by Texas Homesteader ~
Have you ever thought about eating your compost to eliminate food waste?
Stay with me now, I’m not suggesting that you rifle through the compost heap and snack on its contents. Come see ways I’ve saved food previously destined for the compost pile.
How To Reduce Food Waste Further
Food waste – we all hate it. We work diligently to make sure none of that food we’ve paid our hard-earned money for is ever wasted.
We all try not to waste food. We’ll make sure leftovers are eaten before they go bad, a nd we meal plan to use the food we’ve purchased.
But are we doing all we can to eliminate wasted food? Maybe… But maybe not!
Today I’m talking about food previously destined for the compost heap – BEFORE it gets there.
Why, you ask? Well I’ll tell ya. Surprisingly enough there are often great honest-to-goodness food uses for those scraps that you may or may not have even thought of.
I’ll share a few of my favorites below.
Saving & Cooking With Broccoli Stems
There’s more to broccoli than just the florets. You can eat the stem too instead of tossing it in the compost.
After the florets are trimmed and steamed for our supper, I often trim the stalk too. I’ll trim the tough outer skin and chop much of the stem (except for the most fibrous tougher sections) into smaller pieces.
Then I freeze them for use in my next Chicken Fried Rice stir fry.
The small broccoli stem pieces, having been previously frozen, are softer than fresh & cook up quite nicely in my stir fry.
They add color and nutrition too!
Dehydrating Onion Trimmings
Many people store veggie trimmings in a freezer bag until it’s full enough to make veggie stock.
But I like to dehydrate many of my vegetable trimmings for homemade seasonings.
I’ve found a way to use those previously-wasted parts – the tough neck & stem parts of an onion.
I separate the tough onion parts from the paper skin. Then I chop those onion trimmings deemed too tough to cook with & dehydrate them instead.
After the onion pieces are dry I use my coffee grinder to grind them into onion powder.
I use whatever onions I have – red, yellow or white. But I’ve easily saved those savory onion sections that were previously deemed too tough to eat, destined for the compost. And by doing so I also replaced an item I used to have to buy.
Now that’s a two-fer win, y’all!
Dehydrating Vegetable Scraps For Seasoning
I used to buy jars of spicy jalapeno seasoning. But now I make my own with jalapeno scraps.
I dry and powder seeds & ribs from spicy jalapenos and other savory veggie trimmings too.
They’re dehydrated & ground for seasoning our food. I have a small jar for powdered jalapeno, bell pepper, etc. And I use them often in my cooking to season our food on the cheap.
Preserving Extra Fresh Produce Before It Goes Bad
How about making sure that fresh produce never reaches compost-worthy status in the first place?
For instance, I sometimes buy a single bunch of celery for a specific dish. But although I use celery in other dishes, RancherMan’s not a fan of just noshing on fresh celery by itself.
So even though I try to keep it from going to waste, I look at the rest of that celery & wonder if I’ll ever use it all.
(spoiler alert – the answer is always NO!)
So after I use the fresh celery for my recipe I’ll often dehydrate the rest, both stalks and leaves.
The leaves are crushed and added to my crushed celery spice jar. The chopped ribs are dehydrated and placed in a glass jar in the pantry.
It’s easy to add dehydrated celery to a simmering soup. It’ll rehydrate right there in the stockpot!
But once again I’ve easily turned produce I wouldn’t be able to use into a product I used to have to buy. SCORE!
Re-growing Celery & Onions From Scraps
Don’t toss that celery or onion base in the compost!
Those base sections can be placed in water until they grow a few roots and then transplanted. More food growing for FREE!
I’ve used this same trick for green onions too, snipping off the fresh onion regrowth from my kitchen windowsill and adding it to my recipe right then.
Dehydrating Excess Fresh Herbs
Small amounts of fresh herbs can be saved for later too.
Sometimes I harvest a stem of a fresh herb & strip & chop the teaspoon of fresh leaves for my recipe. But what about the fresh herb on the rest of that stem?
I’ll strip, dry and crush the remaining leaves. I add them to the seasoning jar I have in my kitchen spice drawer for each herb. Rosemary, basil, sage, thyme – nothing goes to waste!
NOTE: For those of you wanting to see my setup for drying full bunches of fresh herbs, you can see my Herb-Drying Setup Here.
I love it because it preserves full bunches at a time & it’s in a convenient location for me to use as I’m cooking.
Replanting Sprouted Produce In Your Garden
You bought that head of garlic but things got away from you. The next thing you know it’s gone too far. It’s sprouted.
Wait a minute… sprouted?
Hey, if it wants to live that badly why not PLANT it?
Yep, separating & planting each clove from that head of garlic will result in each clove growing a whole new head of garlic, each containing several cloves.
That gives you much more garlic than you started with!
I’ve done the same thing with a sprouted red potato, cutting it up into chunks (each including at least one eye) and planting them. Each piece grows into more potatoes.
So if you see your produce sprouting, don’t chunk it into the compost. Think about planting the sprouting pieces to grow more fresh edible food for your family.
Finding FREE Bread Crumbs
RancherMan loves me to make his favorite soft-fluffy sandwich bread. And when I cut that bread into slices it sometimes makes a crumb mess on the counter.
But do I sweep those crumbs into the compost bucket? Nope, they’re my own version of homemade breadcrumbs!
I keep a small glass jar in the cabinet to hold them until I need them, whether breading Potato Cakes or pork chops.
If needed I can even season them with those same dried herbs I didn’t toss in the compost earlier. See, it helps to save those small scraps of food!
Fruit Peels/Cores Turned Into Vinegar
Fruit peels & cores can be saved from the compost pile too.
