Too Many Leftovers? Here Are 5 Tips for Repurposing Your Scraps

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Reduce, reuse, recycle. Many of us have heard these words our entire lives—from teachers, family members, public officials, and so on. Yet, finding the time to actually take action can be a struggle. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted across the globe annually. That’s pretty disheartening to hear, right?

In the U.S., the stats aren’t much better. A 2018 study funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) discovered that one pound of food per person is wasted each day. That’s around 81.4 billion pounds of food waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste accounts for 24.1 percent of all municipal solid waste in U.S. landfills.

But, here’s the thing: Food waste is recyclable, even when composting is out of the question. Here are five ways to repurpose your scraps and recycle leftover food.

1. Reach out to a local farmer.

Partnering with a local farmer (or farmer’s market) is a pretty good excuse to get out of the city and wander out to the countryside. Just look at what Easton Farmers’ Market is doing in Pennsylvania. In 2018, the market launched a food scrap collection and composting program in hopes of encouraging local residents to give back to their local farms. According to the Easton Compost Program website, the program has diverted 123,000+ pounds of food waste to date.

2. Save your scraps for a rainy day.

Soup is great on a rainy day. So why not repurpose your scraps to make a flavorful veggie stock?

“One great tip is to save all of your vegetable scraps when making dinner and turn them into a wonderful veggie stock,” says Executive Chef Kevin Templeton, of San Diego’s barleymash. “Onion ends, carrot butts, and celery ends and leaves make for a great stock. Just add enough water to completely cover all of the veggie scraps and then bring to a simmer. Simmer the stock for about 45 minutes, strain, and then you have a flavorful base that’s perfect for any soup.”

3. Transform your leftovers into something new.

Hunger has the potential to make us humans do just about anything. (I mean, Snickers made an entire string of commercials off of the word “hangry.”) But, just because your eyes were a bit bigger than your stomach doesn’t mean you should throw everything out. Use it to make something new!

“As a nurse who also specializes in nutrition, I would recommend using everyday leftovers to create a whole new recipe,” says Tiffany Joy Yamut, RN, and co-founder of Ketogenic Buddies. “For example, leftover ham and veggies can be used as ingredients to create a filling, nutritious breakfast egg omelet. I also use leftover cauliflower to make keto-friendly corned beef and cauliflower hash.”

4. Bring your scraps to work (but ask first).

If you don’t have a way to compost at home, ask your co-workers if they’d like to use your scraps for theirs. You could even suggest setting up a compost bucket in the office breakroom or common kitchen area. Or, if you work in a restaurant, you may be able to contribute to their organic waste recycling. Just be sure to ask first!

5. Be mindful while shopping.

Buying sustainably is a great way to reduce waste. Take RylieCakes GF Baking Mixes, for example.

“The main focus of my company is to show people how they can buy more sustainably and waste less,” says Tara Rylie, the founder of RylieCakes GF Baking Mixes, and author of Lick The Bowl: RylieCakes Essential Guide to Gluten-Free Baking. “All of our baking mixes are packaged in biodegradable pouches and we ship plastic free.”

Feature image: Unsplash 

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