8 Fun Ways to Reduce Food Waste on Exchange

If you cook, you’d know how much food parts get discarded. Here are a few interesting ways we’ve found to reduce food waste and stretch your dollar — perfect if you’re going for exchange on a tight budget or just to cut costs! 

1) Fruit Scraps and Peels

Not a fan of plain water? This will help! Citrus peels, apple cores, and other fruit scraps can be used to infuse water with a hint of natural flavour. Simply place the scraps in a pitcher of water and place it in the fridge overnight. You’ll have a refreshing drink ready for the next day.

Aside from compost, citrus fruit peels can also be used to make a natural fruit enzyme cleaner. There are plenty of recipes online; generally, you’ll require sugar and water. The mixture can then be used as a household cleaner! 

If you have an oven or air fryer, there’s more. You can turn fruit peels into chips by baking or dehydrating them. Apple peels, for example, can be sprinkled with cinnamon and baked until crispy.

2) Herb Ice Cubes

If you have herbs that are starting to look a tad droopy, you can save them by chopping them up and placing them in ice cube trays. Fill with water or stock and freeze: These ice cubes can be added to soups, stews, sauces, and drinks to infuse flavour. It’s an easy way to make tasty dishes all year round!

You can also take herb stems and blend them with nuts or other ingredients to make a nice pesto sauce. If you find this too much work, though, consider boiling them with vegetable scraps for a flavourful soup stock.

3) Carrot, Radish and Beet Tops

It’s rare for root vegetables to come with their leaves in Singapore, so when you come across them you’re in luck! These nutritious greens are perfectly edible and shouldn’t be thrown away. Instead, sauté them for a vegetable dish.

Radish tops are good for soups, carrot tops for Chimichurri, and beet tops for smoothies.

4) Soba Water

Did you know that many soba shops in Japan serve soba water (sobayu) after your meals? So don’t pour that soba noodle cooking water down the drain just yet!

Sobayu contains nutrients that leach out of the buckwheat noodles during cooking. like protein, iron and B vitamins. It is thought to have digestive and health benefits. Add a bit of grated ginger, citrus zest or toasted sesame oil to boost the flavour if desired.

You can also save the sobayu to add umami to dishes. Use it as a base for miso soup or add a splash to sautéed veggies. The starch in the water helps create a rich, savoury sauce. To intensify its flavour, simmer it to reduce the water before adding to dishes.

5) Broccoli Stalks

Many people toss out the broccoli stems in favour of the florets, but these work well thinly sliced in stir fries! Using oyster or vegetarian oyster sauce is *chefs kiss*. You can also chop the stem into small pieces, blanch, and then use it for pesto or cream of broccoli soup.

Broccoli stems are low in calories but high in fibre and vitamins A, C and K. Consider them if you’re looking into healthier meal planning.

6) Watermelon Rinds

Don’t toss those watermelon rinds just yet! They’re perfectly edible and packed with nutrients. Here are a few ways to use them up:

  • Pickling

Slice the rinds into wedges, spears or chips. Next, bring vinegar, water, sugar and spices to a boil and pour over the rinds. Refrigerate for at least 2 days before eating. The pickles can be kept for several weeks.

  • Stir-frying

Stir fry watermelon rinds like you would bell peppers or cabbage. Slice them into bite-sized pieces, then sauté in a hot pan with oil and aromatics like garlic and ginger. Add soy sauce, chilli peppers and sesame oil for extra flavour. When you can pierce them with a fork, that’s how you know they’re ready!

  • Juicing

You can actually run watermelon rinds through a juicer to make a refreshing drink! Combine the juice with mint, lime and sweetener of your choice. The juice is very hydrating and contains citrulline, an amino acid that may improve blood flow.

7) Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds no longer add taste, but they can still enhance your food!

They are high in antioxidants and minerals, and some ways you can use them include adding them to meatloaf or hamburgers — the grounds will help keep the meat moist and add extra texture. Another option is to add a spoonful or two directly to brownies or chocolate cake batter. The grounds will make the texture a bit heartier without overly impacting the taste.

8) Stale Bread

  • Toss cubed bread with olive oil, herbs, and parmesan
  • Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 200 degrees Celsius, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes until golden brown

Turn stale bread into croutons! Here’s a quick recipe:

As you’ve discovered, many leftover bits and ends actually have plenty of life left in them! The next time you cook, why not get creative in the kitchen?


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