Recycling Week: Regrow your food scraps

If you bought 10 bags’ worth of groceries, would you chuck four of them out the window on the way home? Unless you were doing some really weird cross-training for upper-arm strength, no, of course you wouldn’t.

But it turns out that most of us are doing something like that, because up to 40% of edible food goes wasted in the United States (NRDC pdf). Some of that is lost on the fields or in transportation before it reaches stores; but we consumers contribute a good share of waste, as well.

One of the oft-mentioned solutions is to compost food scraps – it cuts down on the millions of pounds of food waste piling up in landfills, and returns nutrients to the soil for future crops. But what if we skipped the compost middleman and went right from scraps to food? It turns out, it’s stupidly easy to do.


Pretty much any food that you would buy with its root end (leeks, scallions, bok choy, cabbage, onions, celery, garlic) or that easily sprouts new buds (potatoes, ginger) can be resurrected from its leftover bits with just some water and/or soil plus a little light. Andy Whitely wrote about 16 veggies you can easily regrow on Wake Up World, and you can find little summary charts all over Pinterest.

Bok choy

I recently tried my hand at this with leeks and bok choy, and it really is as easy as Teh Internets say. The leeks sprang up within a mere 24 hours of me putting the hacked-off root ends in water, and the bok choy has re-leafed itself nicely (although, it keeps trying to bolt on me).

So if you start regenerating vegetables, what are you going to do with all those second helpings? Glad you asked, because I’ve found a week’s worth of recipes that use these easy-to-restart veggies:

  • Minty green celery-olive salsa from HuffPost Taste (here)
  • Seared scallops with crispy leeks from Delish (here)
  • Potato, spinach and leeks frittata from Cooking Light (here)
  • Summer coleslaw with snow peas, hazelnuts and scallions from Health (here)
  • Carrot soup with ginger from Our Earth Land (here)
  • Mushroom and cheddar stuffed onions from Eating Well (here)
  • Sesame-shiitake bok choy from Eating Well (here)


  1. I’ve grown potatoes from scraps (have some going on right now) but it never occurred to me to do the same with other foods. Love this post. I totally pinned it and can’t wait to show my husband. He’s been into gardening lately so I know he’s going to love this.

  2. […] to go on the market. But I did manage to share what I learned about how stupidly easy it is to regrow edible plants from food scraps. Who […]

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