Food Scraps You Have to Stop Throwing Away

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Stop wasting food and give it new life with these creative ideas
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Many meats release fat when they’re cooked. That fat is solid at room temperature and will return to its solid state post-cooking. Save bacon, chicken, or duck fat, for example, in a clean glass jar and use it instead of butter when you’re cooking.

Rendered Fat

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Many meats release fat when they’re cooked. That fat is solid at room temperature and will return to its solid state post-cooking. Save bacon, chicken, or duck fat, for example, in a clean glass jar and use it instead of butter when you’re cooking.

Animal Bones

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If you’ve purchased a whole chicken or a bone-in roast, make the most of it. After you’ve cooked the meat, place the cleaned bones into a pot with water, vegetables, and seasonings to make a flavorful stock. 

Wilted Greens

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Wilted greens may not be good for salads, but they work great in rice or egg dishes. If you’ve got limp salad greens on hand, resist the urge to throw them out and add them to a creamy risotto or make a frittata instead.

Herb Stems

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Many recipes call for fresh chopped herb leaves. Scraps of herbs (like parsley or cilantro) that don’t have woody stems can be added to soups, stocks, or braises for extra flavor. Simply tie the stems together with a clean piece of kitchen string, add them to simmering liquids, and remove them before serving the dish.

Parmigiano Cheese Rind

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Even if you can’t grate any more cheese from the rind, you’ve still got a lot of flavor at your disposal. Toss the rinds of hard cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano into sauces and soups; just be sure to remove the rind before serving.

Root Ends of Onions

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Slicing an onion? Save the intact root end and place it in a shallow dish of water until is starts sprouting again. Then, use it to re-grow onions in a small pot on your windowsill. Scallions are particularly easy to grow indoors.

Stale Bread

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Don’t buy breadcrumbs or croutons; you can easily make both at home using the heels of a loaf of bread or slices of hard, stale bread. Toast cubes of bread in the oven until crisp (add a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and spices if you’re making croutons). If you’re making breadcrumbs, simply pulse the plain toasted bread cubes in a food processor until finely ground.

Cereal Crumbs

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Another easy replacement for breadcrumbs (especially the panko variety), the crumbs of non-sugary cereal left in the bag make a great crust for fried chicken, fish, or other meats.