Feed it to the worms. If you have a yard and you garden, a worm bin is a cheap and easy way to make your own high quality soil out of food scraps. Here are some nice detailed instructions on how to make a worm bin from somebody at WSU. If you do not have a yard and do not garden, see if your local sanitation department offers yard waste pick-up. You do not have to have a yard to request a bin; you can use it solely to dispose of food scraps. Your city will then use the scraps to make compost for parks and public spaces.
Make a broth. Meat and vegetable scraps can be used to make your own delicious broth. Store-bought broths are often extremely high in sodium, making your own allows you to add a more sane amount of salt. I keep a large zippered bag in my freezer, and throw my flavorful scraps in there throughout the month. When the bag is full, it’s time to make broth. The guidelines for this are extremely loose, just simmer it all in water with some salt in a big pot until it has a flavor you like. Strain out the solid bits and you’ve got broth! I keep broth in my freezer in one-cup servings in jars, and then defrost them as needed. When choosing items to include in your broth bag, pick scraps that will give it either a good flavor or a nice color. Some of my favorites to include are:
- Onion bits and skins
- Garlic skins
- Carrot nubs
- Beet nubs
- Mushroom stalks
- Carrot greens
- Animal bones or tough scraps
Make magic with broccoli stalks. Often people will only eat the pretty floret portion of the broccoli plant, banishing the homely stalk to the waste bin. I get it; the florets are tender, they look pretty, the stalk seems tough and foreboding. There are a LOT of different things you can do with that stalk. There are a number of different ways you can prepare it, but before you do anything take a vegetable peeler and take off the tough outer layer of the plant. This will make the whole thing much more edible.
Add your broccoli stems to your florets. This seemed like an obvious one but I’ll just throw it out there anyways. If you’re making a stir-fry with broccoli florets, chop up your stems into bite-size pieces and add them in. They will take a couple minutes longer to cook than the florets, so add them to the pan first.
Make a green pizza. On nights where we don’t want to cook sometimes Nick and I will buy frozen pizzas and load them with veggies. Sliced broccoli stems make a nice green pepperoni substitute!
There are many edible portions of plants that are often thrown out, such as chard stems and beet greens. I hope this gives you some good ideas for alternative uses for food scraps. Next time you’re chopping a vegetable and about to toss part of it out, give it a second look and ask yourself- could I eat this?