Frugal Living: Find more uses, waste less of the food you have |

Frugal Living: Find more uses, waste less of the food you have

Sara Noel

When prepping meals, do you throw a lot away? Often, we toss out potato or orange peels. Or maybe you don’t use the entire broccoli and eat only the florets. These can be eaten. Think: Potato skins and candied orange peels. And broccoli stalks? You can peel the woody stem with a vegetable peeler. Chop and use in stir-fries, casseroles, as a pizza topping, or in soup, sauces or casseroles. Or grate it and add it to meatloaf.

Here are more ways to use more of what you have.

PLANT IT: As child, you might have grown a sweet potato plant in a glass of water. The tuber’s eyes grow slips, and the slips can be removed, rooted and planted outside. You can plant avocado pits, carrot tops, green onions and the top from a fresh pineapple, too. One reader, Christine, from Canada, says: “I started some herbs on my windowsill this year. After doing some research on what one can grow in containers, other than herbs, I came across an article that told me I could plant a single garlic clove in some dirt and it would eventually grow into a whole garlic clove. So I did! And it’s been growing just fine. But one day I took a look at the long shoot that sprung from the top of it and wondered if all it was worth was looking at. So I did some more research and learned that the green shoot is edible. Apparently it is quite popular in Asian countries but not used widely in North America. I cut off the shoot and chopped it up to throw in my soup. Mmm. Frugal cooking at its best! It gave a nice smooth garlic flavor to my soup and it didn’t harm the plant to cut it off. Another shoot sprang up two days later.”

FRUIT PEELS AND CORES: Boil, then put into cheesecloth and strain for their juices. Use in baking or to make jelly. Apple and pear cores and peels can be used to make apple or pear sauce or apple or pear butter. For recipes, visit

PLAN YOUR GARDEN: Consider planting produce that creates less waste. For example, when growing and harvesting celery, use it all. Cut the leaves off and dry them. Once dry, crumble and use on roasts and in soups and stews.

Another reader, Judi from New Hampshire, adds: “There are plants that you can plant in which you use all of it: Chives, turnips and beets are the most obvious. What about parsley stems? They taste like parsley and are edible, but they aren’t as pretty as the leaves. I grow root parsley, and it reseeds itself every year.”

Whether you grow corn or buy it, you can use the husks to make cornhusk dolls. For instructions visit


With the cobs you can cover them with peanut butter and bird seed and make a bird feeder, boil them with other vegetable peels and make a vegetable stock for soups, or dry them to use as fire starter.

For recipes to make corncob, dandelion and peach pit jelly, watermelon rind preserves and ways to eat your “weeds,” visit my site at


NATURAL DYES: Many plants, roots, nuts and flowers can be used to make natural dyes for material. For example, onion skins can make orange dye, spinach leaves can make green dye, and basil can make purplish gray dye. Visit www.

.html for a large list of plants available to make dyes by simply boiling the plants with water and letting it simmer.

• Sara Noel is the owner of http://www.frugal, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail sara@frugal