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Reduce Your Food Waste: How to 'Compleat' 9 Kitchen Staples

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Reduce Your Food Waste: How to 'Compleat' 9 Kitchen Staples

Eat & Drink

Author Ellen Tout shares how to reduce food waste with common fruits and vegetables by 'compleating.' Here are her top tips and hacks.

Francesca Brooking

Wed 1 Sept 2021

Ellen Tout, author of An A-Z of Zero-Waste Eating For the Mindful Vegan, explains how to reduce food waste and make the most of common fruits and vegetables in your kitchen by ‘compleating.’

Food waste plays a big role in the climate crisis.

In fact, it’s responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

But there’s so much you can do right from your kitchen because 70% of the food we waste from our homes could have been eaten.

What is compleating?

To compleat means to eat all edible parts of fruits, vegetables and herbs – adding more nutrition, variety and fun to your cooking, whilst saving money and reducing food waste.

How to Compleat 9 Kitchen Staples and Reduce Food Waste

Book cover with a drawing of a radish

1. Apple

Excluding the seeds, apples are delicious baked whole with cinnamon and ginger, served warm with ice cream.

Apple skin peelings can be steeped in hot water with a little cinnamon to make a natural, waste-free tea.

Or bake the peelings with a little sugar and cinnamon on a low heat until crispy to enjoy as a sweet snack or to add to granola.

Apple cores and peelings can even be fermented with a little sugar and water to make your own apple cider vinegar, perfect for dressings or baking.

2. Banana

Who doesn’t love banana bread?

It’s perfect for saving old brown bananas from going to waste. But did you know, you can also use banana peels for baking?

Simmer and blend the nutrient-rich skins to mash into your favourite cake recipe.

Banana peels can also be marinated as a tasty alternative to meat to create dishes such as banana peel ‘bacon’, banana peel and bean burgers and barbeque pulled banana peel.

Apples turned out of a basket for compleating

Make a cosy dessert of baked apples ginger, cinnamon and a good helping of ice cream

3. Broccoli

There’s no need to discard your broccoli stalk.

It’s full of as much goodness as the florets, plus the extra fibre, and can be prepared in the same way.

Try a compleat greens stir-fry with broccoli florets, sliced broccoli stalk and other unloved offcuts, such as shredded cauliflower leaves or kale stalks.

Broccoli stalk is also great chopped through a salad, simmered into a ramen or sliced into batons and rolled with other vegetables in rice paper to create Vietnamese-style summer rolls.

4. Carrot

We often only see carrots trimmed and packaged so you’d be forgiven for forgetting they even have leafy tops!

When preparing your carrots, there’s no need to peel them – just give them a scrub.

If you can source them with the tops, these are full of vitamins and minerals. Carrot tops can be used similarly to fresh herbs and taste a bit like parsley.

Try making a carrot top pesto by blending them with walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to taste.

Carrot tops are also delicious blended into soup, chopped over salad, as a garnish or shredded through a tabbouleh.

Riverford's Indian Masala Roast Carrots with Coconut Red Lentils Recipe

Colourful carrots and tops

If you can, try to source carrots with the leafy tops

5. Cauliflower

Did you know the whole cauliflower is edible and wonderfully versatile.

The stalk can be cubed and eaten raw or cooked, as you would the florets.

Try incorporating it into a cauliflower cheese, stir-fry, kimchi or salad. Cauliflower is also delicious roasted whole or in wedges with seasoning or a marinade.

Cauliflower leaves can be used in many ways.

Try them chopped through a salad or stir-fry, sauteed with garlic and served on toast or stirred through creamy mashed potatoes.

Or make them the star of your dish by making stuffed cauliflower leaves, filled with herby cauli rice made from the florets and stalk.

6. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are tasty added to stews, curries, soups, salads, falafels, hummus and more.

But what about the aquafaba, or bean water, from a can of chickpeas?

Don’t waste this magical liquid – aquafaba is the perfect plant-based alternative to eggs in many dishes.

Try whipping your aquafaba and folding in cooled melted chocolate to create a mousse.

It can also be used to create meringue, mayonnaise, marshmallows, or vegan butter.

You can even use aquafaba instead of eggs in fresh homemade pasta.

Cauliflower, broccoli and veg in a basket

Cauliflower is a wonderfully versatile vegetable

7. Onion and garlic

Every cook loves onion and garlic, but there’s no need to discard the papery skins.

Onion and garlic skins have anti-inflammatory properties and can be incorporated into broths and baking when you grind them up.

Try adding one teaspoon of ground onion and/or garlic skins to bread, such as a caramelised onion focaccia, for an added boost of colour and goodness.

Also, try steeping onion and/or garlic skins when you cook your rice to infuse the grain with extra nutrients.

The simplest way to use up your onion and garlic skins is a homemade stock, perfect for cooking things like soups and stews.

Store your onion and garlic skins in a tub in the freezer with other vegetable offcuts.

Once you have enough to fill a large saucepan, empty the contents into the pan and pour in enough water to fill it.

Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes to create an aromatic broth full of goodness.

Remove from the heat and carefully strain the stock into heatproof containers.

The vegetables can now be composted, and the cooled stock can be stored in the fridge for around a week.

Check out our Sustainable Recipes section for more recipe ideas.

Potato, garlic, onion and herbs for compleating

Get creative with the papery skins from garlic and onions

8. Potato

Most root vegetables don’t need peeling, just a good scrub, and potatoes are no exception.

If your potatoes are old and wrinkly, or you have a pile of peelings, try simmering them into soup, such as classic leek and potato.

Potatoes are delicious roasted, boiled or mashed with the skins on, but if you do peel your potatoes then make yourself some tasty peel crisps.

Toss the peelings in a little oil and season with salt, pepper and optional garlic powder.

Spread evenly on a tray and bake at 180°C for 10 minutes until crispy.

You’ll never waste peelings again!

9. Squash and pumpkin

The flesh, skin and seeds of squash and pumpkins are edible and delicious. Perfect for soup, curry, stew, pie, muffins and more. The seeds, which we often throw away, are a good source of protein and nutrients.

Try making a spiced soup from the unpeeled flesh and topping it with roasted seasoned seeds.

To roast the seeds, rinse off any pulp and coat in a little oil and seasoning, such as smoked paprika. Bake on a tray at 180°C for 10 minutes until toasted.

Delicious as a snack or garnish. Peeled pumpkin or squash skins are also great cooked in the same way.

Or try Tom Hunt’s Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins Recipe.

A selection of squash and pumpkin

Use the whole squash including the skin and seeds

For more food waste and compleating tips, advice and recipes, follow Ellen Tout @compleatly_vegan on Instagram and @Ellen_Tout on Twitter.

The Complete Book of Vegan Compleating: An A–Z of Zero-Waste Eating For the Mindful Vegan by Ellen Tout is available to order. Click here to get it now.

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