Minimizing Kitchen Waste

If the best way to keep a neat and tidy house is simply having less stuff, I’m failing miserably because of my desire to use “waste” rather than throw it away.  This is especially difficult in my tiny kitchen because I’ve been trying to find a use for every food scrap.  My entire kitchen windowsill is full of herb cuttings and the root ends of vegetables that I am trying to sprout.  Whatever we can’t eat or use in some way goes into either the worm bucket or outdoor compost.  Besides not buying more food than we can eat and letting it go bad in the fridge (I let a sweet potato rot recently and was so sad), I’ve been consciously trying to minimize the amount of food that ends up in the compost.

My most recent waste reduction project was inspired by this post from the Kitchn on how to regrow food scraps.  I just happened to have many of these particular veggies in my fridge already!

On the kitchen windowsill I currently have basil, mint, and tarragon that I am rooting in water, cilantro cuttings, a sprouted potato, and a cup with the white heads from green onions. I’ve also stuck the bottoms of heads of romaine, celery, and fennel into shallow dishes of water and am hoping for roots soon.  Rooting cuttings of herbs is my favorite way to start new plants. It’s free! One important thing to keep in mind when trying to root vegetables and herbs is that if you just buy any old piece of produce from the grocery store, especially potatoes, it will probably have been treated with a chemical to prevent it from sprouting, so it is best to regrow local farmer’s market produce or snip some herb cuttings from your friends.

Mint, tarragon, celery, and romaine chilling on the windowsill

Mint, tarragon, celery, and romaine chilling on the windowsill

Wax plant growing in a coffee cup, sprouted potato ready for planting, and green onions.

Wax plant growing in a coffee cup, sprouted potato ready for planting, and green onions.

Here are a few more tips for making the most of your kitchen “waste”:

  • Cook up those totally edible parts of food that we tend to throw away because they are slightly less tasty.  Both broccoli stalks and mushroom stems are woody, but they are great in a “no waste” stir fry.
  • Save (i.e. freeze) the ends of onions, tops of celery, and carrot peels to make stock. I learned this one from Jen at Jen and Joey Go Green.  Also hold onto those cooked chicken bones and shrimp shells. Basically, when in doubt, freeze it.
  • Save old pieces of bread to make fresh breadcrumbs.
  • Use eggshells to start seedlings or add them (crushed) to the soil around your tomato plants for calcium.

See how I end up with so much stuff in my kitchen? This doesn’t even include all the jars, bags, broken pottery, and other containers that I hold onto in hope of finding a perfect use.  I am at least starting to decrease my piles of egg cartons and toilet paper tubes by feeding them to the worms.

Any more tips for minimizing waste? Or better yet, how to save & repurpose without accumulating tons of clutter?

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One thought on “Minimizing Kitchen Waste

  1. Pingback: An Introduction to Slow/Real/Whole Food (for my little sister) | greenwake

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