Food & Drink

How To Save Money On Groceries By Cooking With Kitchen Scraps

You'll never guess what you can do with potato peels.


Great news: There's a surefire way to save money on groceries every week, no coupon-clipping required. Full disclosure: It's going to require some effort.

Save some bucks on food by making the most of kitchen scraps. No, it's not the most exciting way to save, but it really works.

Almost every meal cooked at home creates scraps -- carrots peels, shrimp shells, excess wine (rare, but it happens) -- that always get thrown out. It's a waste of money and food, and it doesn't have to be this way. Many of those scraps can be used to enhance other recipes. We're not talking about just using your vegetable scraps to make stock either (though that is a great idea); it gets way more creative than that.

Check it out, and start saving.

Cook corn cobs to make the best stock ever.
When you simmer cobs in a pot of water, they release a milky liquid that's as flavorful as the kernels. In other words, this stock is amazing, and you should definitely make it. Check out Martha Stewart's recipe for guidance on how to take advantage of summer's sweet corn.
Reuse brine for double the pickles.
Once you've eaten a batch of pickled vegetables, save the juice, and throw in new vegetables. It's double the pickles for the same amount of brine.
Stale potato chips make awesome breaded chicken.
When potato chips lose their crunch, they can still be used to make a great breading for chicken, fish or vegetables. Crumble them up, and use them as you would store-bought bread crumbs.
Despite popular opinion, watermelon rinds are completely edible.
Flickr: grongar
Don't think you're done with that watermelon just because you've eaten the pink fruit. The rinds are edible, too. Pickle them, and you'll see.
Store fresh herbs today, thank us tomorrow (and the next day and the next day). - Marju Randmer/Flickr
More often than not, we buy fresh herbs to make a recipe and then leave them to wilt in the fridge. But if you take one additional step you can preserve the fresh flavor of the herbs for later use. Making compound butter with the herbs or freezing them in olive oil to cook with later is a great way to get the most use out of your basil, cilantro or parsley.
Eat chicken. Then use the bones to make excellent stock.
If you're throwing out chicken bones, you're making a huge mistake. Use those bones to make stock. Not only will it save you money, but it'll be the best chicken stock you've ever had.
Stale bread is a blessing, not a curse.
Fresh bread is amazing, but it goes bad so quickly. Luckily, you can use stale bread to make croutons, bread crumbs or even bread pudding.
Take a minute to chop and freeze leftover celery -- it's worth it.
Just like fresh herbs, celery is another one of those items that gets forgotten about (and left to wilt) in the bottom of the crisper drawer. Before that happens, chop up the remaining celery and freeze it. Next time you need a few stalks, it'll already be ready to cook with. You can do this with carrots, too.
Save corn husks to up your grilling game.
We've already covered what you can do with corn cobs, but you should also be saving the husks. You can use them to make tamales (highly recommended!) or to wrap fish or other fresh seafood in before grilling.
An apple core a day... makes natural jelly.
Flickr: little blue hen
Use leftover apple cores and peels to make jelly. Apples are a great natural source of pectin. Get the recipe on Crafster.
Shrimp shells make the most flavorful stock.
Phú Thịnh Co/Flickr
Shrimp peels and tails are great to hold on to. Whether you're looking to make a seafood stew or just a simple tomato soup, they make flavorful stocks. Store them in the freezer, and you'll always have something on hand to make a good homemade stock.
Make chips out of potato peels.
When life hands you day old cookies, make pie.
Cookies that have seen better days can be crumbled and saved for making pie crusts. It'll get one you step closer to enjoying a homemade dessert.
Cook with wine that's past its prime.
On those rare occasions that you don't finish a bottle of wine fast enough, you can still use it in your cooking. Wine has the ability to enhance dishes with a complexity of flavor that can't be replicated. Check out these recipes for some ideas.
Use broccoli stems to make slaw.
If you've ever bought a bag of slaw at the grocery store, you basically bought shredded broccoli stems. Save yourself the money and shred your own stems.
Cold coffee makes stews heartier.
Flickr: star5112
Don't throw out that cold cup of coffee. Use it to add more flavor to your hearty stews and chilis. (Freeze it until ready to use -- and only if you haven't added milk, cream or sugar.)
Collect tomato juice for cocktails.
Flickr: danbruell
Tomatoes are filled with water -- a great flavorful tomato water. Before tossing the scraps, place them in a strainer over a bowl to collect the juices. Use the juice in soups or to make amazing Bloody Marys.
Use the entire vegetable -- even the green top.
Flickr: color line
Just like with the broccoli stems, the green tops of carrots, beets and fennel (as well as other veggies) can be used in recipes too. Use them to flavor soups, garnish dishes or even in salads.