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How to Save Money by Eliminating Kitchen Waste

Updated on November 5, 2011

I have read countless articles on frugal living, saving money and reducing expenses. We have reduced our phone bills, air sealed our home, changed out our light bulbs, become a one-car couple, eat at home and grow food in our gardens. We have even eliminated dog biscuits and switched to carrot sticks for doggie treats. And still, money is tight, the economy stinks and we need to keep looking for ways to cut costs and save more money.

Food is one of the biggest expenses in our household. Of course, I cook. From broth to breads, just about everything is made from scratch. The garden helps keep some of the costs down, but there are gardening costs as well. And then there is the problem of waste. Waste is expensive; it is just the same as throwing away money. If something can be reused, by all means, do it.

We may not be able to eat everything that comes out of the kitchen (sounds weird, I know) but almost all of it is usable in some way. A good portion of our kitchen excess goes directly into the garden. Here are some ways I am saving money by reusing our kitchen excess.

  1. Bones from roasted meats can be re-used to make broth, and then re-used again to make bone meal, which is an excellent nutrient source for the garden.
  2. Vegetable trimmings are composted for use in the garden.
  3. Root ends of some vegetables are replanted to grow more food. We replant the bottom portion of a bunch of celery, root ends of onions, beets and even carrots. Potatoes that start to sprout can be refrigerated until time to plant.
  4. Large cans are used as planters. We buy large cans of tomatoes when we don’t have them growing in the garden. This year, I am saving those cans to grow celery, onions and herbs to give as gifts for the holidays.
  5. Coffee grounds are saved in a separate container from the compost. Once we have enough to fill a good-sized flat container, they will be disinfected with hydrogen peroxide and used as a growing medium for mushrooms.
  6. Paper napkins and towels (yes, we still use them) are added to the compost instead of thrown away. The cardboard rolls are composted as well.
  7. Stale bread is used to make bread crumbs or added to the compost, as are any beans that have been in the refrigerator too long (as long as there is no meat added). Pasta can also be added to the compost provided it does not have meat in it.
  8. Excess flour on the bread board after kneading or rolling out dough is put into the compost pail.
  9. Old cooking oil is saved and used as charcoal lighter. Loosely crumple newspaper or junk mail, add a tablespoon or two of used cooking oil then pile the charcoal on top of it and light your fire. The oil on the paper ignites and helps it burn long enough to light the coals. Speaking of barbecues, if you use wood fires for cooking or heating, the ashes can be composted as well.
  10. Leftover coffee and tea is used to water the garden and to add moisture to the compost pile. We do the same with pasta water.
  11. Rather than letting fresh herbs go bad in the refrigerator, I dry them in the oven or microwave and add them to a spice jar. I have a jar of dried Italian herbs with basil, oregano, sage and rosemary. Of course, my herbs come from the garden but on occasion I harvest more than I need. Drying them is a great way to make sure I have herbs on hand all the time.
  12. Milk and juice containers are washed and sterilized and filled with fresh water for emergency supplies.

What do you do to use up your kitchen excess, eliminate waste and save money?

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    • ellahall2011 profile image

      ellahall2011 6 years ago

      Interesting hub!Thanks you.

    • Julie McM profile image

      Julie McM 6 years ago from Southern California

      Hi tamarawilhite. You can freeze the cuttings and peels to make broth if you don't have a garden. You can also plant the root ends of celery and onions in a container and grow them indoors. Our dogs love the carrots I use when I make broth.

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 6 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      What can you do with vegetable leftovers when you do not have a garden or composting arrangement?