8 ways to reduce food waste

Here’s how you can use a little kitchen magic to turn scraps and other leftovers into foodie treasure.

1. Cinnamon pumpkin seeds

Prepping pumpkin? Save the seeds to whip up a tasty snack.

Wash 1/2 cup fresh pumpkin seeds to remove any leftover membrane and pat dry. Place on a lined baking tray and stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out. Place in a bowl with 10g melted butter, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tbs caster sugar. Toss to coat. Spread onto a lined baking tray and bake at 160°C, stirring halfway through cooking, for 25-30 mins or until crisp. Set aside to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 

Cinnamon pumpkin seeds

2. Spinach jam

Turn leftover leafy greens into a great savoury topping for toast.

Heat 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan. Add 3 chopped spring onions, 1/2 bunch chopped flat-leaf parsley stalks and leaves and 4 crushed garlic cloves. Cook over low heat for 10 mins or until very soft. Add 120g baby spinach leaves (or any leftover leaves such as silverbeet, radicchio or kale). Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 mins or until the spinach is very soft and wilted. Stir in 1 tsp ground coriander and 1 finely chopped birdseye chilli (optional). Cook, stirring, for 1 min or until aromatic. Spoon the mixture onto a clean work surface and coarsely chop. Place in a bowl and stir in 1 tbs lemon juice and 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil.

Spoon onto toasted sourdough slices and sprinkle with crumbled marinated fetta. 

A spinach jam dish and two toasts with spinach jam and fetta on top

3. Veggie peel soup

Next time you’re peeling potatoes, sweet potatoes or parsnips, pop the peel into a sealable bag in the freezer as you go – then, once you have 100g of peel, make this soup.

Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add 1 chopped leek, 2 chopped carrots and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until the leek softens. Add 100g veggie peel. Cook, stirring, for 2 mins or until softened. Add 4 cups (1L) vegetable stock and 2 cups (500ml) water. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 mins or until the veggies are tender. Cool slightly. Blend until smooth. Place soup in the pan over low heat. Stir in 1/4 cup (60ml) thickened cream and cook for 2 mins or until heated through. Season.

A bowl of veggie peel soup with carrot shavings on the side

4. Avocado pancakes

Here’s a great way to use up that overripe avocado half in the fridge. Discard the stone and peel, then place flesh in a blender with 1 egg and 1 1/4 cups (310ml) buttermilk. Blend until smooth. Combine 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour and 1/2 tsp baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the avocado mixture. Cook 1/4-cup (60ml) portions of the batter in a non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat, brushing with a little melted butter as you go, for 2 mins each side or until golden and cooked through.

Serve with poached eggs, pesto, lemon wedges, flat-leaf parsley and baby spinach.

A stack of avocado pancakes with poached egg on top

5. Silverbeet stem pickles

If you only need silverbeet leaves in a recipe, save the stems for this.

Place sliced silverbeet stems in a sterilised jar with 1 halved long red chilli and 1 sliced garlic clove. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds. Cook, stirring, for 30 secs or until aromatic. Add to the jar. Bring 2 cups (500ml) white wine vinegar, 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar and 1 tbs salt to the boil in the pan. Pour into jar to cover stems. Seal. Store in the fridge for 1 week before using.

Enjoy pickles as part of a grazing platter.

Try this: swap silverbeet for watermelon rind (the white part of the melon). 

A jar of silverbeet stem pickles

6. Citrus dust rind

Before juicing oranges, lemons, limes or grapefruit, put the peel to good use for this zesty sprinkle. Wash the citrus well. Use a sharp knife to carefully remove the rind in strips and cut away any white pith. Discard the pith.

Place the rind on a lined baking tray. Bake at 120°C for 1 hour or until crisp. Cool. Process in a food processor until very finely crushed. Store in an airtight jar for up to 3 months.

Sprinkle over ice cream, stir into cake batter or use in creamy pasta sauce for a flavour boost.

Three kinds of citrus rind dust in yellow, green and orange colour

7. Vanilla sugar

What do you do with the leftover vanilla bean when you’ve scraped out the seeds for a dish? Simple – use it to make vanilla sugar.

Place scraped vanilla bean on a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 10 mins or until crisp, then process in a food processor with 1 tbs caster sugar until finely ground. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and discard solids. Mix with another 1 cup (220g) caster sugar. Store in an airtight container and use in baking.

Try this: add more caster sugar to your vanilla sugar as you use it. Store dried vanilla beans in the sugar for extra flavour.

A bowl of vanilla sugar on a baking pan

8. Smart ways with celery

The dark green outer leaves and stems can be tough, but they’re full of flavour. Use chopped stems to make stock or add leaves to the mix when making pesto.

The pale green stems and leaves also have lots of flavour. Chop them and use in stir-fries and soups, or thinly slice them and toss into salads.

The inner pale green, almost yellow stems are mild and tender. They’re perfect for snacking, and the leaves make a nice garnish too.

Three celery leaves in different lengths