Weeknight Cooking

24 Ways to Cook with Scraps

March  7, 2016

If you've ever cringed as you've thrown out a few spoonfuls of yogurt, wondered whether broccoli stalks could meet a happier fate than the trash (or even the compost), or unsuccessfully tried to scrape the dregs from the peanut butter jar, then this post is for you. Below, tips for using stalks, stems and tops; chicken bones and fat; stale bread; and those last bits of yogurt and PB. Whether you're already a closed-loop cooking pro, or are just trying to be a bit greener, take inspiration from these clever recipes to waste less in the kitchen (and be rewarded deliciously):

Produce Scraps:

Peanut Butter Dregs:

Yogurt Dregs:

Chicken Fat and Chicken Bones:

Stale Bread:

Got any closed-loop cooking tips? Tell us in the comments!

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Annie Crabill

Written by: Annie Crabill


carlyn April 10, 2016
Just because in our culture we have not used a particular part of a vegetable, we should not call it a "scrap."
I learned from my Sri Lanka friend that Beet stems are delicious. I used them in the Lebanese recipe for chard stem dip and it worked really well:
Dice beet stems or chard stems into about 3/8 inch. Boil about 5 minutes until just tender. Mix equal parts tahini and lemon juice, a little salt, a little water to thin and stir with the stems. Serve in a small bowl, top with olive oil, and use pita bread for dipping. This is also a Great Topping for roasted beets.
When I serve them, everyone loves them.
Antonia A. March 15, 2016
For decades I've made what my friends have dubbed refrigerator soup but I've always called garbage soup. It's impetus was cleaning out the fridge and freezer one day, and it starts with butter, so how bad can it be! I sauté onions, garlic, shallots, celery, whatever, and add salt. Chop up anything firm, including apples or pears, broccoli, cabbage, radishes—whatever's in the box—and throw it in the soup pot. Then, add liquid. Balance is important, so if the liquid is apple juice, for example, rather than broth, be sure it's offset with lots of savories—or go for a full-on fruit soup. Now's the time to toss in those tired frozen cubes of tomato paste and herbs. Add meat, poultry or fish to taste—I've been known to fry and throw in a scant handful of pancetta or julienned salami that got lost behind the quart of yoghurt. Let it simmer for as long as you can. Season to taste. Sometimes I blend it before serving. It's never the same, and it's always been good.
btglenn March 13, 2016
Richard Olney, in his "Simple French Food" has a wonderful section in his preface about cooking with scraps - which he entitles "Thoughts About Improvisation. -- "My consciousness is cluttered with memories of memories and half-memories of endless pilafs garnished with a variety of sautéed vegetables and scrapings from roast chicken -- or combined with ragouts concocted from leftover roasts, heightened perhaps with butter-stewed onion, saffron, mushrooms, dried or fresh, one or several of the garden's herbs, of crepes, raviolis, or cannellonis stuffed with refrigerator remainders become soufflé mixtures, or béchamel bound; vegetable gratins, puddings, hashes, stews, and daubes….
The approach to improvisation must vary with the individual. I have to see everything before me: The refrigerator is empties out, down to the last drop of a jellied roasting juice or dribble of rice, and the cupboards and vegetable bins are examined; all possible ingredients are lined up on a table. from a given lineup a number of possibilities will always present themselves, and, when one's path has been chosen, the rejects may of course be removed and examined anew fir some other course for the meal."
M March 7, 2016
I still marvel how often people don't make chicken stock, or use a roast chicken to its fullest. It can make so many meals.

1 Roast Chicken =
-roast chicken dinner for 2
-2 chicken sandwiches (salad or chunks)
-skins become chicken salt or fried for crunch on sandwich
-bones become stock (with leftover celery stalks and leaves and carrot bits)
-remaining bits of meat + stock and veg become soup
-rest of stock gets used for future soups, sauces, etc.