Over 30% of the world’s food scraps end up in landfills each year, including vegetables. It’s wasteful and harms our environment. We want to share creative ways you can use leftover veggie tops, skins, and stems in cooking.

Putting vegetable scraps to use saves money, avoids waste, and stops good food from rotting away in trash piles. Read on for useful ideas to stop vegetable scraps from going to waste.

Soups and Broths

One of the best uses for vegetable scraps is making flavorful, aromatic soups and broths. Rather than letting bits like onion skins, carrot tops, and mushroom stems go to waste, simmer them in water to extract their essences into a rich homemade stock.

It’s easy to save veggie scraps over time for broth-making. Keep a bag in your freezer and add trimmings as you prep produce. Great scraps to collect include:
  • Onion skins- Impart savory, aromatic flavor
  • Carrot tops and ends- Lend sweetness
  • Celery leaves and ends- Contribute herbal notes
  • Mushroom stems- Offer hearty umami tones
  • Broccoli stalks- Give pleasant bitterness
  • Sweet potato skins- Provide earthy richness
You can also utilize fresh herb sprigs that wilt quickly like parsley, cilantro, dill, and thyme. Mixed, this assortment of vegetable bits creates complex, well-balanced broths ideal for soups, grains, stews, and more. They make a flavorful liquid gold out of would-be trash.

Simmer your veggie scraps for 1 hour, then strain and use or freeze the broth for later.

Veggie Skin Chips

Veggie skins that usually get tossed can become crispy, crunchy, healthy chips with little extra effort. Rather than peeling potatoes, carrots, beets, and other robust vegetables, scrub them clean and slice them into disks or wedges with the skins on.

Roast the veggies at 400°F until the skins become perfectly crispy, about 30-40 minutes. The natural sugars will caramelize in the oven for full-flavored chips. Season with spices like:
  • Chili powder- Savory heat
  • Ranch seasoning- Cool herbiness
  • Za’atar– Warm, earthy blend
You can also fry skins for extra crunch. Classic potato skins make a beloved appetizer. Take them up a notch by frying carrot, kale, beet, sweet potato, or parsnip skins too. They make a nutrition-packed snack full of fiber.

Veggie skins require no specialty products—just the excess scraps you’d normally throw away. Allowing veggies to keep their skins adds flavor and cuts food waste. Embrace the skin by making crispy roasted or fried veggie chip creations. With just some olive oil, spices, and oven time, you can transform vegetable scraps into something crispy and delicious.

Regrowing Veggies from Scraps

Did you know many vegetable scraps can be regrown into leafy greens and herbs right on your kitchen counter? It’s a great way to yield more food from would-be waste.
  • Green onions will regrow from the root end. Place the white bulb in small glasses of water by a sunny window. Change the water every few days as new green shoots emerge within a week.
  • Romaine lettuce hearts will also continue growing when placed cut-side down in shallow bowls of water. As leaves sprout up from the center, harvest the outer ones while keeping the core intact to yield multiple crops from one head.
  • Carrot tops can regrow too. Cut off the leafy tops, and submerge the roots in water with the tops sticking out. New vibrant leaves will eventually unfurl, which you can use like fresh parsley or cilantro.
Watch your food “trash” come back to life as you grow kitchen scraps into leafy greens. Harvest homegrown ingredients to add a just-picked element to cooking.

Composting What’s Left

After exploring creative ways to cook with vegetable scraps, remember there is still value in sustainably farming what remains. Compost reduces waste going to landfills while transforming scraps into nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden.

Nearly any veggie scrap can be composted, including:
  • Fruit and vegetable peels
  • Wilted leafy green ends
  • Corn cobs and husks
  • Eggshells
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Mushroom stems
  • Broccoli stalks
  • Asparagus ends
The organic materials provide moisture, carbon, and nitrogen to feed healthy compost. Finished compost contributes beneficial microbes and nutrients to the soil that plants thrive on.
Use compost to:
  • Mix into garden beds and potting soil
  • Top dress lawns
  • Feed houseplants
  • Mulch around trees and shrubs

The Closing Scraps

The next time you start chopping veggies, think about how to use the entire plant– skins, stems, stalks, and all. With some simple kitchen tricks, it’s easy to give scraps a delicious second life in recipes and garden compost. Not only does reducing food waste save us money, but it also helps protect our planet.

When stocking your kitchen, remember that high-quality ingredients are key. For the freshest organic and local produce year-round, head over to your neighborhood Fresh Farms market. Our awesome staff loves helping shoppers pick top varieties of fruits and veggies bursting with flavor and nutrition.

Come browse our seasonal selections online or stop at a store near you. Together, let’s get creative with using the whole vegetable, having fun in the kitchen, and keeping good food from going to waste.