15 Amazing Uses for Inedible Food Waste

When you’re cleaning your kitchen cupboards or fridge, the chances are you will find a few items that are past their ‘use-by’ or ‘best before’ date. Use-by dates are important to acknowledge as foods may make you ill if you ignore them. For anything marked ‘best before’ it’s fine to use your common sense to see whether it’s still edible*. However, some things that are past their best for eating can still be useful in other ways! Here’s a list of fun and unusual uses that you might not know about:

Wheat flour: Out of date flour can be used for lots of fun crafts! Make play-dough, salt-dough or paste glue. The Zero Waste Chef has a great recipe here.

Ketchup, tinned tomatoes or passata: If you didn’t manage to use the whole jar and it’s gone bad, tomato pulp can be used to remove tarnish from brass! Spread it on thickly and leave it for around 30 mins covered with a damp rag, then wipe, rinse and dry. Please do a patch test first if using on something valuable.

Wrinkly/green/sprouted potatoes: Try planting out to grow your own, or use to clean light rust from cast iron pans. Chop the potato in half and dip into salt, scrub the pan then clean and dry. You might need to reseason the pan afterwards.

Flaxseed oil: Ths nutritious plant oil goes rancid very quickly, but can still be used to season cast iron or to ‘black’ woodburning stoves. Netherton Foundry has instructions for seasoning here.

Coffee Grounds: Use to deter slugs and snails in the garden. Make your own simple face or body scrub by combining 3 tbsp of used grounds with 1 tbsp of coconut oil and 1 tbsp sugar.

Lemon or lime: Reuse squeezed wedges or slices from drinks to clean limescale from around your taps. You can also use whole fruit that has gone mushy – just cut off any mouldy bits first.

Orange Peel: Make a zesty homemade cleaner. Find out how on Instructables.

Walnut or almond oil: Use as a wood conditioner. More instructions here.

Cornflour/cornstarch: Try some science experiments like making 3D washable paint, or slime.

Flax seed: Make your own natural hair gel. There are a selection of recipes on Healthline.

Rye flour: Zero-waste afficionados swear by this as a plastic-free alternative to shampoo. Wasteland Rebel has more info.

Antique dried beans: Use for ‘blind baking’ to keep pastry cases flat.

Tea leaves: Sprinkle onto chopping boards to help clean and absorb odours. Bird & Blend have got more ideas here.

Squishy bananas: Make into a conditioning hair or face mask.

Avocado skins and pits: These can be used for natural dyeing. Fiber Curious has detailed instructions.

I’d love to hear more ideas – have I missed something out that you know about? Share it in the comments!

*You can find more information about date labels on the Love Food Hate Waste website.

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