Some plant-based newbies find that their food waste increases as they ramp up the number of fruits and veggies they eat. Are you leaving some (or a lot) on the chopping block? Keep reading to get some tips on how whole food plant-based eaters can reduce food waste.
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If you’re new to a whole food plant-based lifestyle you’ve probably upped your fruit and veggie intake, big time. Good for you! Your body, mind, and soul are thanking you. As you increase your plant intake you might notice you are generating more plant waste.
And you’re not alone. Food waste in America is a real problem. Did you know that your average American wastes a pound of food every day and research shows that people who eat more fruits and vegetables are the most wasteful? This is bad news because your food waste has a big environmental toll. For instance, one pound of wasted food per day amounts to a yearly use of 30 acres of land, 780 pounds of pesticide and 4.2 gallons of irrigated water. Rotting food also clogs up landfills and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
So Mama wants to help you eat your veggies from root to stem to add extra nutrients to your diet, save you money, and help you reduce food waste in America. Here are our tips for using common veggies to their full potential.
7 Ways to Reduce Food Waste by Using the Whole Veggie
1. Make veggie broth with scraps
Next time you’re peeling and chopping veggies, put your scraps in a freezer bag and save for later to make homemade veggie broth (here’s a quick and easy recipe for making veggie stock). We like to use scraps from:
- Onions (skin, too!)
- Carrots (peels, leaves, stems)
- Asparagus ends
2. Then season that soup stock with herb stems
Save the stems of your parsley, basil, cilantro, sage, and other fresh herbs then store in a sealed bag in the freezer until you’re ready to season that homemade veggie broth you made with these yummy "scraps."
3. Make a million different things with your broccoli stalks
Think the crown is where it’s at when it comes to broccoli? You’re selling this cruciferous vegetable short. Broccoli stalks are a must-have and versatile ingredient for any plant-based kitchen. You can:
- Chop them and then use as a crunchy addition to your salad
- Pickle them by following this easy quick pickle recipe (swap cucumbers for chopped broccoli stems!)
- Spiralize them for a delicious and healthy weeknight meal (swap zucchini for broccoli in this zesty zoodle recipe)
- Blend them into your favorite dairy-free pesto recipe
- Roast them with the rest of the broccoli (they roast wonderfully)
4. Use fruit peels and citrus zest as flavor boosters
Leftover fruit peels can add a welcome zip to beverages like tea, mocktails, even just water! We especially like to add apple peels to tea or toss them with a big green salad.
Oh, and whenever any recipe calls for lemon know that you can (and should!) use that extra juice and even the rind to give the recipe the extra oomph you deserve. Seriously, if you’re not zesting your lemons, stop reading this and go get a zester ASAP! (Pro tip: if you have a cheese grater, that's a zester!)
OK, now that you’ve got your zester...experience the magic of the humble lemon and its zest for yourself when you whip up this plant-based Blueberry Lemon French Toast recipe.
5. Make sweet corn broth from leftover cobs
After you’ve chowed down on the sweet kernels, keep the cobs and make sweet corn broth, to be used with or in place of veggie broth in your favorite soup recipes. It’s so easy to make! Just place 12-18 leftover corn cobs in a big soup stock and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer that corn broth for an hour (or more if you have time). It can be used immediately, saved in the fridge for a week or two, or kept frozen.
6. Make a salad with beet greens
Toss your beet greens in a healthy salad, not in the trash. Wash and chop, then use your favorite oil-free salad dressings to whip up a nutritious and delicious side salad. Need some inspiration? Here are our favorite ways to dress up your salad.
7. Make smoothies from celery leaves, strawberry tops, and kale stems
Another great way to use up “scraps” is to toss those babies right in the blender and make yourself a smoothie (check out some of our heart healthy smoothie recipes here). Celery leaves, strawberry tops, and kale stems can all be used in recipes that call for part of the aforementioned veggie or fruit. Just make sure you blend until everything’s smooth and creamy.
Eliminate food waste AND up your plant-based cooking in one fell swoop by using the whole vegetable. Keep your veggie and fruit “scraps” and you can:
- Make savory veggie broth from onion peels, celery leaves, carrots tops, leek stems and leaves, herb stems.
- Enjoy crunchy salads, pickled snacks, and dairy-free pesto with broccoli stalks.
- Flavor your tea and water with fruit peels or add an extra oomph to all kinds of recipes by zesting your lemons.
- Simmer leftover corn cobs for a sweet broth.
- Switch up your salad greens with beet greens.
- Add discarded celery tops, strawberry stems, and kale stems to your smoothie.