Clever Ways to Use Food Scraps

Reader Contribution by James White

The worst part about grocery shopping is when you hand over your credit card — food is expensive! What makes it worse is we don’t eat everything we buy. There are leftovers that can’t be saved and there’s usually a cucumber we find rotting away in the back of our fridge drawer. It happens to the best of us.

However, there’s a whole lot more that can be done with what we don’t use in our kitchen. Leftover produce can be used as compost or even replanted in your home garden. It’s a lot simpler than you think. With the cost of living these days, why not get the most out of your money?

Here’s a few tips, rules and hacks to remember when repurposing your food scraps.


Starting up your very own compost pile is easy. You’ll want good air flow, heat and moisture to encourage decomposition. Raking your scraps and soil regularly, as well as keeping them well watered in direct sunlight, will cover all your bases. You can eventually add this dark, rich soil to your garden, or use it to pot new plants.

Leftovers of almost any kind are welcome. Egg shells, fruit and vegetable peels, old tea bags, soured milk or stale bread are a few good starters. You should also add coffee grounds into your compost. They add nitrogen to your soil and help repel pests.

Let Your Fruits and Veggies Rise Again!

Growing your own food is so underrated. Why regrowing isn’t a part of every household backyard or kitchen counter is a mystery — because it’s simple, easy and more convenient than you might assume.

There’s a long list of produce scraps that can be repurposed, but here are a few popular ideas you might want to apply to your garden.

Celery: Behold the perfect beginner grower’s scrap: a celery stalk base. It’s one of the easiest vegetables to regrow at home, and a staple to keep in the house. Celery sticks make the perfect snacks, with peanut butter or ranch dressing, and also make great salad toppers.

When repurposing your celery scraps, cut off the base of the cluster. Place the base in a shallow bowl of warm water, and expose to direct sunlight for as long as possible each day. After a week, you will notice leaves sprouting up from your base, and it will be time to plant your growing celery stalks in potting soil. Water regularly, and enjoy!

Pineapple: What would look cuter than a pineapple top in a sunshine yellow pot? Besides being the perfect windowsill decoration, pineapple tops can eventually make a beautiful, long-lasting addition to your garden.

Most people have the best luck potting pineapple tops in sandy soil. Bury the head of your pineapple under the soil so the dirt covers everything below the base of the leaves. You’ll want to keep your plant moist, and in indirect sunlight for the first two months of growth. After the initial six to eight weeks, a more mature root system will begin to form and you’ll be able to replant your new pineapple tree.

Avocados: A staple super food, avocados can be cooked into brownies, used as salad toppers, blended into smoothies and added to any Mexican dish. A quaint little avocado tree wouldn’t be the worst thing to plant near a bright window or added to your backyard garden area.

After pitting an avocado, save the seed. Use toothpicks to suspend the pit in a shallow bowl of water, with half of the seed submerged. It may take a while for you to notice growth, but be patient. It can take almost six weeks to notice a stem appear on your avocado pit. After your stem grows to 6 inches, trim half of it away to leave about 3 inches. This helps stimulate growth, and before long your sprout with sport leaves and be ready to plant.

Potatoes: Another easy plant, the potato is the perfect addition to any food garden. After peeling your potato, find a peel about 2 inches long with multiple eyes visible on the skin. This peel can be planted immediately in direct sunlight, about 4 inches below the surface. It may take several weeks to notice growth, but a sprout should be visible in no time.

As we stated earlier, there is an endless list of vegetables and fruit scraps you can turn into growing plants. Do your research and find the foods that work best with your cooking style.

No more throwing away spoiled food in the trash — that must feel good! By repurposing food scraps in your garden — whether as plantings or as compost — you can save some money and feel good about helping the planet at the same time.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.