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12 Versatile Ways to Use Kitchen Scraps

linsaythomas profile picture
Linsay ThomasGuest Blogger
September 23, 2016 · 2k Views

As humans, we create more than four pounds of waste each day. That’s hundreds of millions of tons of garbage we produce each year. Approximately 55% of this waste ends up in landfills. Maybe you recycle or drive an electric car, but there’s much more you can do to save the environment. One way starts in your kitchen.

When you prepare food, you may leave some waste, like celery ends or orange peels. Maybe you don’t want to eat these parts – and that’s totally understandable – but there are better things you can be doing with these unused parts instead of throwing them in the trash.

Many kitchen scraps are useful for other purposes, like making soups or deodorizing the home. Before you throw out those orange peels and coffee grounds, read this article.

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  1. Citrus peels

    citrus peel

    ​Source: tessadomesticdiva.com

    Citrus peels are versatile items with many purposes. You can add orange, lime, lemon, and grapefruit peels to your smoothies for a boost of fiber. They work well for deterring cats and insects. Citrus peels also keep brown sugar soft, so place one in the bag. They are also useful as a deodorant for the dishwasher and garbage disposal. You can also grind up citrus peels, add some salt and pepper and make your own seasoning.

  2. Coffee grounds

    coffee grounds

    Source: fitlife.tv

    So you brewed a pot of coffee and you’re left with the remnants. You should just trash them, right? Wrong! Like citrus peels, coffee grounds have many uses as well. You can use them to kill fleas and ants. They’re also helpful for deodorizing and scrubbing dishes. They can also help clean fireplaces. Because of their abrasive properties, coffee grounds can also remove gunk from sticky tools. They have beauty purposes as well. Add some to your conditioner for extra shiny hair. You can also use coffee grounds on your skin as an exfoliator. So don’t trash them – use them to make your kitchen even cleaner.

     You might also like: 14 Surprising Uses for Old Coffee Grounds

  3. Celery leaves

    celery leaves

    Source: foodandwine.com

    Instead of trashing them, just eat them! You can also add them to smoothies, soups, and other dishes to make them more palatable while getting much-needed nutrients.

  4. Herb stems

    herb stems

    Source: ripandtan.jennikanye.com

    You don’t have to toss those stems from herbs you have just cut. You can use them to add flavor to vinegar, oil and stock. You can also toss them on the grill the next time you’re cooking to add some herbs and aroma to your meal.

     You might also like: How to Get the Most Value Out of Fresh Herbs

  5. Cheese rinds

    cheese rinds

    Source: bonappetit.com

    Hard cheeses are great until you get to the rinds. You can’t really eat them, but they’re still good enough to use somehow. Toss them in a soup or stew for a cheesy burst of flavor. You can also use this rind as a spread, so bust out the crackers and enjoy an hors d'oeuvre before dinner.

  6. Corn on the cob

    corn on the cob recipe

    Source: localkitchenblog.com

    Once you’ve eaten all the corn, you’re left with the cob. Don’t toss them just yet because believe it or not, the cob can be used in several ways. You can simmer them in a pot of water to create a flavorful stock. They can also spruce up a pot of heavy cream or get churned into a sweet whipped cream.

  7. Banana peels

    banana peels

    Source: recipeshubs.com

    The peels are actually meant to be eaten, but who actually does? Not anyone I know. You can still make use of banana peels by using them in your next cup of hot cocoa. Make a cup and let the peel simmer. It’ll create a banana flavor that will add a kick to your cocoa. Plus, chocolate and banana go great together.

  8. Scraps and peels

    food scraps

    Source: thekitchn.com

    You can turn these unwanted peels and scraps into some yummy snacks, spreads and sauces. Have some carrot, apples or potato peels? Dry them out - or in the case of potato peels, fry them up – and you’ve got yourself a tasty snack. You can turn cucumber peels into a sandwich spread. Even the green, leafy tops of strawberries can be turned into pesto. There are many recipes online that can guide you.

     You might also like: 12 Great Ways to Get the Most Use Out of Rinds and Peels

  9. Potato and onion sacks

    potato and onion sacks

    Source: goodhousekeeping.com

    Don’t toss these. With Christmas quickly approaching, you can use these as gift wrapping. They are also useful as laundry bags.

  10. Milk and juice cartons 

    Milk and juice cartons 

    Source: mumsgrapevine.com

    Cartons are useful in many ways. You can turn them into blocks, banks, planters or bird feeders – a great craft activity for children. You can decorate them with construction paper, stickers, glitter – the sky’s the limit! Save those milk and juice cartons and use them on a rainy day.

  11. Parmesan cheese containers

    Parmesan cheese containers

    Source: missiontosave.com

    These handy containers make great storage containers. They can be reused and filled with anything that needs to be sprinkled, such as sugar or seasonings.

     You might also like: 6 Old Things You Should Upcycle Into Awesome Decorations

  12. Egg cartons

    Egg cartons

    Source: decorazilla.com

    Egg cartons work great for storage. You can use them to store golf ball, ornaments and other small circular objects. You can also use them for planting.


With the tips above, you can reduce waste while cooking. This in turn saves trips to the garbage can and keeps landfills from having to store all these reusable kitchen scraps. Try some of these tips today - the environment will thank you.

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linsaythomas profile picture
Linsay Thomas is a seasoned writer and editor who has written thousands of articles about topics such as saving money, healthcare, law, pets and education. She hails from California, where she lives with her husband, two children and a menagerie of pets. When she's not writing, she enjoys sports, breeding chocolate Labs and visiting the beach.