Waste Not, Want Not: 24 Tips to Reduce Food Waste Using Fruits and Vegetables

A bevy of produce against a white backdrop with black dashes


Don’t toss those scraps! According to the United States Department of Agriculture, roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted every year. And of that number, a whopping 40% of food waste happens in the home! This means that not only are we throwing away food that could be used, but we are also wasting the resources that went into producing, transporting, and packaging that food. 

One simple way to reduce food waste in the home is by finding creative ways to reuse fruits and vegetables. Below we explore 24 ways to reuse fruits and vegetables to reduce food waste and save money. By following these simple tips, you can reduce waste and make the most of plant foods in your kitchen! 

  1. Use the tops of carrots, beets, or turnips to make pesto or chimichurri sauce, like this zero waste Radish Greens Chimichurri. 
  2. Use vegetable scraps like onion peels and garlic skins to make a homemade vegetable broth. 
  3. Use the leaves of cauliflower or broccoli to add to add to stir-fries or salads. 
  4. Use the stalks of broccoli or asparagus in soups or stir-fries.  
  5. Use the skins of sweet potatoes to make crispy chips in the oven. 
  6. Use overripe tomatoes to make tomato sauce or soup. 
  7. Use leftover apple peels and cores to make homemade apple cider vinegar. 
  8. Use wilted greens like spinach or kale to make a flavorful and healthy smoothie. 
  9. Use leftover pumpkin or squash seeds to make a delicious snack by roasting in the oven. 
  10. Use the leaves of root vegetables like radishes and beets to add flavor and texture to salads. 
  11. Use leftover fruit peels and leftover herb stems to make infused water or tea. 
  12. Use the ends of celery stalks to make a flavorful base for soups and stews. 
  13. Use leftover cucumbers to make pickles or cucumber water. 
  14. Use the stems of herbs like cilantro and parsley to make a flavorful herb oil or paste. 
  15. Use leftover citrus fruits to make a zesty citrus dressing or marinade. 
  16. Use the tops of fennel bulbs to make a flavorful herb seasoning. 
  17. Use leftover corn husks to make tamales or corn stock. 
  18. Use the peels of lemons or limes to make a citrus seasoning by drying in the oven and then blending into a fine powder. 
  19. Use the skin of zucchini or squash to make crispy chips in the oven. 
  20. Use leftover bell peppers to make stuffed peppers. 
  21. Use the white roots of green onions or leeks to grow your own new plants by placing them in a jar of water and changing the water daily until they grow new roots. 
  22. Use leftover cabbage to make sauerkraut or coleslaw. 
  23. Use leftover herbs to make herb-infused vinegar or oil for cooking and dressings. 
  24. Use the skin of potatoes to add texture to mashed potatoes.