Canada produces a lot of food waste each year—35.5 million tonnes of it

According to Waste Reduction Week Canada, 58 percent of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted annually, and 32 percent of that waste (11.2 million tonnes) could be rescued by purchasing less food at a time and using what we have in our fridges—yes, including food scraps.

Peels, cores and rinds are all valuable parts of fruits and vegetables, and most of the time they wind up in the garbage (or if they’re lucky, they get a second life in the compost). These scraps hold vital and essential vitamins and nutrients that are locked away in the skins.

So let’s find ways to repurpose these forgotten food scraps into some delicious and low-waste meals...

Veggie burgersveggie burgerPhoto by LikeMeat on Unsplash

Homemade veggie burgers are one of the easiest ways to use up a stockpile of scraps. You can make a concoction out of a few scraps, or make a specifically flavoured burger.

  • Juice-pulp burgers
  • Beet-top burgers
  • Radish-top burgers
  • Chickpea water as an emulsifier (egg replacement)

Cider vinegars

apple cider vinegarPhoto by Towfiqu barbhuiya on UnsplashApple cider vinegar is all the rage, and for good reason! It packs a flavour and nutrient punch and is made easily through fermentation. You can also use some herb and veggie scraps around your house to infuse and flavour your vinegar.

Soup stocks

soup stockPhoto by Bluebird Provisions on UnsplashThis is where all of the low-waste magic happens: soup stocks. Really, anything goes in a stock to flavour your next soup or stews. You can blend the soup afterwards to immerse the scraps or remove them from your soup and compost them.

  • Bones for bone broth
  • Onion skins
  • Corn cobs
  • Leek tops
  • Broccoli stalks
  • Carrot tops
  • Celery greens
  • Herb stems

Pickles and ferments

picklePhoto by Aysegul Yahsi on UnsplashYou can pickle practically anything, as long as you find the right recipe for it. Give your sturdy and tough veggies another life through fermentation, and then give your fermented brine another life in dips and dressings.   

  • Dill pickle hummus (made with pickle brine)
  • Fermented watermelon rind
  • Fermented summer squash
  • Salad dressing (oil and brine mixture)
  • Pickled veggie cashew dip (made with any veggie brine)
  • Ginger peel bug (for making natural soda)

Syrups and juices

carrot orangePhoto by Vedrana Filipović on UnsplashMaking your own juices and syrups will allow you to control the amount of sugar used in your beverages and give you peace of mind about preservatives and additives. Iced teas, juices and simple syrups can easily be made from almost any fruit or veggie scrap.

  • Basil-stem syrup
  • Mint-stem syrup
  • Strawberry-tops simple syrup
  • Lemon-rind juice
  • Orange-rind juice
  • Peach-leaves iced tea
  • Apple-core juice
  • Watermelon-rind tea

Stir fries, curries, soups and stews

stewPhoto by Farhad Ibrahimzade on UnsplashThe best part about mixed dishes like stir fries and soups is that you can throw in a variety of flavours and textures and it never takes away from the dish. Utilize those stalks, stems and any other tough veggies to flavour up your slow-cooked meals.

  • Leek tops
  • Watermelon rinds
  • Broccoli and cauliflower stalks
  • Beet, carrot, radish and turnip tops
  • Chard stems
  • Mushroom stems

Baked dishes

casserolePhoto by Jonathan Pielmayer on UnsplashBaked dishes, much like soups, are a hodgepodge of flavours—although you may want to stick to two or three complementary flavours. Use overly mature or tough veggie scraps to make casseroles, quiches, gratins, macaroni and cheeses, or slice thinly to make veggie fries or chips.

  • Broccoli and cauliflower stalks
  • Overly ripe summer squash
  • Watermelon rinds
  • Beet, carrot, radish and turnip tops
  • Chard stems
  • Potato skins


pesto saucePhoto by Caroline Attwood on UnsplashSauces are well-designed to blend and disguise our food scraps. You can absolutely use whatever you have on hand, although greens, herbs and other softer and more aromatic foods will work best for pestos and aiolis.

Jams and jellies

JamPhoto by Barbara Chowaniec on UnsplashJams are no longer a “sweet foods only” luxury. Thanks to the introduction of jellies, we’ve included their use on savoury dishes, as dips or just spread on crackers. You can make a scrap jam or jelly that will complement any meal you’re making.

  • Basil-stem jelly
  • Dill-stem jelly
  • Cilantro-stem jelly
  • Orange-rind jam
  • Lemon-rind jam
  • Apple-peel jelly
  • Watermelon-rind jam

Cooking with scraps is a great way to keep our kitchens low-waste while also allowing us to be creative and resourceful with the ingredients we have on hand.