8 Tricks for Using Kitchen Scraps

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It isn’t rare to hear comments about the costs associated with eating healthy. But utilizing food scraps (like stale bread and carrot stems), which are inevitable in most kitchens, is one easy way to save money. Here are eight tips.

1. Vegetable Stock: A simple use for leftover veggie scraps–like herb stems or onion and carrot ends–is a simple stock. Collect mild yet aromatic vegetable scraps (think carrots, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, kale) and herb scraps (skip the cilantro) and add them to a large pot. Fill with water and simmer for several hours. Strain and store in the freezer.

2. Saved Stalks: Broccoli stalks add to the price per pound, so don’t throw half your money in the trash. Utilize the stalks for slaws, vegetable stocks and soups. They taste great and are packed with nutrients!

3. Glorious Greens: We often buy root vegetables like beets and then the first thing we do is remove their beautiful green tops. Dark, leafy greens are practically a multivitamin, so it’s a shame to toss them away. Saute them as you would kale or spinach. If they are bitter, add a little something sweet, like honey or dried cherries, to balance the flavor.

4. Terrific Tops: Feather-like carrot tops are packed with nutrition and flavor. Try subbing carrot tops for parsley in simple sauces. Chopped carrots tops are also great as a garnish to a soup and, roughly chopped, they taste wonderful in a salad.

5. Perfect Pesto: Tired of tossing the ends and stems of the kale or spinach you are cooking up? Give them a quick blanch and shock and toss them into your traditional pesto blend for a vegetable-fortified sauce.

6. Meatloaf Mix: Save the ends of carrots, peppers and onions and puree in a food processor with an egg. This flavorful and nutrient-dense mixture is the perfect addition to meatloaf or meatballs. Use leftover grains like quinoa or rice instead of breadcrumbs to help bind the mixture.

7. Extra Herbs: Toss leftover herbs and stems into your blender with some extra-virgin olive oil and give it a whirl. This simple and flavorful herb oil will add a little extra yum to your next salad dressing, marinade or main dish. Freeze the oil in ice cube trays for easy use.

8. Extra Leaves: Tired of tossing those artichoke leaves to get to the heart? Save them and give them a quick blanch and shock. Toss with oil, salt and pepper and roast them up for a tasty artichoke “chip.”