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More Taste, Less Waste: 23 Simple Yet Genius Cooking Tips

This list of easy cooking tips will help you make the most of your ingredients and reduce food waste in the kitchen. Save money, waste less, and cook better!
More Taste, Less Waste: 23 Simple Yet Genius Cooking Tips
More Taste, Less Waste: 23 Simple Yet Genius Cooking Tips
Anna at SideChef
Content Creator. Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.
Love This Recipe?
Anna at SideChef
Content Creator. Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.

Do you ever feel like wasting food and not getting the most out of your ingredients? Well, you're not alone. There's always a way to make things better when it comes to cooking. And we all could learn more ways to cook efficiently and reduce food waste.

We have compiled 23 simple cooking tips anyone could use to maximize the flavors, minimize waste, and save money. You don’t need special equipment or complicated cooking techniques to master these downright genius kitchen hacks!

1. Never Throw Away Parmesan Rinds

Many seasoned cooks and chefs know the power of parmesan rinds. Don’t get rid of this “food scrap.” Instead, use parmesan rinds to add umami to stews, sauces, and risottos.

Add parmesan rinds to your soups and broths, and let the cheese release all of its flavors and enrich them.

Let the rinds simmer and remove them from your dish before serving.

2. Make the Most of Citrus Peels


You can use lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits, and the rest of the citrus fruit family in their entirety. In fact, the peels contain some of the most precious nutrients, like Vitamin C and fiber.

There are several ways you can get the most out of your citrus peels:

  • Make candied peels. You can have candied citrus peels as a snack, use them as a garnish for mixed drinks, or add them to desserts and baked goods.

    To make candied peels, you must remove most white fiber. Cut the peels into strips and boil in water for 10-15 minutes. Remove them from the heat, drain and rinse in cold water.

    In a saucepan, make sugar syrup by mixing 1 part water and 1 part sugar and bringing it to a boil.

    Once the sugar is dissolved, place the peels in the syrup, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 30-45 minutes until the peels are soft.

    Toss the candied peels in more sugar and let them dry.

  • Freeze or dry zest to use later. If a recipe calls for any citrus juice, zest the peel before juicing. You can dry the zest or freeze it in ice cube trays, and safe to use whenever you need it.

  • Zest up any beverage. Add fresh citrus peels to your tea, infuse your drinking water, or spice up a cocktail.

3. Don’t Throw Away Stale Bread


Put stale bread to use by making some homemade fresh or dried breadcrumbs and croutons.

4. Buy A Whole Chicken

It’s easy to purchase any part of the chicken you need for a recipe, all cut and prepped for you, but if you want to get the most out of this popular protein, consider purchasing a whole bird. You can always roast the entire bird or cut it up yourself.

There are several advantages to buying a whole chicken:

  • You save money
    Whole chickens are several dollars cheaper per pound compared to separately packaged chicken parts. If you use the whole bird efficiently, you will get good value for your money.

  • You plan versatile meals
    If you roast a whole chicken, you only get one dish and possibly some chicken stock. When you cut the chicken into parts, you will get 8 separate pieces: 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, and 2 wings. You can plan a different chicken recipe for each part - fun diverse meals.

  • Make chicken stock
    After you carved the chicken, you will be left with the carcass, which you can turn into some rich homemade chicken stock. Chicken stock is a base for soups, stews, and sauces; it is a fantastic flavor agent for pasta and risotto dishes. You can easily freeze it using ice-cube trays and have it on hand when needed.

  • Improve your cooking skills
    Cutting up a whole chicken and using every part efficiently makes you a better cook. You improve your knife skills and take your cooking to a new level. It will also motivate you to try new dishes more often.

5. Use Vegetable Scraps To Make Stock


Don’t throw away any leftover vegetables or scraps, but make a homemade vegetable stock instead.

If you cook a meal every day and don’t produce much waste each time, save the veggie scraps in a ziplock bag and freeze until you have enough to make a flavorful broth. You can also use the veggies that are about to go bad and need to be used right away.

You can save most of your vegetable scraps for stock:

  • Carrot: skin, root, tips.

  • All kinds of onions: roots, tops, skins.

  • Leeks: green tops.

  • Garlic: skins and trimmed parts.

  • Celery.

  • Winter squash: any parts of winter squash you don’t use.

  • Corn cobs.

  • Mushroom stems.

  • Herb stems.

