Cooking with Scraps

125 Recipes to Help Fight Food Waste

​Forty percent of food in the United States goes uneaten.

Forty percent.

It’s a statistic we’ve talked about before, multiple times in fact, but one that bears repeating because the number is so staggering. We need to not just keep talking about it, we need to change it. Especially because we, as consumers, are the biggest part of the problem—we’re throwing away more food than restaurants, grocery stores, or any other part of the supply chain.

Before you get too discouraged, there are promising programs designed to reduce food waste, some already in place, and one currently in progress:

  • Last fall, both the Obama Administration and the U.N. each set goals to reduce food waste by half by 2030.
  • Last month, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Ad Council launched a nationwide “Save the Food” public service campaign designed to, you guessed it, combat consumer food waste. (If you haven’t yet seen it, you can do so here. Tell us your favorite part in the comments; ​we’re smitten with the strawberry top fluttering in the breeze.)
  • Last week, a federal bill was introduced aimed at making expiration date labeling on food less confusing. This could have a huge impact, as the NRDC explains:

    Studies show that up to 90 percent of Americans are misinterpreting date labels and throwing food away prematurely, under the misconception that it’s necessary to protect their families’ health.

And at home, we can all commit to doing a better job of keeping track of what fresh items we have on hand and using tools like this chart to help us figure out which types of produce to use up first. We can also try to make use of everything we can, from bones and brine to pits and peels.

Shop the Story

Here are 125 recipes to help us all do a better job of not scrapping so many scraps:

Bones and Fat

Brine—Pickle, Olive, and Otherwise

Leafy Greens

Parmesan Heels

Peels and Skins

Stale Bread

Stems and Stalks


Other Odds and Ends

Do you have a favorite way to use an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)? Tell us about it in the comments: We want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Rhetta Jack
    Rhetta Jack
  • Sucie
  • Peg Hendel
    Peg Hendel
  • Penny Hammack
    Penny Hammack
  • Kelly Minyard
    Kelly Minyard
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Rhetta J. July 16, 2016
Great ideas! I have gotten into these things over the last few years. Amazing what one can do with stems, whey, rinds, etc. The great variety of recipes on the Internet has assisted us in greatly reducing our food waste. And whatever we can not eat in time gets composted (other than dairy/meat). And that is a very small amount going to landfill.
Sucie July 16, 2016
I love broccoli but am not so keen on the thick stem. My stems are thrown into a ziplock bag in the freezer. Thrown whole into the pan when making stock and liquidized when cool adds a new flavour to beef or chicken stock.
Beate July 21, 2016
making broccoli on the stems are also a good option :)
Beate July 21, 2016
broccoli pesto, that is :)
Peg H. July 16, 2016
I make my own yogurt every 10 days (great crockpot method) and get 1 quart of whey each time. I plan a vegetarian soup to use the whey in place of broth. There isn't much of a flavor to it and it adds more protein. We are partial to whey with lentils, and in chili.
Penny H. July 15, 2016
Telling adults not to waste food is the same as telling children to eat their dinners because of all the starving children in (insert country in crisis here). We would be better off if food came packaged in usable amounts so we wouldn't have to waste it. I live alone and it is difficult cooking for one person without wasting something. I try, buy small amounts, use as much as I can before it spoils but some spoilage is inevitable. We as a country and as individuals definitely need to work on this. And if the farmers grow it and can't sell it and/or have to raise the price in order to feed their own families then we have gained nothing.
Beate July 21, 2016
you should read the cookbook "solo" by anthropologuie :)
Kelly M. July 15, 2016
Wilted lettuce makes a phenomenal addition to stir-fries, cherry pits soaked in a bottle of white vinegar create a tasty infused vinegar that rivals red wine vinegar, and bruised or overripe fruit of many kinds (peaches, apples, plums, cherries, etc.) Gain a whOle new lease on life when slow cooked on the stove with a little liquid, some sweetener, and spices of your choosing.
Mindy S. July 15, 2016
"Last fall, both the Obama Administration and the U.N. each set goals to reduce food waste by half by 2030." WOW....WHAT A LONG-REACHING GOAL THAT COULD BE MET many Americans are starving daily????? This is pathetic. Reduce food waste TODAY.
The B. June 3, 2016
Save all veggie ends-n-nubs in a bag in your freezer, and use with bones to make broth:
Alexandra V. May 25, 2016
I love to save all the pickle juice left after the pickles have been eaten and use it to brine bone in, skin on chicken breasts. Just cover them with pickle juice marinate for several hours and roast at 375 for 30 min, then crank it up to 425 for 10 minutes. They turn out really delicious and there is no need for any other seasoning.
Taste O. May 25, 2016
BTW, food waste unfortunately doesn't biodegrade in landfills--there isn't enough oxygen for the bacteria to break it down. San Francisco is a leader in collecting it for composting. But the best, of course, is to not waste to begin with.
Fredrik B. May 25, 2016
Wait, really? What happens to it when it rots?
AntoniaJames May 25, 2016
And another 2 dozen + using herb stems are listed here and found in linked collections . . . . . ;o)