10 Ways to Use Leftover Ingredients You’d Normally Toss
Cool ideas for using the bits and pieces you don’t know what to do with.
October 28, 2015
1 of 10Photo: Johnny Autry
1. Broccoli Stalks
When it comes to reducing food waste, every bit counts. Here, we’ll show you how to eke out everything you can from some of the most wasted ingredients. Not only will this go toward helping the environment, but it will also save you money.
First up: Go for whole broccoli heads (less expense, more delicious) over prepackaged florets. Shred or shave the stalks for slaws, salads, and stir-fries.
2 of 10Photo: Jennifer Causey
2. Cilantro and Parsley Stems
The stems of these soft herbs are completely delicious and pack a slightly more pronounced flavor punch than the leaves. They’re best pureed for pestos, sauces, soups, or juices.
3 of 10Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
3. Wilted Salad Greens
When your greens are just a little too limp for your liking, turn them into pesto, wilt them into a soup, or gently sauté with olive oil and garlic. This works best with spinach, romaine, escarole, and arugula.
4 of 10Photo: John Autry
4. Canned Coconut Milk
Did you use a cup or so of coconut milk for a recipe and find yourself with a small amount left over? Add it to the cooking liquid for rice, stir it into cooked oatmeal or other porridge, use it in a milkshake, or mix with powdered sugar to make a cookie or cake glaze.
5 of 10Photo: Johnny Autry
5. Parmesan Cheese Rind
Simmering the rind of Parmesan (or Asiago, aged Gruyère, or pecorino Romano) releases tons of flavor into soups, dried beans, chili, and stock. Freeze rinds in a zip-top freezer bag until you’re ready to use them.
6 of 10Photo: Jennifer Causey
6. Juice from Canned Tomatoes
If your recipe calls for drained tomatoes, keep the flavorful tomato juice for use as cooking liquid for risotto or quinoa, or add it to a pan sauce for pork or chicken.
7 of 10Photo: Oxmoor House
7. Stale Bread
Baguette, country loaf, sandwich loaf—whatever your bread of choice—turn it into breadcrumbs or croutons. Pulse in a food processor for crumbs; cube and toast in the oven for croutons. Freeze in a zip-top freezer bag, and save it for salads, pasta, casseroles, or soups. Or, use as a binder for meat loaf and meatballs.
8 of 10Photo: Iain Bagwell
8. Radish and Beet Leaves
It would be a shame to use only the roots when the leaves are so delicious, and in both cases, contain a milder version of the root’s flavor. Try them in soups and sautés, or “massage” (as you might kale) for raw salads.
9 of 10Photo: Jennifer Causey
9. Pickle Juice
Use the flavorful brine in a bloody mary, as a marinade for chicken or beef, or for pickling. Just add julienned carrots, sliced cucumbers, or blanched cauliflower to the jar.
10 of 10Photo: Randy Mayor
10. Coffee Grounds
These aren’t edible uses, but they do give your grounds a second life. Use the high-acid “mulch” as a fertilizer for your plants, especially azaleas, hydrangeas, and roses. Some gardeners also swear by mixing coffee grounds with carrot and/or radish seeds before planting to increase the yield. You can also get rid of stubborn odors by placing grounds in an open container or old sock and stashing in your fridge or car.