17 Ways to Use Up Your Kitchen Scraps You’ll Actually Love

updated Aug 14, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

There are many reasons we’ve been trying to cut down on kitchen waste — to stop tossing so much out and stretch our budgets, to name a few — but thankfully there are plenty of recipes that use up all those odds and ends in our kitchens. I mean, have you tried baking your potato peels? You should.

From the Parmesan rind and potato peels that normally wouldn’t end up on your table to last night’s bread and berries past their prime, we have 17 budget-friendly recipes that will put all those scraps to good use.

Recipes That Reduce Kitchen Waste — But Make It Tasty

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When you are nearing the end of the tortilla pack, and you don’t have enough to make tacos for the whole family, opt for migas instead. It’s a great way to bulk up scrambled eggs and stretch everything just a little bit further. We like to serve this for dinner the night before going to the grocery store.

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Chicken Stock

We couldn’t not include stock on this list about using up kitchen scraps. Like the compost bucket, the stock bag is a staple in our freezers. We keep the odds and ends that still have a little life left for making a flavorful broth.

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Vegetable Stock

Save all your kitchen scraps to make this flavorful soup base.

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Triple Berry Quick Jam

On those rare occasions when we aren’t able to eat up all of our berries before they start to get a bit mushy, we turn to this recipe for quick jam. There’s no canning required — instead the jam keeps in the fridge for a short amount of time or in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it up.

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Stir-Fried Noodles with Shredded Chicken and Winter Vegetables

Rotisserie chicken is one of our favorite time-saving tricks, but we usually end up with lots of leftovers. That’s why this noodle stir-fry is a staple. Add leftover chicken of any kind, along with any veggies you happen to have in the fridge, and you have dinner in record time.

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How To Make Zucchini Bread

Zucchini is a CSA favorite. We always end up with an abundance of the summer squash, and that means we make tons of zucchini bread. It’s a great way to use up those odd pieces that are leftover from other recipes or salads. Plus, zucchini bread is the perfect thing to keep in the freezer for later.

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Zucchini Banana Bread

Even better than using up your zucchini is using that up plus leftover, browning bananas as well.

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Quick, Cool Cucumber Sauce

No, this isn’t tatziki, but it does look a lot like it. Instead it’s our favorite summer spread that’s made for sandwiches or veggie dipping. While you might be inclined to make quick pickles with leftover cucumber slices, give this recipe a try next time, and we guarantee you’ll keep a batch in your fridge all summer long.

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Garlic and Herb Marinated Mozzarella Bites

You don’t have to have the leafy parts of your herbs to make this recipe; it’s a great way to use up stems from parsley or basil. And you can save slices of lemon peel from another recipe to add to this appetizer as well.

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Candied Orange Peel Recipe
In the event find yourself with far too many oranges this winter, the leftover peels can be boiled in syrup and rolled in sugar to make this delicious sweet.
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How To Make a Fruit Shrub Syrup

Another good use for berries or fruits that are slightly past their prime is to turn them into a shrub, or drinking vinegar. The combination of fruit and vinegar mellows the sweetness of the fruit and the sharpness of the vinegar into a perfectly refreshing drink. We like adding in a few herbs or spices, then topping the final shrub with seltzer and maybe a splash or two of gin.

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Crispy Brussels Sprouts Chips

Don’t get rid of those tough outer leaves that you normally peel from your Brussels sprouts. Instead, treat them like kale and make roasted Brussels sprout chips. We promise these crunchy “chips” won’t last long if you set them out before dinner.

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Three-Cheese Tortellini in Parmesan Broth

If ever there was a reason not to throw out those Parmesan rinds, this is it. Whether or not you use homemade tortellini, this dish is supremely dinner-party worthy. And while it feels light, it’s really the cheesiest.

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How To Make Limoncello

Probably one of the most classic uses for lemon peels is making limoncello. All you need are the peels of a few lemons, a bottle of vodka, some sugar, and some time. Just be sure you remove as much of the white pith as you can from the lemon peels to prevent your liqueur from tasting too bitter.

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Raspberry Vinaigrette

When you find a deal on berries that’s just too good to pass up, this dressing recipe will come in handy. Make a big batch of it and keep it in the fridge for summer salads, sandwiches, and more.

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Cheesy Panade with Swiss Chard, Beans & Sausage

Similar to the pasta bake, this savory bread pudding is like a choose-your-own-adventure dinner. The only required ingredients are some leftover bread, cheese, and stock. After that, all the fillings and mix-ins are up to you.

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Pickled Watermelon Rind Recipe
Pickled watermelon rind is a sweet summer treat that also helps cut down on food waste.
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