Are you tired of throwing your money away on food waste? Groceries are a big expense for your family. Learn how to stretch your grocery budget.

How to Stretch your Grocery Budget and Use All the Food You Buy

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Are you tired of throwing your money away on food waste? Groceries are a big expense for your family. Learn how to stretch your grocery budget. Any way to save money right now is a big help!

chopped broccoli and sliced cherry tomatoes

How to Stretch Food Budget

There are tons of things we are throwing away every day that are useful, nutritious, and tasty. In America, we waste over 40% of the food that is grown for consumption. Forty percent folks, that’s no joke! We cannot continue to be such a wasteful society!

There are so many hungry people in this country and the food we are throwing away could help them thrive if we had one thing, transportation! The reason there are hungry people and people wasting in the same place is all a matter of getting the food to those that need it. We all need to do something thinking about how we could help those in need.

bowl full of stems, and scraps

Groceries on a budget

Many foods are wasted because they are ugly, not uniform sizes, have a mark on them or are otherwise unappealing to consumers in some way. This is a great place to start to cut down on food waste. I watched a Food Network special one time that showed how we wasted and I’ll tell ya, I was horrified and moved to tears.

There are people going hungry all around us. We need to take the resources we have and make them last. We need to use what we have to the best of our ability and make sure we save as much of our income as we can to help others who have nothing.

In the special, the chefs on the show were challenged to feed 100 people meals using nothing that could be bought. In many places it’s illegal to feed the hungry, did you know that?

You cannot just walk out onto the sidewalk and serve soup to hungry people. I am amazed by that. The chefs on the show had to go to the fields and glean produce that could not be sold, and most of it they were taking to the compost piles was perfectly good food. The show was life changing for me and for the chefs competing.

There are so many ways we can cut down on waste in our own kitchens and stretch your grocery budget, here are a few I want to share.

Food Scraps

Carrot tops: Did you know carrot tops and the greens of many plants are tasty and nutritious? You can cook them down like greens with some fat and seasoning, you can use them in stir fries, eat them raw in a salad, or just about any other way you can think of to eat greens, carrots can be eaten that way as well. This is a great way to stretch your grocery budget. You can even make pesto!

edible carrot tops in the garden

Cruciferous vegetable leaves: Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and the outer leaves of cabbages can be eaten as greens as well. The stems are also super tasty and can be cooked right along with the main part of the vegetable we are used to eating. Click here to see how I roast my veggies like broccoli.

Radish greens: The greens of radishes are a bit spicy and delicious in salads or cooked as well. You can also dehydrate them and use them for a nutritious green powder

Corn cobs: When you are processing a bushel of corn, don’t throw away those cobs! They can be boiled to get the last of the nutrition and flavor out and used in soups and chowders. Corn broth is AMAZING! (Don’t forget the husks can be used as well for wrapping tamales, making dolls or other old-fashioned crafts)

Tomato cores: If you take out the cores and pulp from the tomato for your recipe, don’t throw them away, juice them, blend them up and cook them down for sauce, save them in the freezer in a bag for the next time you make stock, they will add amazing flavor. This is a super easy way to stretch your grocery budget.

Vegetable skins: When you peel your carrots or potatoes, or other veggies or cut stems and other things off of them, save those in the freezer as well for making stock. You can fill a big stock pot with water, add your vegetable scraps and some seasonings, and boil it for 30 minutes to an hour. You will end up with an amazing stock for soups, stews, and sauces. Super yummy and you’re saving all of that stuff from the trash!

cutting board full of cucumber peels

That saves it from going to the landfill AND keeps more money in your pocket! Even if you have orange peels, lemon peels, grapefruit peels, or lime peels, you can boil them in water on the stove for a room freshener or you can steep them in vinegar for a couple of weeks to enhance the cleaning power of your vinegar. 

Apple cores and peels: Apple scraps can be fermented to make apple cider vinegar, click here to see how to make it. 

herb stems on a cutting board

Herb stems: Herb stems can be boiled in stock to add flavor. They can also be cooked in olive oil or butter and then removed before you add your other ingredients to the pan when starting a sauce, casserole, or stir-fry. They will flavor your oil and add a depth to it. 

onions growing in the garden

Onion tops: Onion tops can be saved and used to flavor cooking oil as well or thrown into stock. You can also slice up the green tops and use them in your recipe in place of green onions. 

Stretch your grocery dollars

Sweet potato vines: Sweet potato vines are edible. Instead of tossing them all way when you harvest your sweet potatoes, cut the leaves off the stems and cook them as greens. They are tender and delicious!

Garlic scapes: When you trim the scapes off of your hard neck garlic to encourage bulbing under the ground, don’t throw them away, chop them up and use them to flavor soups or sauces or stir-fry them and add texture and flavor to your dish.

Pepper cores: When you core your hot or sweet peppers to use in your recipe, save the cores and boil them up to add amazing flavor to your stock.

Watermelon rinds: You can pickle watermelon rinds. They are a tasty treat, click here to see how to pickle them.

Potato skins: Potato skins make a great snack, trim them from the potato thickly and bake them in the oven until done. Add some toppings like cheese, bacon, chives, or whatever you like and you have a delicious snack or side dish!

sweet potato peels on a cutting board

Vegetable skins and peels: Another thing you can do with your skins and peels is dehydrate them and grind them up in your blender. You can add them to dishes like soups and casseroles for added nutrition, use them as a thickener for sauces and soups, sprinkle them under pizza sauce to add vitamins and minerals to your pizza or use them in breads and cakes to add nutritional value to those goods. 

There are so many ways to preserve your food to make it last longer. Click here to see how to store fresh produce so it will last as long as possible. It’s easier than you think to cut down on food waste and stretch your grocery budget by using everything possible.

If all else fails and you cannot think of one single thing to reuse your scraps for. Please don’t send them to the landfill. Mix them with leaves or dried grass and compost them for enriching your yard or garden. How you do keep from wasting food at your house?

For more money saving ideas for food, check these out:

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  1. Wow, amazing suggestions! I knew many of these, but many were surprises, like sweet potato vines. If only I had the sun for growing sweet potatoes 🙂

    I’ve seen some tips on re-growing some scraps also, like the bottoms of lettuce heads and tops of pineapples. I know one homesteader who keeps her sweet potato slips as houseplants through the winter then plants them again the next summer.

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. One of the things I did yesterday, and you might have seen my Facebook post about it, is I juiced some home grown kale. When juicing there is a lot of pulp left behind that many would simply consider waste. I took that pulp and added it to my egg casserole dish that I made. Nothing goes to waste. (The eggshells went into the compost pile)

    1. I LOVE that! I saw an episode on the kitchen where they did stuff like that and they used their juice pulp to bake like a banana bread or zucchini bread. The egg casserole is a great idea too. Love it, thanks for sharing and reading. (and yes, i read your article on juicing kale, awesome!)

  3. I love the project idea for those chefs, what an inspiring project to show! I love all these tips and I love even more that they don’t cost any extra money to implement. Thanks for sharing!