You're Wasting More Food Than You Think

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You might think of them as only kitchen scraps, but many common foods we throw away are healthy eats in the making. Reduce waste and give these ingredients a reboot in your kitchen.

Stale Bread

Revitalize day-old bread and turn it into croutons, French toast or bread pudding. Dried-out bread is actually a superior choice for these recipes since as it will absorb the other ingredients better than fresh bread can.

Recipe: French Toast

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Extra-Ripe Fruits and Vegetables

Bananas for banana bread is the most obvious choice, but you can also get more mileage out of other fruits and veggies before they go bad. Tomatoes can be frozen whole — just run them under warm water to defrost and peel. Bell peppers can be roasted and peeled, then refrigerated for up to one week. Chop fresh herbs, then freeze or puree them into a pesto or chimichurri sauce — combining herbs with oil and acid (like citrus juice or vinegar) increases the shelf life. Think beyond applesauce and make fruit sauces out of pears or berries. Squeeze the juice from lemons, limes and other citrus; freeze it in ice cube trays for smoothies and cocktails.

Recipe: Beef Skewers with Cilantro Chimichurri

Cheese Rind

There’s ample flavor left in a piece of cheese rind. Cut it into pieces and store in the freezer. Add chunks into simmering pots of soup, stew or marinara sauce to infuse with a savory flavor.

Recipe: Tortelloni in Mushroom-Parmesan Broth

Vegetable Scraps

As you’re chopping up celery, onions and carrots for other recipes, place the scraps into a resealable bag. Keep them in the freezer for later use in soups and stocks.

Recipe: Vegetable Stock

Chicken Carcass

Combine those reserved veggie scraps with the remains of last night’s roasted chicken and get a bonus batch of chicken stock. Add the ingredients to a large pot, cover with water, then season with kosher salt, peppercorns and herbs; bring to a boil and simmer for two to three hours, then strain.

Recipe: Chicken Stock

Whole Milk and Cheese

You have a houseful of low-fat milk drinkers, but you bought a bunch of high-fat dairy for a specific recipe. What do you do with the leftovers? Look no further than homemade ricotta cheese.

Recipe: DIY Ricotta Cheese

Jug of fresh milk

Buttermilk

You made pancakes, now what? Instead of tossing that last bit of buttermilk, make ranch dressing or a tangy sherbet.

Recipe: Iceberg Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Yogurt

Instead of letting that yogurt go to waste, cut the fat in your favorite baked goods. As a general rule, swap 1 cup of butter with 1/4 cup Greek yogurt combined with 1/2 cup butter to boost the protein and cut back significantly on the fat.

Recipe: Healthy Lemony Yogurt Loaf Cake

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.