Clever Ways to Use Food Waste and Kitchen Scraps

Clever Ways to Use Food Waste and Kitchen Scraps

I almost exclusively blog about upcycling and/or buying secondhand. But, I yearn to expand my knowledge of related ways to be a smart consumer and reduce waste. Mindful consuming, upcycling / secondhand shopping, and looking for ways to reduce waste all fall under the same umbrella. And every time I hear about how much food is wasted in the USA (and elsewhere, I’m sure), I just feel so discouraged. So, I thought it would be beneficial if I did some research into food waste solutions for my own kitchen.

And it turned out, there are ALL SORTS of clever ideas out there for kitchen waste and food scraps! I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I was elated.

For instance, I upcycled a glass vase from the thrift store into this artisan vase…using old coffee grounds as part of the process!

making an artisan vase with coffee grounds and a clear glass vase

Then, I wondered if perhaps you would also enjoy some fresh new ideas for your kitchen scraps, as well?

Food Waste Solutions - Food waste statistics as presented in the New York Times authored by Somini Sengupta

Part of this stemmed from a single moment in my kitchen when I was faced with an empty jar of pickles. The pickles were all gone, but I was left with half a jar of juice / brine. I made a mental note to buy cucumbers for making refrigerator pickles, but then I wondered – what else could I possibly do with this pickle juice?

After doing a little digging, I found out that drinking a bit of pickle juice after a really intense (i.e., sweaty) workout is a great way to restore your electrolytes! Like drinking a sports drink, but it’s already in your fridge and would be otherwise dumped down the drain!

And while I haven’t actively promoted it, I’ve been doing A LOT of working out lately

recycled tote bag from a framed cross stitch

Anyway, I gathered up all sorts of ideas for kitchen waste and food scraps. From fruit peels to coffee grounds to egg shells, stale bread, and aquafaba (canned chickpea juice). I love learning tips and tricks like these and definitely plan to put these ideas to good re-use!

Clever Ways to Use Food Scraps and Kitchen Waste

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I seriously LOVE so many of these ideas. So much so that I am really looking forward to getting more bang for my buck in the kitchen. Part of being a mindful consumer is to make the most out of your resources.

Good for your bank account, good for the planet!

Upcycle t shirt as cloth produce bags for fruit and vegetables

But I’m still curious – are there unique and clever ways that you use kitchen scraps? I’d love to hear about them. Please leave a comment or send me a note!

(And also, don’t worry – I’ll be back to normal upcycling posts after this one!)

If you enjoyed these upcycling ideas for your kitchen scraps, then you may also be interested in this wine cork craft, as well. I use it all the time when I cook!

Wine cork trivet

And while not kitchen waste, per se, these fire starters are a great way to reuse dryer lint and toilet tissue tubes!

DIY fire starter or dryer lint fire starter for emergency prepping

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. I often will re-use the pickling brine by adding peeled carrots. After a week or so they have great pickled flavor, perfect for a relish tray or bloody mary.

  2. giantsdancefarm says

    Thank you for compiling and sharing all those ideas. I’ve actually used several, in particular the citrus ones. I’m sort of addicted to lemon. I use about 3-4 of them a day in my iced tea and cooking. I used to co post my peels after juicing the lemons – living in Michigan I don’t have access to fresh picked, nor can I afford organic very often for safe peels for zest and candied skin.

    When I juice my lemons I cut them in half the opposite way that they show in the citrus candle link. That allows me a little more leeway to trim each end (vs the side) to make a flat base.

    And pickle juice is a great marinade for chicken. We make copycat Chik-Fil-A nuggets or sandwiches that are fantastic!

  3. My mother taught me the refrigerator pickle trick years ago; she also used it on her salad instead of dressing.She even used to drink the cooking water from spinach (yetch!) I dry citrus peels to use for craft projects. One of my current faves, tho, is coffee grounds. I made some cards recently and I punched out yellow sunflowers; the 1/2″ brown circle center was just TOO flat and bland to suit me! I dipped them in glue, then into a bowl of coffee grounds! Instant texture! Looks adorable. And beats the high price of “storebot”! The smell dissipated by the next day, too! As a doll house mini maker, I often use coffee grounds (or tea leaves) for dirt around the tops of flower pots or in flower gardens! I’ve nade coffee soap and sugar scrubs (great to get rid of smells) . Sometimes they even go into the compost bucket! Which, by the way, is made from a cut down gallon milk jug; Kept the handle intact and just curved the opening in front. When it gets a hole or really GRODDY, I just make another one! Loved all the ideas in your post!

  4. PS: There is a recipe to make mayonaise from chickpea juice. I sent it to Al’s son’s family; they had one child allergic to eggs!

  5. Linda Garcia says

    I have a bucket in the freezer and I use it to save little bits of what ever I have left over from a meal. A couple tablespoons of vegetables or less than 1 serving of meat, the liquid left from cooking veges, left over stock if I open a container and don’t use all of it. I put these things into my soup bucket. When it is full, it’s time to make a pot of soup. It is never the same as the ingredients always vary but it is always delicious.
    Another thing I do is freeze bits of celery, onion and carrots in a zip lock bag to use when I have the rotisserie chicken carcass to make stock. If I de-bone chicken thighs myself, i save the bones for chicken stock.
    Any left overs can be frozen. Rather than put a container of leftovers in the fridge that will eventually turn into a science project in the back of the fridge, I label it and put it into the freezer. All containers and zip lock bags in my freezer are labeled. Don’t think “oh, I will remember what this is”. In 4 weeks you look at a brown frozen container. Is it beans? is it soup? Is it beef stock? Maybe you are in the hospital unexpectedly and your husband is standing in front of the freezer, will he know what that brown container is? Label, label, label! It only takes a few seconds and you will know if that container is the one you put in there last week or 6 months ago. Also you know which containers are there the longest and should be used first. I use the 1″ tan masking tape and a sharpie for labeling items. Cheap and easy.
    These are my best ideas for not throwing food away.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      LOVE these, Linda, and you are SO right about labeling! I try and remember to add the date, too, but sometimes I forget all together.

  6. I like that you tackled this subject. It concerns us all, realize it or not! I love to compost. It’s so easy and I always have the compost to cut into my garden soil. Mainly, it’s eggshells, coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit peels/pits that won’t go to he landfill.

  7. So glad you got outside the box! What a wonderful posting. I have written down several things I’m going to try. Really like the pumpkin guts bread recipe; the toilet paper tubes filled with lint…can’t wait to try them. Thanks!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      I’m so happy that you found some new ideas and tips! I know I personally get SO excited about little “light bulb” ideas like these. Thanks, Mary!

  8. Good idea to include this kind of thing and I especially liked – “Mindful consuming, upcycling / secondhand shopping, and looking for ways to reduce waste all fall under the same umbrella.” Of course they do and when you put the statistics out there on how wasteful we are when it comes to food, we should all be conscious of it and do a better job. Great post!

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