Trash or Treasure? Reduce Food Waste with These Tasty Recipes

By Jessica Campbell, MS, FNTP

Earth Day provides an important reminder to take action to protect the planet. I think most of us want to make a difference; sometimes we just don’t know how. One simple yet major way we can positively impact the planet is by reducing food waste. 

One of my specialities is using up every part of a plant or piece of meat possible. I love finding creative ways to make the most out of every ingredient, from vegetable peels to beet greens and carrot tops, to meat bones. This not only reduces food waste, but it  increases a dish’s nutritional value. 

Did you know that about a third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted each year? The United States wastes more food than any other country in the world. The average American family of four discards about $1,500 in food per year, according to This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and strains natural resources. 

One of the simplest ways to reduce food waste in your own home is to use up ingredients that might otherwise get tossed. 

I’m sharing three of my favorite recipes that make use of commonly wasted ingredients: Zero-Waste Vegetable Hash, Savin Money Stew, and Roast Chicken and Meat Stock. 

Zero-Waste Vegetable Hash

As the title suggests, this vegetable hash uses up any ingredients in your fridge that might otherwise be thrown out. I use the stems of the Swiss chard, the peels on squash and potatoes, and the greens of the beet, turnips, and even radishes. I love to sauté as many vegetables together at once and add an egg on top for breakfast. This would make a great meal for any time of day. 

Savin Money Stew

This one is easy and inexpensive, allows you to clean out the fridge, and turn your broth into a nutritious stew. It’s a hearty soup with mild flavors. You can spice it up as much as you like, using up extra spices in your cabinet as well. 

Read Unlock the Medicine of Your Spice Cabinet ( for more recipes and ideas for cooking with spices. 

Roast Chicken and Meat Stock

If you cook a whole chicken and throw out the bones, you’re missing out on so much goodness! One chicken can be used for your dinner, then leftover meat for salads or sandwiches or a rice bowl. Then, the bones can be cooked for stock or broth. 

Here’s a page from my cookbook that’s included in my 28-Detox

Here's a quick video on the how-to's for making nutrient dense bone broth. 

If you want to explore even more, here are more resources to help you reduce food waste.

  • Did you know you can cook with banana peels? That’s right, no excuse to toss them in the compost anymore! 

10 Banana Peel Recipes You’ll Go Bananas For - Insanely Good (

  • Don't throw away those carrot tops.  Make this delicious carrot top pesto to toss with pasta, beans, or eat as a dip. 

Carrot top pesto is a tasty, versatile recipe to cut kitchen waste - The Washington Post

  • “Waste not, want not" is sound advice—especially when it produces pickled watermelon rind. 

Old-Fashioned Watermelon Rind Pickle Recipe (

  • If you’re looking for a high-quality cookbook that also includes strategies for reducing food and packaging waste, you won’t want to miss The Zero-Waste Chef. It includes 75 recipes for cooking with every last bit of your food, creating fermented staples, and making highly adaptable dishes that will help you use up all of your groceries. 

  • Last, but not least, check out this site that takes the doubt out of whether to throw it out: Eat or Toss? Is it OK to eat? It includes a database of images of confusing food situations, along with quick, science-based explanations about whether to consume or compost the food in question. The use-it-up recipe page allows you to  filter by ingredient: “From the liquid in a can of chickpeas to the leaves and stalks encasing a cauliflower, let us help you spin something you might have tossed into something that might become your next go-to dish or dessert.” 

With these recipes it should be easy to use up food in your refrigerator and create delicious, nutritious meals that reduce food waste, save money, and have a positive environmental impact.