Want to stretch your family dollar and eat great meals, all while doing your part to reduce food waste? Using up every last bit of the ingredients in your fridge and pantry is a praiseworthy goal—and it may be easier than you think. We've collected our favorite recipes to help save food scraps from the garbage bin while feeding your family well. You'll find creative ideas for vegetable trimmings, stale bread ends, mushy berries, citrus peels, cheese rinds, bacon grease, and so much more.
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Homemade Veggie Chips
Homemade vegetable chips are crunchy, craveable, and easier to make than you might think. They are much better for you than the packaged kind from the store, which often contain additives. Make them out of odds and ends of root vegetables chopped up for other recipes, such as the tough outer leaves of Brussels sprouts, sweet potato ends, beet trimmings, and carrot scraps.
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Air Fryer Falafel
Save up the snipped stems of parsley and cilantro to use in this falafel batter. The stems work just as well as the leaves for this recipe since they are minced up small and added for a bright, herbal flavor. Making them in the air fryer (instead of deep-frying) also means they're lower in fat, calories, and mess.
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Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower "rice" is a great side dish for anyone looking to curb their carb intake. Raw cauliflower stems, which are often discarded, are perfectly fine to use along with florets to create this delicious, carbohydrate-free rice alternative that would make a great cookout side dish for Mexican beans, or a tasty stuffing for burritos.
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Don't toss out corn cobs after cutting off the kernels. Instead, use the bare cobs to make sweet and delicious corn stock. It's as easy to do as popping the cobs into a pot of boiling water with a few other basic ingredients, leaving to simmer. You'll get a rich vegetable broth you can use in chowders and soups, or as a cooking liquid for rice and other grains.Continue to 5 of 30 below.
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Squash Pickles With Zucchini or Yellow Summer Squash
When you don't know what to do with a garden bursting with zucchini or have zucchini going mushy in your fridge, turn them into delicious pickles. Sweet and easy refrigerator zucchini pickles are great for topping burgers at your summer barbecues and make a tangy nibble all on their own.
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Easy Breakfast Migas
Use up a few tortillas left at the end of a bag for this delicious Mexican breakfast egg skillet. You only need one pan, leftover tortillas, a few eggs, and some delicious fresh veggies, for a low-effort meal with minimal clean-up. It's a great way to bulk up eggs, and turn them into a hearty morning meal, or breakfast for dinner idea.
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Vegan Banana Muffins
Got overripe bananas going black on your kitchen counter? Use them to make the most scrumptious vegan banana muffins. Our foolproof, one-bowl recipe is easy enough for kitchen newbies to pull off. Feel free to tweak the muffins to taste with vegan chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or dried fruits.
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Candied Citrus Peel
Sweet and bright candied orange and lemon peels are wonderfully easy to make and perfect for holiday giving. They are also super-good for you, as citrus fruits peels contain even more vitamin C than the actual fruit. Dip them in dark chocolate for an elegant treat, or chop them up for adding to cookies, cakes, muffins, quick breads, and other baked goods.Continue to 9 of 30 below.
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No-Egg Meringue Candy Kisses
Are you missing meringues on a vegan or egg-free diet? You may be surprised, and delighted, to learn that the liquid at the bottom of a can of chickpeas—aka "aquafaba"—can be swapped for egg whites in any baking recipe. Use it for these magical meringues with chocolate and lime flavors, by replacing each egg white called for with 2 tablespoons of chickpea liquid.
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Broccoli Slaw With Raisins
Transform tough, leftover broccoli stalks into a picnic-ready broccoli slaw. Simply grate the peeled stalks on the medium holes of a box grater, and toss the shreds with our light, sweet, and tangy mayonnaise dressing. Enjoy the delicious slaw at any time of year, adding chewy raisins, sunflower seeds, red onions, or even bacon bits, to suit your fancy.
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Use up a day-old bakery loaf, or the ends of a baguette, in this summery Italian salad that originated in Tuscany to use up bread going stale. Classic panzanella salad combines toasted bread cubes with ripe tomatoes, crunchy bell peppers, refreshing cucumber, tangy red onion, and herbaceous fresh basil in a light and garlicky vinaigrette.
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Instant Pot Bone Broth
Collect beef bones from rib roasts, bone-in steaks, and short ribs, storing them in the freezer, for making nutrient-rich bone broth. This highly nutritious stock makes a great base for soups, sauces, and gravies, or a nourishing health drink on its own. The Instant Pot dramatically shortens the cooking time, allowing you to make it in the afternoon.Continue to 13 of 30 below.
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Vegan Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
When you've got mushy raspberries on your hands, use them to make this gourmet-style, vegan raspberry salad dressing. Vibrant and slightly sweet, this vinaigrette is the perfect complement to fresh spinach leaves, arugula, and other hardy salad greens. It's also a great way to dress up a fruit salad for the brunch table.
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Southern Cream Gravy
Wondering what to do with bacon grease, or the drippings from cooking sausage? Work it into a Southern cream gravy for slathering over biscuits at breakfast or serving with fried chicken. You just need to add milk and cream, a little flour, and salt and pepper to taste, for a down-home gravy that cooks in 10 minutes.
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Easy Vegan Ratatouille
Gather up those vegetable bits and bobs from your crisper, and whip up a guilt-free ratatouille that would be right at home in a French kitchen. Spread it atop toasted country bread for lunch, or serve it over fluffy quinoa grains for a healthy and delicious vegan and vegetarian dinner.
