A farmer in Mexico harvests her vegetables.

Eat more sustainably. Eat every part.

Eating every part of produce items is a valuable habit to help reduce food waste.

Just about every person is guilty of it in some way or another; we waste a lot of food. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average household in the United States tosses out about a quarter of all food purchases. This is an important habit to break if we are to become better stewards of creation.

One of the most effective ways to bring down your amount of food waste is to make sure you eat or make use of every part of produce. It can be difficult, especially when veggies are only sold in a bulk quantity that is much larger than what you’d like to use. Or when veggies ripen and go bad faster than expected. Or when you’re used to throwing out pieces like carrot tops or watermelon rinds.

You did know you can eat those parts, right? Here are a few tips to help you make use of veggie parts that you might otherwise throw out.

Stock from pumpkin is used to make "Independence Soup" in Haiti
Stock from pumpkin is used to make “Independence Soup” in Haiti

1) Stock Up

Don’t throw out veggie scraps when you can turn them into vegetable stock. This is the perfect habit to start, because just about every vegetable can be salvaged for soup someday. Keep those extra leeks, mushrooms, corn cobs, potato skins, onion leftovers, carrot nubs, etc. in a bag in the freezer. Once it’s fully, boil it in water and let it simmer for an hour to 90 minutes… when it comes to flavor, longer will be stronger. Strain out the solid parts and use them in compost. The liquid can then be used for a great soup. Not a fan of soup? Try thickening it with flour or corn starch to make a veggie gravy. Or adding it to barley to make a flavorful risotto.

2) Get Picklin’

Here’s another tip that works for a wide array of vegetables and beyond… pickle them! All it takes is salt, sugar, vinegar, some spices, and some time. Throw in a few slices of jalapeño if you want to heat things up a bit.

Pickles are so great that there are some foods you might not eat if they weren’t pickled. A common example? Watermelon rinds. Keep those out of the landfill and in your pickle jar. They pair great with salads or sandwiches.

Homegrown herbs from Haiti
Homegrown herbs from Haiti

3) Don’t Waste Thyme

Thyme, along with mint and parsley and coriander and any fresh herb can go bad pretty quickly. They’re often sold by the fist-full, so it isn’t too uncommon to be stuck with a large bundle of parsley that is starting to yellow and go limp.

Here’s how to save them: Dry them out. Once they’re dehydrated, you can mix them into nearly anything to add some interesting flavor. Throw a bit of dried coriander in your pickle spice. See how rosemary goes with that veggie broth. Take some of that dried parsley and stir it into your butter. Your friends will recognize you as someone who doesn’t miss an opportunity for more flavor.

4) Unpeel flavors

So much food waste comes from our excessive habit of peeling everything. Carrot and cucumber membranes are just fine to eat. Furthermore, lots of peels can be used to enhance flavors.

Orange and citrus fruit peels have a sharp and distinct zest. Adding bits of lemon zest to baked goods is usually a good idea. Dried orange peels can be a surprisingly aromatic bit of fire kindling. Lemon end pieces can be great for scrubbing down cutting boards.

You can also boil peels in a pot of hot water, strain them out, and add your favorite peels. Pomegranate peels, orange peels, and apple peels lend themselves to tea quite nicely.

Carrots have many reusable parts
Carrots have many reusable parts

5) Turn fruit scraps into smoothies

You know that bag of veggie scraps you have going in the freezer? Lets start a second one for your fruits! If you have some extra berries, a few leftover apple slices, some overripe bananas, and so on… go ahead and put them in there. Once you get the right amount, it’s time for a smoothie.

These can blend well with milk, yogurt, or ice cream- which is a good way to make the most of those products as well. Not only is this efficient and tasty, but a pretty healthy habit to have.

6) Don’t waste a carrot

There’s something about carrots. We just don’t get the most out of them.

The nubs you’re left with after slicing? They go well in stock.

The extra carrots you have left over? You can boil them and blend them with boiled eggs, oil, and herbs to make a spread.

The carrot tops? They can be pureed with cilantro, parsley, and perhaps even walnuts for a sauce.

And the skins? Just go ahead and eat them after a good rinse!

7) Give bananas and avocados a second chance

These two fruits really don’t like being exposed to air. Their yellow and green flesh goes to brown way too fast, doesn’t it?

That’s okay, because banana bread and chocolate mousse are also brown, and overripe versions of these fruits can lend themselves well to these two products. Avocados mixed with milk, sweetener, and cacao powder can make for a bittersweet and rich dessert.

Interested in more ways to live sustainably? Download our 88 point guide for living sustainably here!

Philippe Lazaro

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