That’s because they can easily be made into homemade vinegar. I’ve made both apple cider vinegar & pineapple vinegar from discarded cores & peels.
It’s a simple process and it’s eliminated food waste. Plus once again I’ve made for myself a product I used to have to buy.
Homemade Broth From Chicken Bones
After that delicious chicken is enjoyed for supper and the carcass is picked clean of cooked meat, set the bones and trimmings aside. They have another very important use!
Place them in a slow cooker and turn that waste into the most delicious, healthy broth you ever tasted.
Using this tip, yet another thing I used to buy that now I’ve provided for myself. I’m seeing a trend here, y’all!
And now that I have an Instant Pot, I can make Instant Pot Broth even faster & with true push-button convenience!
It really doesn’t get any easier than that, folks.
Whichever method you use, making broth is incredibly easy.
So if you decide to try any of these food waste tips, be sure to make your own broth from meat trimmings & bones. In my opinion it gives you the most bang for your buck.
So there ya go. The next time you’re headed for your compost bucket with the last scraps of food, take note. Hummmm… Can we EAT this??
Oftentimes the answer is ‘YES’!
Links In This Post:
- Dehydrating Onions
- Leftover Celery? Dehydrate It!
- Endless Soup For Warm Nutrition
- Preserving Fresh Oregano
- Easily Planting Garlic
- Growing Potatoes In A Raised Bed For Easy Harvest
- FINALLY, A Soft, Fluffy Sandwich Bread Recipe
- Easy Homemade Breadcrumbs
- Leftover Mashed Potatoes Into Potato Cakes
- Solar Cooking: Baking Breaded Pork Chops
- Pineapple-Scrap Vinegar
- 1 Chicken Enjoyed 6 Ways: Eating It ALL!
- Slow-Cooker Homemade Broth
- Instant Pot Homemade Broth
New Meals Remade With Leftovers
- Planned Leftovers: Easy Slow-Cooker Pork Roast
- How To Quickly Shred Leftover Roast
- Hearty Stew – Quickest Planned Leftover Meal Of All
- Pulled Pork Enchiladas From Leftover Roast
- Planned Leftovers: Carnitas Tacos From Pork Roast
- Chicken Fried Rice Supper FAST!
- Leftover Chicken & Zucchini Noodles with Herb Bombs
- Chicken Tortilla Soup From Leftovers
- Homemade Chicken Pot Pie Made Easy
- Chicken & Dumplings Using Leftover Chicken
- Leftover Chicken Into Quick Chicken Fried Rice
- Leftover Turkey & Dressing Into Patties
Other Leftover Posts
- Leftover Biscuit Dough? Make Cinnamon Rolls!
- Using It ALL – The Art Of Eliminating Leftover Food
- Homemade Meals Every Day – The EASY Way!
…and MUCH MORE!
See All Our Recipes
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This is one of the most useful posts I’ve read in a long time! I “reuse” almost all of my vegetable trimmings (I say almost all because cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower don’t work in this application) by saving them in gallon sized ziploc bags in the freezer. Once I have two bags full, I make vegetable stock to use as the base of quick soups and gravies.
I’m a huge fan of homemade broth, Sissy. And I’m with you on the cabbage, broccoli & cauliflower scraps. ~TxH~
Ha! I finally found someone more frugal than myself!
I have saved onion bits for soup base, but, never saved the onion/pepper bits for a spice mix– what a great idea!
You do beat all Mrs.TexasHomesteader!
LOL MeanJean – It all started when I excitedly purchased some jalapeno powder years ago so I could add the spice to my own plate without subjecting others to that kind of heat. Then I wondered (as I often do) “I wonder if I can make that myself??” Several days later as I was de-seeding jalapenos to bring down the heat level for company at a dinner party, the light bulb came on. Yep, I use that jalapeno powder all the time in many different dishes. And I have a spice jar that’s a mixture of many savory dehydrated veggies all powdered together – bell pepper and some of the onion along with various herbs. It’s my all-in-one seasoning & I like to use it with soups & such. Yep, I’ve been eating my compost for years! LOL ~TxH~
A couple of thoughts –
I’ve never had great luck here in Oregon growing garlic heads from those little teensy annoying garlic cloves or the cloves that have sprouted but I do plant them and often just trim some of the sprouts for whatever I’m cooking and they keep on sprouting, I also toss them into the bag in the freezer that is destined to become vegetable broth.
I do put bones in the compost, after boiling the daylights out of them they are very soft and quite free of any meat product so in they go. I never see them in the finished compost. I also sometimes toss them into the fireplace and then they still end up on the veg or flower garden. Crab and shrimp shells (I DO live near the Oregon Coast) go right into the compost. If you’ve ever seen a field that has had shrimp shells (Kind of stinky for awhile) spread on it you are missing something,
I love all your tips Candace, thanks for sharing! And you’re right, those bones are often crumbly after their broth-making cooking so I should totally toss them into the composter too. Especially since I have a tumbler so there’s no opportunity for wildlife to come scratching around for it. ~TxH~
When I first saw the message it said “How to eat your compost” you had me worried. I thought I was going to have to set up a go fund me page, that you guys were starving and resorting to……… 😉 I feel so much better after ready the full article and as usual it’s GREAT! Now I can sit down and enjoy my morning coffee knowing everything is honky dorey.!!!!
LOL Patti! I must admit I was after an eyebrow-raising reaction to the title. But let me assure you (although we’re eating plenty of our pre-compost food these days in the form of onion powder, broth and much more) everything is definitely hunky dorey at the Homestead! XOX ~TxH~