Food Scraps to Cold Weather Comfort

This was originally an email to subscribers during Offline October. Want to get in on the fun? Sign up for emails here: CLICK HERE TO GET EMAILS!

It is freezing outside right now. Literally.

Well, okay, maybe not literally. The Weather Channel app tells me that it’s warmed up to 37 degrees by this point, but it still feels like 32. And it bottomed out at 31 last night, so close enough.

Anyway, this swift change from 80 to 30 has my body reeling a bit, and I’m taking the opportunity to stay inside and warm up with some fall cooking and baking. But of course, doing it the Living Lightly way!

Did you know that food waste decomposing in landfills is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions? Using up the food you have instead of throwing it away is a simple way you can fight climate change.

Here’s how I’m doing it; try some of these yourself!

Here are some fun things I’m cooking up this week: 
1. Banana Bread. My kids swear up and down that they want bananas. So I buy them, and as soon as we get home they eat one. And then they refuse the rest, and I roll my eyes and let them brown for banana bread. I use the tried and true recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, but there’s a million out there. Add chocolate chips or walnuts or whatever you like, and enjoy a yummy breakfast with those bananas that would otherwise rot away.

2. Use up sad-looking veggies in soup or sauce. I have a bunch of green peppers and tomatoes that have lost some of their crunch. That wrinkling makes them look less pretty, but it doesn’t make them any less edible. However, I wouldn’t recommend the texture for eating raw, so I chop them up and cook them. Obviously, I toss the moldy ones in my compost, but otherwise, in the pot they go. Peppers, onions, tomatoes, and carrots will all be hopping in a pot to make tomato sauce in my house this week. I’ll use it for spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, or chili this winter. (It freezes beautifully, or it can be canned) And speaking of chili, that’s another great way to use up whatever leftover veggies you have. Throw it all in with beans and spices, and it’s ready to warm you up!

3. Bonus #1: Make veggie stock. Veggie scraps leftover from cooking go in a gallon bag in my freezer. Cobs from corn, tops of peppers, ends of carrots, onions, and squash, plus a couple of wrinkly tomatoes all end up in the bag. When the bag is full, I toss the scraps with olive oil and a little salt, and roast them in the oven. Then, I scrape the beautifully toasted veggie pieces into my crockpot, add some salt and spices (rosemary, thyme, and black peppercorns are my go to choices), and cover it all with water. Turn that puppy on and enjoy when your house starts to smell delicious. After a few hours, strain through a fine mesh strainer and you have delicious fresh veggie stock to use as needed. (It also freezes well or can be canned.)

4. Bonus #2: Compost the banana peels and icky scraps. Sometimes there’s a portion of the vegetables that just look too far gone for me to put in the veggie stock, and the banana peels are definitely not edible. So I stick them in the compost, where they can break down naturally and turn back to dirt, instead of breaking down without oxygen and releasing methane in a landfill.

Please let me know how you are staying warm and using up food scraps this week, and in the meantime, check out these articles below for more ideas and encouragement!


I wrote a blog post about how the first 10 days of Offline October have impacted me and my family. Check it out HERE.


I also wrote a follow up to something I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago. I think we all need to give ourselves a bit of a break and celebrate the small wins.

No one is perfect. Check it out HERE.

trash mountain

Want to know more about why food waste is such a problem? Want some statistics to share with others? Read more HERE.

I’ll be back next weekend with more tips, and to let you know how the banana bread goes over with the kids! Now get cooking! Happy Saturday!

– Leah –

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