Save the scraps! 4 Leftovers you shouldn't throw away

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.

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Next time you cut up veggies or fruits for a meal, don't throw away the scraps! All that food-garbage you create can actually be put to good use in other dishes and around the kitchen. Use your kitchen leftovers and kitchen scraps as air refreshers, bug repellent and flavor infusers.

Orange zest

1. Fruit peels

Before you throw out lemon, lime, apple or orange peels, consider using them in the following ways:

Garbage disposal refreshers: Push your citrus peels into your garbage disposal then flip the switch. The acids in the peels will help clean and refresh the disposal and the sharp citrus scent will infuse your sink with a crisp aroma.

Collect the zest: Use a paring knife to cut off the dark-colored coating of the citrus rind, known as the zest, and store it in waxed paper in the freezer. Next time you make baked goods, throw some zest in the mix for a citrus-infused flavor. Similarly, you can soak citrus zest in vodka or olive oil to flavor the contents. Just let the zest sit in the bottle for a week or two and your liquids will taste deliciously fresh.

Apple peel crisps: Dust your apple peelings with cinnamon and sugar, and then bake them in the oven for a sweet and tasty treat.

2. Vegetable scraps

Every time you cut onions, carrots, lettuce or celery (or any other veggie, really), store the scraps in a paper bag in your freezer. You can use them to flavor other dishes and to make your own vegetable stock.

Vegetable stock: Once you've collected approximately four cups of vegetable odds-and-ends, you can make homemade vegetable stock. Simply place your veggies into a large pot, add enough water to cover the vegetables, then bring the pot to a rolling boil on the stove. After you've brought it to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about an hour. Drain the broth into an airtight container and strain out the scraps. The broth will taste especially good if you also collected garlic peels and other spices along the way. Store in your fridge or freeze for later use.

Tasty meats: Next time you're cooking a chicken or a roast, stuff the chicken with your veggie scraps, or cook the meal with the scraps surrounding your meat. The meat will take on extra flavor in the process.

3. Nut shells

Whether you're eating peanuts at a ball game or you're shelling nuts for a holiday party, make sure you save the shells.

Nutty grilling: You can throw peanut shells on top of the coals the next time you grill, adding a nutty flavor and aroma to your food. To make them cook longer, soak them in water then allow them to partially dry before adding them to the coals.

Slug-away: Grind up nut shells and put them in your garden. The rough edges will deter pests like slugs and caterpillars from infesting your plants.

4. Sweet crumbs

Collect the crumbs and leftovers from cookies, cakes, brownies and pies. Store them in a brown bag and freeze them. You can use them as ice cream or yogurt toppings at a later date.

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Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.
Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness, fashion and beauty clients. After working hard to receive her Master’s Degree in Exercise and Sport Science, she now spends her days writing, working out and developing her own website for the "sporty woman" - GirlsGoneSporty.