water or chop them finely and add to salad — same great cucumber taste without the waste.

Fruit Pulp

If you love juicing, you will love this way to enjoy the nutritious pulp. You can turn the leftover pulp into a healthy smoothie. Save your leftover juice pulp in a freezer-safe container, and when you are ready for your smoothie, just add the frozen pulp to the blender along with any protein powders, nut butters, or sweeteners you like.

Garlic Skins

The garlic skins are packed with flavor, too. Keep the skins for your next batch of stock to add tons of garlic flavor, without wasting one precious clove.

Kale Stalks

Kale Stalks


Most of the time, a recipe will tell you to strip the kale leaves from the tough kale stalks, but before you toss them in the trash, save your nutritious stalks for a second-day treat. Because the stalks tend to be woody, steam them for 10 minutes. Then, sauté them with chile oil and garlic, and serve. 

Onion Skins

You can use your onion skins in your next batch of stalk, like the garlic skins or you can use red onion skins as a natural food-safe food coloring. They will make your Easter eggs a deep red, or use them in your braising liquid for pot-roast dinner.


Orange Peel

Orange peels are full of fragrant oils, so they are a perfect way to infuse bright citrus flavors into foods. When cooked until tender, as in this recipe for Lamb Tagine with Oranges, Saffron, and Candied Orange Peel, you can eat the garnish. If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, try this simple recipe for Candied Orange Peel.

Parmigiano-Reggiano Rind

Parmigiano-Reggiano Rind


No one eats the tough rind from Parmigiano-Reggiano, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cook with it. Use the rind to flavor soups, like in this recipe for Hearty Minestrone With Parmesan Rind, or try this recipe for Parmesan Cheesecake with Dates and Almonds that uses the rind to flavor the cream.

Parsley Stems

Parsley stems are tough, unlike cilantro stems that can be chopped alongside the leaves, but instead of tossing the stems use them for a bouquet garni (a mix of herbs, spices, garlic, etc, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with butcher’s twine). Just drop the bouquet garni into the pot along with your braising liquid, stock, stew, and more to add flavor to your sauces.


Peach Pits

Before you toss these pits into your compost pile, try making peach pit jelly. Using the peels and pits of about 75 (25 pounds…yes that’s a lot) peaches, you can make a bright peachy colored jelly for toast and glazes. You will need the pits and peels, four cups of water, one box of pectin, four cups of sugar, and a quarter cup of lemon juice. Then, just follow these simple instructions for how to make jelly.


Pineapple Tops

You can actually use the pineapple top to grow a pineapple, and what’s more sustainable than that? Next time you make a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, save the tops for a beautiful houseplant.


Potato Peels

Potato peels might look like a pile of compost, but they are just one oven visit away from being a delicious snack. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F, drizzle with olive oil and seasonings, spread onto a silpat, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes. If that doesn’t give you reason to save them from the garbage, try this Potato Peel Gratin recipe instead.

Radish Tops

Once again, the tops of the root vegetables are proving to be as good for us as any leafy green — and tasty, too. Save your radish tops and make this Radish Top Soup and Slow-Roasted Radishes recipe.

Romaine Lettuce Hearts

Don’t throw just throw away the heart (pun intended) of the lettuce. Instead, use it to grow more. Like pineapple tops, romaine lettuce hearts can be planted just like a seed.


Sandwich Crusts

If your kids don’t like their peanut butter and jelly with crusts, then process them in a food processor and store the breadcrumbs in a jar. Next time your dish calls for a Lemon-Parmesan Breadcrumb or Anchovy Breadcrumb topping, you will be all set.


Tomato Scraps

Turn your leftover tomato pulp, skins, and ends into tomato sauce. You will never have to settle for the canned variety again when you set out to make Italian specialties like this recipe for Baked Eggplant Parmesan or Mussels Marinara.


Vegetable Pulp

Vegetable Pulp

iStock / Thinkstock

When you are done juicing your beets, carrots, and kale for all they are worth, save the pulp. As it turns out the pulp is nutritious, too. Save your leftover vegetable pulp in a freezer bag, and add it to stalks and stocks