8 Foods You Can Reuse Before Throwing Out

On my quest to reduce household waste to an absolute minimum, Iíve done a lot of thinking about what goes into the garbage can and what can be diverted to other purposes. With a bit of creative thinking, itís easy to breathe new life into old food. Not only will you reduce food waste, but youíll also save money.

1. Bones

chicken bones

credit:†Jason Sandeman

All meat and fish bones are excellent for making stock. Whether Iím deboning raw meat or scraping dinner plates after the meal, I always slip the bones into a container in the freezer for when Iím ready to make a big pot of stock.

2. Vegetable tops and scraps

vegetable scraps for stock

credit:†WFIU Public Radio

These also make excellent stock, either on their own or added to meat bones. I often have a surplus of green tops (kohlrabi, turnips, carrots) when my weekly CSA share arrives, and rather than stuffing everything into the fridge, I cut off the tops that Iím unlikely to use in cooking and toss them in a stock pot.

3. Sour milk

sour milk in a bowl


Sour milk is essentially the same thing as yogurt when it comes to baking. In fact, some recipes actually call for milk to be soured with vinegar or lemon juice. Rather than dumping it down the drain, save it for the next time you mix up a batch of muffins, tea biscuits, or pancakes.

4. Moldy cheese and leftover rinds

Parmesan cheese rinds

credit:†MGF/Lady Disdain

My penny-pinching grandmother, who was a child of the Great Depression, taught me that mold on cheese is no big deal. If blue fuzz appears on a block of cheese, just cut it off. Similarly, use leftover Parmesan rinds or dried-out chunks of cheese as flavour-boosters in soup, stews, and stocks.

5. Coffee grounds

coffee grounds


Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other trace minerals, which makes them a boon for your garden. You can add them to the compost bin, sprinkle them directly onto the soil, add them to a worm bin, or make a steeped tea of 2 cups coffee grounds and 5 gallons of water thatís an excellent fertilizer. If you’re not a gardener, add them to a homemade facial scrub, as they’re a great exfoliator.

6. Limp vegetables

limp carrot


If you have a bunch of limp celery or carrots at the bottom of the crisper, donít toss them out. Theyíll rehydrate nicely in a soup and youíll never know how awful they looked. If you donít want to use them right away, you can revive wilted lettuce, celery, and herbs by giving them a cold-water soak in the sink for 15 minutes, or prop upward in a cup of water. You can make stock from old roasted vegetables, which gives deeper, richer flavour.

7. Stale bread

making croutons

credit:†Stijn Nieuwendijk

If bread dries out completely or you have unwanted crusts, toss them in the blender and transform into breadcrumbs. Those can be stored in the freezer until needed. Or, you can cut the stale bread into cubes and toast in the oven to make croutons, which make a lovely addition to salads and soups.

8. Bacon fat

spoonful of bacon fat


Pour hot bacon fat into a Mason jar and store in the fridge. Keep adding new layers whenever you cook more bacon. Use the solid fat as a substitute for any cooking oil or butter. It adds extra flavour to sautťed vegetables and works well in baked goods such as cornbread.

Written by Katharine Martinko,†TreeHugger.

Photo credit†credit:†MGF/Lady Disdain

Related Articles

Awesome Ways To Reuse Food Scraps

6 Ways To Revamp Your Leftovers

14 Ways To Cook With Food Scraps



Magdalena J.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

Barb Hansen
Ba H3 years ago


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

Thanks for the great tips!

Val M.
Val M3 years ago


Richelle R.
Richelle R3 years ago

Using veggie "scraps" to make broth is wonderful! I especially like the broth made from dried up mushrooms. Also using the less than perfect leaves from the herbs grown outside in the broth for extra flavor. YUM. And yes, coffee grounds are awesome for gardens. The water used to make hardboiled eggs is good for plants that like calcium. Thank you

Lucy S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Good tips for older veggies!

Elena P.
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you :)

Beverly C.
Beverly C3 years ago

Good Advice.

Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore3 years ago

Another use for sour milk? Dump it in your bathwater. Almost as effective in reducing itching as colloidal oatmeal, just a lot less slippery.

John B.
John B3 years ago

Thanks Kara for sharing these great tips. The only one I haven't done is saving the bones.