10 surprising uses for food that you were going to throw away

Flickr/cogdogBanana peels can be used to polish leather shoes.

Whether it be rarely-used spices that end up in the back of the cabinet or a gallon of milk that you just can’t use in time, spoiled food is a common problem for most people.

It’s easy to lose track of everything in the pantry or refrigerator, especially as you restock groceries each week. But before you toss your spoiled milk and eggshells in the trash, try some of these tips for making food scraps and leftovers useful.


1. Use sour milk as a replacement for buttermilk in baked goods.

Guy Montag/flickrJust make sure you’re not using expired raw milk.

It might not smell the best, but sour milk can still be used for baking. “Actually, cooking with sour milk is delicious. It’s a substitute for buttermilk,”Dana Gunders of the Natural Resources Defence Council, told NPR. “You can [use it] in pancake or biscuit batter. And you can’t taste the sour! I’ve pushed it, and let the milk get really old. The pancakes turned out fluffy, and really good.”

But proceed with caution – pasteurised milk is ok to push to the limits, but raw milk can make you sick if it is used after expiring.


2. Turn stale bread into croutons or breadcrumbs.

Jarkko Lane/FlickrThey’re easy to customise with seasoning, too.

It’s not always easy to go through an entire loaf of bread before it goes stale.

As long as there is no mould, you can use old bread to make flavorful bread crumbs or croutons that taste much better than store-bought varieties.

For croutons, just cut bread into small squares, toss in olive oil and your favourite seasonings, and bake until golden brown. For breadcrumbs, cut the bread into smaller pieces and toast it lightly in the oven. Then, put the pieces in a bag and roll with a rolling pin. Add spices to taste.


3. Refresh a candle’s scent with spices.

PixabayBring candles with weak scents back to life.

Nice-smelling spices are worth keeping, even after they expire.

You can revitalize a candle that has lost its fragrance – or make a newer candle more potent – with spices. Light a candle and allow the wax to melt. Blow out the candle and mix in the spices of your choice, stirring carefully. If you experiment with different spice blends, you can even make a chai- or pumpkin spice-scented candle.


4. Fertilize your garden with coffee grounds.

Universal PicturesEarthworms appreciate coffee grounds.

No need to throw coffee grounds in the trash. According to HGTV, “As coffee grounds break down, they release nutrition in the form of nitrogen, potassium, magnesium and other minerals into the soil. For plants that do well in acidic media, augment soil with coffee grounds to help them thrive.”

It can also help balance soil pH, deter slugs and fire ants, and feeds helpful earthworms, making them more productive.


5. Improve your garden with eggshells.

ShutterstockIt can also help with keeping slugs out of your garden.

The shells of eggs have a few helpful uses in your garden. When composted, egg shells serve as a natural fertiliser for soil.

According to Good Housekeeping, crushed shells also deter pests of all sizes from eating your plants. Deer hate the smell of egg, and the eggshells will keep slugs at bay.


6. Stop squeaky door hinges with butter.

cheeseslave / FlickrIf you won’t cook with it before it expires, it might help you with an annoying squeaky hinge.

Similar to WD40, the oils in butter can help quiet a squeaky door hinge. Simply rub a small slab of butter on the culprit, and it will be silenced in no time.


7. Shave with peanut butter.

mrsdkrebs/FlickrYou can spread it on your legs.

If you’re out of shaving cream but have an excess of peanut butter lurking in the back of your pantry, now is its time to shine.

Legs, beards, armpits – you name it, peanut butter will help you shave it. Admittedly, it would be easier to make a run to the store for shaving cream, but with a long afternoon and some patience, you will earn the reward of silky smooth skin.


8. Get luscious locks with a can of beer.

Sometimes, a beer can or two get pushed farther and farther in the refrigerator until they are long forgotten. And, when you finally go to drink it, it’s flat.

Luckily, flat beer doesn’t have to go straight down the drain – you can bring it with you in the shower.

InStyle reported that the hops and barley found in most beers are chock full of B vitamins and proteins, both of which will help strengthen and return lustre to your hair. Simply dump the beer on your head after shampooing and before conditioning.

After a personal test, I found it left my hair shinier, softer, and less frizzy.


9. Clean your kitchen and bathroom with baking soda.

Flickr/Aqua MechanicalEven if it’s expired, it can be used for some cleaning jobs.

Although expired baking soda won’t work its magic in baking, it can still be used to scrub tough stains in your kitchen and bathroom. You can also sprinkle a bit down your sink’s drain to stifle odours and break up any gunk that’s lurking in there.

Plus, you can soak pots and pans in a mixture of hot water, dish soap, and baking soda to easily remove bits of burnt food.


10. Use banana peels to polish your leather shoes.

Roland Tanglao/FlickrThe peels contain a key ingredient found in shoe polish.

Bananas contain a lot of potassium which, according to Today, is a key ingredient in most shoe polishes. Just wipe the inside of a banana peel on your leather shoes and buff it out with a cloth.

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