We're all looking for ways to save a couple of bucks, but one place where it's always hard to cut back is with our food budget. There's just no getting around it, we have to spend money to eat. But, there are many ways to save when it comes to groceries, aside from coupon clipping and bargain shopping.
One of our favorite ways to save money on food is by making the most of our kitchen scraps. Almost every time we cook a meal a lot of kitchen scraps get tossed. 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. Or can even be used around the house.
We're not just talking about using your vegetable scraps to make stock -- though that is a great idea. We've gotten way more creative than that. Check out how to save money on your kitchen scraps below. And let us know if you have any good tricks too!
Use corn cobs for a base to make a silky corn soup. When you simmer cobs in a pot of water, they release a milky "corn juice" that can add a deeper flavor than most chicken stock. Try it with this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/corn-chowder_n_1056611.html" target="_hplink">corn chowder recipe</a>.
If you make homemade pickles, you should know that you can reuse your brine. Once you've eaten your batch of pickled vegetables, save the juice and throw in new vegetables. It's double the pickles for the same amount of brine.
When your <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/broccoli-slaw_n_1048994.html" target="_hplink">potato chips</a> 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 bread crumbs.
Don't think you're done with that watermelon just because you've eaten it. The rinds are edible too. <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pickled-watermelon-rinds/" target="_blank">Pickle them and you'll see</a>.
Banana Peels Shine Shoes
Out of shoe polish? Next time you snack on a banana, use the peel to shine your shoes. Just <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2011/08/17/10-reuse-ideas-for-food-scraps/5/" target="_hplink">rub the inside of a banana peel</a> on your leather shoes, and buff off with a soft cloth.
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.
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. <a href="http://laughinglemonpie.com/12-creative-ways-to-use-up-vegetable-scraps-sustainable-eating-no-1/" target="_blank">Use the juice</a> in soups (or for making the best Bloody Marys).
Cucumber peels can do wonders for your skin. Add them to your bath and their <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2011/08/17/10-reuse-ideas-for-food-scraps/3/" target="_hplink">cooling properties will sooth dry, itchy or irritated skin</a>. And for a fresh scent, also add grapefruit peels.
Leftover rice is rarely appetizing -- especially if it's been a few days. But there's no need to throw it out. You can <a href="http://birding.about.com/od/birdfeeders/a/kitchenscraps.htm" target="_hplink">use it to feed birds </a>rather than buying bird seed.
Most of us use the broccoli florets and throw out the stems, but these stems can be used to make a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/broccoli-slaw_n_1048994.html" target="_hplink">refreshing summer slaw</a>. Ever notice that the grocery store sells bags of slaw? It's often times made with broccoli stems.
How many times have you found a half of a lemon withered away in the back of your fridge? Don't waste that citrus. Next time you only need half (and you don't think you'll be using the other anytime soon) put the leftover to work on your stovetop. <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2011/08/17/10-reuse-ideas-for-food-scraps/9/ " target="_hplink">Lemon does wonders</a> on getting out pasta sauce stains.
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 <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/09/how-to-make-compound-butter_n_1654505.html?1341838864" target="_hplink">compound butter</a> with the herbs or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/freeze-herbs-olive-oil_n_1665706.html" target="_blank">freezing them in olive oil</a> to cook with later is a great way to get the most use out of your basil, cilantro or parsley.
Bread is one of those basic ingredients that we almost always have in our kitchens, and we often throw out the last couple of slices that have gone stale. But you don't have to waste them. Use those stale pieces to make croutons, bread crumbs or even <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/bread-pudding-recipes_n_1154605.html" target="_blank">bread pudding</a>.
If you didn't finish that opened bottle of wine fast enough, you can still use it to cook with. Wine has the ability to enhance dishes with a complexity of flavor. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/recipes-with-wine_n_1137289.html" target="_hplink">Check out these recipes </a>for some ideas.
Dry your leftover orange peels (either by baking in the oven at a low temperature or leaving out on a flat surface for a couple of days) and use them in black teas to add a little brightness. You can also zest and freeze orange peels to use in later recipes.
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.
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.
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.)
Potato Peels Make Great Snacks
If you have trouble deciding between french fries or potato chips, these will be your ideal snack. After peeling a potato, don't throw out the scraps -- <a href="http://www.gilttaste.com/stories/5310-reveal-the-appeal-of-potato-peels" target="_hplink">fry them</a>, and top with salt and paprika.
Just like fresh herbs, celery is another one of those items that many of us buy to make just one recipe and then forget about it in the fridge. Before that happens, chop up the remaining celery and freeze it. Next time you need just a few stalks, you'll have it on hand. (You can do this with many other vegetables too.)
You can have your morning cup of coffee and fertilize your plants at the same time. Plants need the nitrogen and minerals found in used coffee grounds. Start slowly by mixing just one tablespoon to potted plants and one cup to gardens. It's a good idea to <a href="http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/fertilize-plants-kitchen-scraps.htm" target="_hplink">dry the grounds before using them</a> so there's no possibility of mold.
Lemon peels can whiten your teeth. Just cut a <a href="http://www.essortment.com/natural-ways-whiten-teeth-60147.html" target="_hplink">wedge piece of a lemon peel</a> and place it on your teeth. Leave the peel against the teeth for about fifteen minutes and then rinse. It's important to remember to rinse because the citric acid in the lemon is powerful stuff. Of course, talk to your dentist before trying this.
You can use leftover apple cores and peels to make jelly. And the best part is, you don't need to add pectin because apples contain their own. Get the<a href="http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=275484.0" target="_hplink"> recipe on Crafster</a>.
Yep, egg shells have another use too. Crush up shells and <a href="http://housewifehowtos.com/save-money/10-kitchen-scraps-you-should-reuse/" target="_blank">use them as fertilizer</a> in your garden (they've got loads of calcium). They also help keep away slugs. You can also throw them in the garbage disposal as a way to clean it up. Or you can even <a href="http://www.ehow.com/how_2083921_make-eggshell-chalk.html" target="_blank">make chalk</a> out of egg shells if you're crafty.
Apple peels can be a valuable kitchen cleaning product. The <a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/decorating/natural-cleaners/index.html" target="_hplink">acid in apple peels can remove stains </a>and discoloration from aluminum pots and pans. Fill the pan in question with water, add apple peels, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
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 (which <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/07/tamales-recipe-holiday_n_2253221.html" target="_blank">we highly recommend</a>) or to wrap fish or other fresh seafood in before grilling.
If you're just throwing out your chicken bones, you're making a huge mistake. You should use those bones to make chicken stock. Not only will it save you money, but it'll be the best chicken stock you've ever had.
Potatoes know how to get those hard-to-remove mud stains out of your clothes. If you have half a potato laying around, rub it on mud stains before putting in the wash. The <a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/decorating/natural-cleaners/index.html" target="_hplink">starch helps to remove</a> and break down mud.