10 No-Waste Recipes to Help the Planet

In the United States, we waste an astounding amount of food—as much as 160 billion pounds each year, according to some estimates. When food is tossed in the garbage, it ultimately ends up in a landfill, buried amongst all the other trash.

Food is an organic waste, which emits methane gas when it eventually breaks down. Because we discard so much organic waste, America’s landfills are now the third largest source of climate-damaging methane emissions in the country. And when food is tossed into the trash can, all the resources used to produce it—the land, the water, the fertilizer, the feed, the oil—are also squandered. 

So why does so much perfectly edible food end up in landfills? There’s a number of factors that contribute to food waste, such as misleading best-by dates, oversized servings and portions, a preference for unblemished fruits and vegetables, and overstocked supermarkets and grocery stores. Learn more about food waste from FoodPrint.

 According to the EPA, preventing food waste is one of the easiest and most powerful actions you can take to save money and lower your climate change footprint.

This Meatless Monday, explore our favorite simple and tasty “scrappy” cooking recipes that reduce food waste and save you money.

Broccoli Stem Fries

You’ll never toss out broccoli stems again after checking out this recipe from Plant You. Although they appear tough and woody, when broccoli stems are chopped, breaded, and baked, they develop a tender inside and crunchy outside to go along with their mild broccoli flavor. For the Broccoli Stem Fries recipe from Plant You, click here.

Kitchen Scrap Veggie Stock

Get scrappy with your vegetable stock using this recipe from Savory Lotus. In this case, “scraps” is a catch-all term that includes: carrot peels and ends, celery ends and leaves, onion skins, broccoli and kale stems, as well as any other wilted vegetables you may have floating around the kitchen. Add all these goodies to a stock pot along with some carrots, onion, celery, garlic, fresh ginger, spices, and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour. Last step is to strain out the solids and store your delicious new veggie broth in some jars or airtight containers. For the Kitchen Scrap Veggie Stock recipe from Savory Lotus, click here.

No-Waste Broccoli Veggie Nuggets

No need for chicken nuggets when you can quickly whip up no-waste broccoli nuggets. The secret to this recipe from Healthy Family Project is the food processor. Throw in your carrots and broccoli for a quick chop, and then mix in your cheese and eggs (plant-based alternatives work here, too). Form the mixture into balls and roll into some breads, before lining on a baking sheet and roasting the oven. Bake for fifteen minutes and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. For the No-Waste Broccoli Veggie Nuggets recipe from Healthy Family Project, click here.

No-Waste Carrot Tops Soup

This recipe for no-waste carrot tops soup from SOS Cuisine is perfect for any season. Using the carrots and their green carrot tops creates a delicate but pungent vegetable soup that’s teeming with carrot flavor. For the No-Waste Carrot Tops Soup recipe from SOS Cuisine, click here.

Stem and All Green Burger

Have leftover greens wilting away in your refrigerator? Put them to good use with this clever veggie burger recipe from Max La Manna. The patty is light-yet-hearty and packed with protein-rich chickpeas and cannellini beans. Chestnut mushrooms add a nice bit of chew, and the flax seed egg binds the whole burger together.For the Stem and All Green Burger recipe from Max La Manna, click here.

Seed to Skin Squash Sage Pasta

Anyone who’s ever dealt with butternut squash knows there’s typically a lot to throw out, but it’s time to rethink dumping those skin scraps and seeds. This clever meal idea from Max La Manna calls for roasting the seeds and skins on a separate baking sheet and using them as a crunchy topping for his creamy plant-based butternut squash sage pasta. For the Seed to Skin Squash Sage Pasta recipe from Max La Manna, click here.

Spicy Potato Peel Crisps

Skip the bag of greasy potato chips and go with these healthy no-waste spicy potato peel crisps. This recipe from Vegan On Board is so simple and a great way to use up those potato scraps. Just wash and dry the peels and spread them out on a baking sheet before giving them a quick roast in the oven. When sufficiently crispy, remove from the oven and sprinkle with seasonings. For the Spicy Potato Peel Crisps recipe from Vegan On Board, click here.

Sweet Potato Skin Nachos

An ingenious use of sweet potato skins, this recipe from Plant You pushes the boundaries of your ordinary bar snack. Sweet potato skins are naturally nutrient-rich, and when roasted, they develop a chip-like texture and toasty flavor. Drizzling a tahini-maple syrup dressing over the crispy sweet potato skins makes for a deliciously satisfying no-waste snack.For the Sweet Potato Skin Nachos recipe from Plant You, click here.

Zero-Waste Cauliflower Pasta Bake

A pasta bake is a classic comfort meal, but this zero-waste version from Cup of Tiah is something special. First off, it uses the whole cauliflower—stems and all—to add more heft, texture, and flavor. It also incorporates a vegan-friendly style of Worcestershire sauce, which adds a refreshing tang to the rich and savory pasta bake. To make this dish entirely plant-based, swap out the cheese and milk for non-dairy alternatives. For the Zero-Waste Cauliflower Pasta Bake recipe from Cup of Tiah, click here.

Zero-Waste Veggie Pie

Think of this delectable dinner idea from Healthy Living James as a plant-based no-waste version of a shepherd’s pie. What makes this recipe so special is that none of the stalks, skins, or peels are wasted. Both the carrots and broccoli stalks are grated and the potato skins are kept on during the boiling and mashed process. For the Zero-Waste Veggie Pie recipe from Healthy Living James, click here.  

Want to learn more about how your food choices can help the environment? Click here for more planet-saving eating tips.