  • Leafy greens.

  • Bell peppers: tops and seeds.

The list goes on and on. To make a vegetable stock, place your scraps into a pot, cover with water, add a bay leaf, bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve and use it whenever necessary. You can store it in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze it for up to 4 months.

6. Don’t Throw Away Potato Peels


Potato Peel Chips


Don't trash potato skins - Potato Peel Chips are a great way to use leftover potato peels. Crispy, crunchy, salty, and zero waste. Make sure you wash the potatoes thoroughly before making the chips.

7. Use The Last Of Your Jams And Jellies

Don’t rush to throw it away when you have just a little jam left in the jar. One of the best ways to use leftover jam is making a homemade salad dressing right in the jar. Add some vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe a fresh herb into the jar and shake it - delicious zero-waste homemade dressing ready in minutes.

8. Use Every Part Of The Shrimp


If you’re a fan of this delicious crustacean, you need to utilize every part of it and extract all its flavor. Shrimp flavor is not just in its tail; you can get even more umami from the heads and the shells.

Make Shrimp Stock

For homemade shrimp stock, you only need a handful of ingredients:

  • Shrimp shells

  • Water

  • Aromatics (optional)

  • Salt and Pepper

  • White wine (optional

Lightly toast the shells and heads on a skillet to extract more flavor. Transfer them into a pot filled with water, add a roughly chopped onion and a couple of garlic cloves if you’d like, bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour—season to taste, and add a generous splash of white wine in the last minutes of cooking.

When the stock is off the heat, strain it through a fine mesh sieve and allow it to cool. You can refrigerate it for up to 3 days or store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Shrimp stock turns out incredibly flavorful. You can use it in seafood chowder, gumbo, seafoor risotto, jambalaya, and many other dishes.

Make Shrimp Oil

Shrimp oil is a thing every chef or savvy home cook knows about. It is not only a genius way to efficiently use the ingredient but also a fantastic way to add richness to many savory dishes.

For homemade shrimp oil, you will need shrimp heads and vegetable oil. Heat the oil in a saucepan and carefully add in your shrimp heads. Once they turn nice pink color and all the liquid evaporates, turn the heat off. Remove the shrimp heads from the oil (we can use them further), strain the oil, and transfer it into your storage container. Shrimp oil should be a beautiful orange color.

You can store it in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it into portion-sized cubes using an ice tray. Shrimp oil is a delicious umami agent you can add to any savory dish that can use an extra level of flavor.

Make Shrimp Paste

Don’t discard the fried shrimp heads after you make the shrimp oil. Instead, use them to make shrimp paste - a magical umami-packed secret ingredient you can add to any savory dish for a deeper multi-layered flavor.

To make shrimp paste, you will need the following:

  • Fried shrimp heads

  • Garlic

  • Soy sauce

  • Salt

  • Shrimp oil

Place the fried shrimp heads in a mortar and crush them together with a couple of cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt (alternatively, you can use a food processor). Gradually add some soy sauce and a couple of tablespoons of shrimp oil. Keep crushing and mixing the ingredients until it looks like a loose paste (add more oil if needed). Push it through a fine mesh sieve and store it in the fridge.

9. Freeze Leftover Herbs In Oil Or Butter


Freeze the excess of rosemary, thyme, cilantro or any other aromatic herb in olive oil or clarified butter. Simply fill an ice tray with chopped herbs, add the oil, and place in the freezer. These aromatic ice cubes are full of flavor and can come in handy when you are making soups, stews, salads, stir-fries, sauces, pasta, and rice dishes.

10. Pickle Watermelon Rinds


Pickled watermelon rinds are a great way to use up every part of the watermelon. They taste slightly acidic and sweet with a delightful crunch. Pickled watermelon rinds work great in slaws and salads, as a bruschetta topping, or just by themselves. Pickling the watermelon rinds is a great zero-waste recipe using peels that would otherwise go to waste.

11. Freeze Sauces And Stocks


Use different ice cube trays to freeze all your leftover sauces and stocks.

To save space, reduce your stocks to a potent concentrate before you freeze them; you can pop the frozen cubes into a ziplock bag and always have homemade stock on hand. Use larger ice cube trays for thick sauces like marinara or pesto.

12. Don’t Get Rid Of Aquafaba


The liquid from garbanzo beans or chickpeas is also known as aquafaba. It got the name from Latin words for ‘water’ - ‘aqua,’ and ‘beans’ - ‘faba.’

