Alex O'Brien

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The food scraps you should be eating

The food scraps you should be eating

Did you know that Kiwis discard 122,547 tonnes of food a year? That's enough to feed around 262,917 people, or the population of the Bay of Plenty for 12 months. The average household sends around 79kg of edible food to landfills every year, costing the average household $563 a year. Bread, fruit and vegies, and meal leftovers are the most commonly discarded foods.

There is plenty that we can do to reduce the amount of food we waste. Without knowing it, we are often discarding the best parts of the fruit and vegetables. The skins, peels, stalks and rinds are often full of flavour, and more importantly, full of vitamins and nutrients.

How to save money and reduce your footprint

  • Plan your shopping list so that you only buy the food you need. 
  • Eat leftovers. 
  • Freeze food before it goes off. 
  • Use up food that you already have at home before buying more
  • Compost your food waste instead of putting it in the general waste bin
  • Reuse food scraps you would normally discard
What food scraps are good to eat?

  • Juice pulp is full of fibre and nutrients. You can add the pulp back into your juice or add it to smoothies, frittatas, muffins, cakes and bakes. It can also be used to add flavour to chicken stuffing. If you don't want to use it right away, you can store it in the fridge for a few days or freeze it for future use.
  • Stems of herbs such as parsley and coriander can be juiced, added to stock, broths and soups or thinly sliced and added to salads and frittatas. They are chock full of flavour so you can even use them to infuse oils and vinegars.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower stalks are similar in nutrient content to the florets and can be used in much the same way – steam, bake, stew or add to broths and soups.
  • Root vegetable peels from potatoes, parsnips, beetroots, carrots, swedes and ginger can be chopped and added to soups, casseroles, stews, vegetable fritters and meatballs. Root vegetable skins can also be oven-baked with a sprinkling of salt and spices for a moorish and healthy chip-like snack. Make sure you clean the fruit or vegetable well before peeling and opt for organic produce that's free from pesticides where possible.
  • Citrus peels and their zest is perfect for adding a concentrated flavour to cakes, bakes and salad dressings. After hand juicing, citrus halves can be stuffed inside a chicken or duck before roasting or thinly sliced and added to salads.
  • Watermelon rind can be finely grated and added to salads or pickled and served as a side with other dishes.
  • Onion skins are high in antioxidants and dietary fibre and can be added to stock or soups to extract the nutrients or used to stuff poultry before roasting.
  • Pear and apple cores (and peels) can be poached and added to crumbles and fruit cakes. They also work well in chutneys and preserves.
  • Celery leaves can be chopped and used as you would celery stalks.
  • Cauliflower and broccoli leaves contain the same, if not more nutrition than the florets and can be steamed or sautéd like other greens.
  • Beetroot leaves can be steamed or sautéed like other greens.
  • Fennel fronds can be chopped and added to broths, soups, stews and salads.
  • Carrot tops can be juiced, steamed or sautéed like other greens.
  • Pawpaw seeds can be juiced, added to a fruit salad or dried in the sun until they resemble black peppercorns. Add to a pepper grinder and use much like pepper to spice food.
  • Pumpkin seeds can be scooped out and toasted on a tray in the oven for 15 minutes at 180C and eaten as a snack or sprinkled on steamed vegetables or salads for extra texture.
  • Corn silk is the fine strands found when we peel back the corn leaves on a cob. It's full of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, mineral and fibre. Drink as a tea or chop and add to soups and stews.
How do you re-use your leftover scraps? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Anthia Koullouros. First appeared on

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