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Recycling your kitchen leftovers

My husband is a master of reusing food scraps. You should see what he can do to Ramen soup with a little leftover honey, spinach, chili powder, green onions and an egg.

He got me thinking about ways to use other kinds of kitchen leftovers. It may only save you a few cents here and there, but it will feel great to know you’re not wasting things.

• Pickle brine. In college, we used this as a hangover remedy. Today, when I take the last pickle out of the jar, I usually end up pouring the “pickle juice” down the drain – and feeling really guilty about it.

I didn’t know you can reuse it to pickle onions, garlic and hard-boiled eggs. You can also use it to marinate meats, season your Bloody Mary, as a substitute for vinegar, add it to potato salads or even use it to clean copper pans, according to “bon appetít” magazine.

• Raw or cooked beef and chicken bones. They’re great for making stock and broth, especially if they have meat and cartilage attached. The bones and cartilage will give your stock body, while the meat will give it flavor.

• Bacon grease. Your dog will love you forever if you pour your leftover bacon grease on his dry food once in a while. Just know that feeding fatty meats like bacon and ham can give dogs pancreatitis.

• Fruit and vegetable scraps. Celery tops and stumps, garlic and onion skins, tomato ends and carrot peels don’t have to go in the garbage can or compost bin. They can be used to make soup broths or thrown into a juicer or blender to be added to a healthy green smoothie.

Orange peels can freshen up a garbage disposal, banana peels can be used to shine shoes and lemon pieces can be used to clean and shine your tea kettle, stove top and counters.

• Bread. First, see if you can use it the way God intended. Sometimes stale or hard bread and rolls can come back to life if you brush it with water and pop it into the microwave.

Otherwise, there are a million things to do with stale or leftover bread. You probably already know about bread crumbs, croutons and bread pudding. But how about French onion soup, crostini or baked French toast?

• Beef roast. There are the yummy roast beef sandwiches, wraps and beef stir fry. But try turning leftover beef into a shepherd’s pie with mashed potatoes and veggies. If you don’t feel like messing with the veggies, you can just add a can of vegetable soup.

Look around in your fridge and pantry. Is there anything else close to going bad? Throw veggies, sauces and red wine together with the beef to make a nice, hearty stew. Speaking of wine …

• Wine. My husband used to sell it for a living. Some days he would come home with 10 open bottles. That may sound like a dream come true, until you realize wine doesn’t taste good for very long once it’s opened. And it hurts to pour it down the drain.

My husband started adding wine to basically everything he cooked – spaghetti sauce, risotto, braised beef. Dry wines work better in savory dishes, sweet wines, ports and sherries work better in desserts and sauces.

But you can also use it to make vinegar (which is surprisingly easy to do), salad dressing and even soap!

Got consumer tips or questions? Email schristmann@buffnews.com, tweet @discountdivasam or like Facebook.com/DiscountDiva

There are a million things to do with stale or leftover bread.