Aquafaba was accidentally discovered by a vegan community and is an excellent vegan-friendly egg substitute. Because it acts as an egg white, it can be used in many recipes that call for it, like
vegan mayo, aquafaba meringue, chocolate mousse, and many other desserts.

In general, you can replace eggs with aquafaba in any recipe - substitute one whole egg with 3 tbsp of aquafaba.

13. Make Your Own Vanilla Extract


Don’t throw away vanilla bean pods after you have scraped out the seeds. Instead, get even more flavor out by making a homemade vanilla extract.

You need vodka, vanilla pods, and a sealable jar to DIY vanilla extract. Simply place your used pods in a jar, cover it with vodka, seal and put it in a dark place. The extract should be ready to use in five to six weeks, but the longer you leave it, the more infused vodka will get. You can add more used pods to the jar whenever you have them.

14. Roast Pumpkin Seeds


Don’t waste seeds from pumpkins or any other type of winter squash. Instead, learn how to roast them and have a healthy, delicious snack on hand at all times. Here’s a step-by-step guide to roasted pumpkin seeds to help.

15. Use Leftover Corn Cobs For Stock

When you're done scraping the kernels from your cob, make corn stock. Corn stock works wonders in chowders and can add an extra layer of flavor to cooked grains like rice, polenta, and quinoa.

Put the leftover cobs in a pot, cover it with water, and add some simple seasonings and an optional bay leaf. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and continue to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Take off the heat, remove the cobs, strain, and use when necessary. Like all stocks, corn stock can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for up to 3 months.

16. Save Pickle Brine

Don’t be hasty to get rid of pickle brine from store-bought pickles. You can reuse it to brine a new batch of pickles.

You can also add pickle brine to sauces like tartar or mayo for some extra zest, or take your Bloody Mary recipe to a whole new level.

17. Use Day-Old Rice For Stir Fries

There’s something special about dehydrated rice grains that takes the fried rice texture to the next level. Once the rice grains separate in your fried rice, it provides a fluffy texture rather than mushy fried rice. If you want to make fried rice like a pro, you should purposefully cook the rice one day ahead to have leftover rice to use.

18. Use The Very Last Of Your Peanut Butter


When you can’t spoon out any peanut butter from the bottom of the jar, there are still a couple of delicious things you can do with it.

  • Make a bottom-of-the-jar peanut sauce
    Depending on how much peanut butter you have left, add some soy sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, chili flakes, and a tablespoon of hot water directly into the peanut butter jar. Close the lid and shake vigorously. You can pour the peanut sauce over some cold noodles or use it as a dipping sauce for the chicken.

  • Make a shaken peanut butter espresso
    This delicious nutty coffee drink is a great way to start your day. Add a shot of espresso to the peanut butter jar, give it a good shake, and add some milk (or your preferred milk substitute) and honey to taste. Stir it up and enjoy!

19. Save Olive Juice From The Jar

You can add olive juice to sauces and marinades for an extra burst of flavor. And don’t forget that it is a must-have ingredient in a classic Dirty Martini.

20. Reserve Leafy Green Stalks And Stems For Soups

Vegetable stems from kale, collards, or swiss chard might be too rough for salads, but they taste wonderful in soups. Add them into your veggie mix for thin, minestrone-style, or pureed soups. These leafy greens are not only full of nice earthy flavors but are also loaded with fiber, vitamins, and nutrients.

21. Make Bacon From Banana Peels


Vegan Banana Peel Bacon

Lauren Holdcroft at SideChef

Make vegan-friendly bacon using banana peels - it’s chewy, crispy, and smoky! Perfect with banana pancakes, banana splits, or crumbled onto a salad.

22. Freeze Egg Whites

Many recipes like hollandaise sauce, Carbonara, mayonnaise, or creme brulee call for egg yolks. So what can you do with all the leftover egg whites? Freeze them!

Freeze your leftover egg whites in individual ice cube trays. Thaw them overnight in the fridge and use them the same way you’d use fresh egg whites.

23. Use Old Wine As Vinegar

Think twice before pouring old wine down the drain. You can cook with old wine, adding it to stews or risottos - it will still work well and add the needed acidity.

Use old wine the same way as vinegar in salad dressings, vinaigrettes, sauces, and marinades.

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