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whole foods including carrots, cucumbers and peppers using leftovers for new healthy dishes

What About Upcycling Food?

  blog post author icon   blog post published date icon   07/01/23

Cooking  Nutrition  

As prices soar, more and more people are talking about upcycling food. This process can help you reduce food waste, save money, and continue to eat a healthy diet.

However, many people need to take advantage of it. Please keep reading to learn more about what upcycling food is and the benefits of it.

Every year there's so much food wasted in the United States that it could create an additional 130 billion meals. That's a lot of food and a lot of money that could go back into your wallet.

What Is Upcycling Food?

Upcycling food is a creative approach to reducing food waste by transforming ingredients that would typically be discarded into new and delicious dishes. It's all about finding innovative ways to repurpose leftover fruits, vegetables, grains, and other edible items that might otherwise end up in the trash.

Unlike recycling, which involves breaking down materials for reprocessing, upcycling focuses on adding value to the original product. Instead of simply turning scraps into compost or animal feed (which are still great options!), upcycling takes it a step further by reinventing these overlooked ingredients into tasty and nutritious meals.

Think of it as giving your leftovers a second chance at culinary glory! You can turn wilted greens into pesto or overripe fruit into jams by harnessing your creativity and experimenting with different flavor combinations. The possibilities are endless!

Not only does upcycling food help reduce waste and conserve resources, but it also encourages us to think outside the box when it comes to cooking. It challenges us to find the hidden potential in every ingredient and inspires us to get more adventurous in the kitchen.

Upcycled Food Benefits

Upcycling food sounds like a lot of work. So why do it? When it comes to upcycled food, numerous benefits make this practice worth considering.

Reduce Waste

First and foremost, upcycling food helps reduce waste and minimize the amount of food in landfills. By repurposing ingredients or using parts of produce that would typically be discarded, we can contribute to a more sustainable approach to food consumption.

Save Money

Additionally, upcycling food can help save money by using ingredients that might have otherwise been thrown away. This benefits not only individuals and families on a tight budget but also restaurants and businesses looking to cut costs without compromising quality.

Get Creative in the Kitchen

Upcycling food allows us to tap into our creativity in the kitchen. It encourages experimentation with different flavors and textures while challenging us to think outside the box regarding meal planning.

Added Nutritional Value

Upcycled foods often provide nutritional value despite being made from leftover or unconventional ingredients. For example, banana peels aren't just for tripping up your foes in cartoons anymore.

Researchers have found that you can take the peels and turn them into a powder. You can then add this to your baking, adding nutritional value to your favorite cookies or other treats.

How to Upcycle Food

So, how can you get started with upcycling food? Here are some simple tips:

Get Creative With Leftovers

Instead of throwing away those leftover fruits, vegetables, or meats, consider incorporating them into other dishes. For example, leftover roasted vegetables can be turned into a hearty soup or added to a frittata.

You can add more veggies and rice and stir fry.

Scraps Aren't Useless

Don't toss out vegetable peels or herb stems! These "scraps" can make flavorful stocks or infused oils. You can also turn stale bread into breadcrumbs or croutons.

Save Your Fruits and Veggies Before They Spoil

If you have excess fruits or veggies on the verge of spoiling, consider preserving them. You can use techniques like pickling, fermenting, or making jams and chutneys.

Imperfect Produce Is Your Friend

Let's be honest; no one wants the less-than-perfect produce at the grocery store. However, that's the produce that often gets picked over because it is imperfect.

Many grocery stores now sell "ugly" produce at discounted prices. Take advantage of this and use these imperfect fruits and vegetables for baking, juicing, or blending into smoothies.

Meal Planning for the Win

How often have you allowed your food to go bad because you didn't plan? Meal planning can help eliminate this. By planning your meals ahead of time and using up what you already have in your pantry and fridge, you'll minimize food waste and save money, too!

Upcycled Food Recipes

Now that you understand the concept of upcycling food and its benefits let's delve into some mouth-watering upcycled food recipes! These recipes help reduce food waste and allow you to get creative in the kitchen.

Banana Peel Bacon

Yes, you read that right! You can do more than add banana peel dust to your baking.

Banana peels can be transformed into a delicious vegan alternative to bacon. Marinate banana peels in soy sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Then bake them until crispy for a savory and smoky treat.

Carrot Top Pesto

Don't toss those carrot tops (We're not talking about the comedian)! Instead, turn them into a flavorful pesto by blending them with the following:

  • Garlic, nuts (such as pine nuts or almonds)
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast for a vegan option)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Use this vibrant pesto on pasta or as a sandwich spread.

Stale Bread Croutons

When your bread starts to go stale, don't throw it away! Cut it into bite-sized cubes and toss with olive oil, herbs (like oregano or thyme), salt, and pepper.

Bake until golden brown for crunchy croutons, perfect for salads or soups.

Vegetable Scrap Broth

Save all your vegetable scraps, such as onion skins, carrot ends/peels, and celery leaves to make homemade broth. Simmer these scraps with water and seasonings like bay leaves and peppercorns for an aromatic base that can be used in recipes like soups or stews.

Put Your Health First With NuMedica

Upcycling food is a sustainable and innovative solution to reducing food waste and building a more environmentally friendly future. By transforming surplus or imperfect ingredients into new, delicious creations, we can minimize our ecological footprint and maximize our resources.

Are you looking for more ways to enhance your health? Check out our supplements and experience the difference.

headshot of Jay Todtenbier 2018

Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.

Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.

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