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Ham and Swiss Cheese Quiche
A ham and cheese quiche is always a welcome addition to brunch and picnic menus, making a nice, light dinner for two. Try adding leftover leek tops (the green parts of leeks, which are usually tossed) to this classic French quiche baked in a prepared or homemade pastry crust. The leek ends will bring a mild, oniony flavor that beautifully complements the eggy, cheesy custard.Continue to 17 of 30 below.
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Raw Beet Green Salad
Think twice before throwing out the leafy stems growing from fresh beets. You may not know it, but beet greens are quite delicious on their own. In this dish, beet greens and fresh herbs come together with a raw vegan vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar and mustard sweetened with agave nectar.
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Watermelon Rind Pickles
If you're in the habit of throwing away watermelon rinds, we'd like to inspire you to do something different. This old-fashioned, Southern recipe takes what is usually discarded when eating the summer fruit and turns it into a sweet treat. The pickles are a snap to prepare on the stove-top, for a fun and great-tasting addition to summer salads, sandwiches, and wraps.
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White Chocolate Bread Pudding
Do your kids insist on having the crusts cut off their sandwiches? Instead of discarding them, stash those crusts in the freezer for using in this outrageous dessert. With a creamy, eggy, white chocolate custard, and a decadent topping of white chocolate sauce, it is a fabulous way to make dessert with ingredients you likely have on hand.
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Breadcrumbs are a great ingredient to have on hand in the kitchen, and an excellent way to use up stale bread. You need just 20 minutes, plus a little olive oil, kosher salt, a food processor, and your oven, to transform dry bread slices into versatile breadcrumbs. Store them in the freezer, for thawing and using to top macaroni and cheese casseroles, creamy pasta dishes, scalloped potatoes, and vegetable gratins.Continue to 21 of 30 below.
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When you have wilting fresh herbs in the crisper, that's the time to whip up this classic South American chimichurri sauce. Traditionally served with grilled steak, the zesty, herbaceous sauce is a tasty use for both the leaves and stems of herbs. It makes a lively dressing or marinade for barbecued beef, grilled chicken legs, fish, and sausage dogs.
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Hearty Sausage and Tortellini Soup
When you get to the end of a hunk of Parmesan cheese, don't throw away the rind. Instead, throw the tough end into this hearty, Italian-style sausage and tortellini soup. The cheese rind will add an incredible dose of umami flavor to the broth, and any cheese scrapings you can salvage from the rind, before tossing it into the pot, can be used to garnish soup bowls.
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Easy Red Wine Marinade for Steaks
Do you feel guilty when you pour opened red wine past its prime down the drain? Skip the drama and use that leftover red wine to step up your steak game. The classic French bordelaise sauce is a simple mixture of red wine, shallots, thyme, stock, salt, and pepper. It's rich and flavorful, so it takes just a small drizzle of Bordelaise sauce to perk up a simple grilled steak or slow-roasted beef.
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Apple Scrap Jelly
The next time you make apple pie or applesauce, save the cores and peels for turning into delicious apple jelly. All you need are 4 ingredients, and some canning jars, to make this yummy, stove-top apple jelly that will fill your house with a wonderful cooking aroma. Spread it on toast, smear it on a peanut butter sandwich, or add it to a party cheese plate.Continue to 25 of 30 below.
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Grilled Herb and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Save parsley stems to use in these fully loaded stuffed mushrooms. Along with pimento cheese (sub in whatever cheese you have on hand) and breadcrumbs, you can fill your mushrooms up using even more veggies or pantry items you want. Go vegan by using olive oil or margarine instead of butter, and use a vegetarian cheese or sprinkle it with nutritional yeast flakes.
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Instant Pot Chicken Stock
Use a store-bought rotisserie chicken carcass (or a bag of saved chicken bones from the freezer) for this flavorful chicken stock. It tastes miles better than bouillon, is loaded with good-for-you nutrients, and can be used to add a great depth of flavor to all kinds of soups, stews, and braises. Even better, just set it and forget it with the instant pot.
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Southern Turnip Greens With Ham Shanks
The tops of turnips often wind up in the trash, but they are far too tasty to deserve that fate. Try cooking them the old-fashioned Southern way, boiled in chicken stock with smoked ham shanks, garlic, and a little sugar, until they are silky and tender. Enjoy them as a hearty side dish, with fluffy cornbread or biscuits.
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Shake and Serve Red Wine Vinaigrette
You may not know that you can make your own red wine vinegar using the dregs of red wine bottles. Combine three parts leftover red wine to one part white vinegar in a mason jar, and let it age on the counter for 3-4 weeks. Then use it in this easy, shake-and-serve red wine vinaigrette that makes a lovely dressing for salad greens.Continue to 29 of 30 below.
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Save up your vegetable peels, cut ends, and trimmings in an airtight bag or container in the freezer. When the pile grows big enough, turn them into an easy homemade vegetable broth. It's a great base stock to have on hand for making vegan and vegetarian soups, chowders, and gravies, or a flavorful cooking liquid for grains.
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Baked Stuffed Fish Fillet
A combination of fresh breadcrumbs, sage, chopped celery, and light fish like flounder or tilapia, make this the ideal recipe to use what you have. Get creative with what's on hand, by grating up idling produce in your crisper bin or even mashing up a can of beans to go in place of the fish. The fish is uniquely baked in muffin cups with the stuffing in the center to make this oh-so-easy.