Food waste is a major dilemma in today’s world, and throwing out even vegetable scraps contributes to the problem. Not to mention that throwing out unwanted food is also a huge waste of money. Here’s one small way to do your part — make your own vegetable (or meat) broths and stocks from scratch.

chopped garlic, carrots, tomato, celery, onion and bay leaf in a pot

It’s surprisingly easy to make broth and relies on bits and pieces of veggies, meats and even odds and ends like cheese rinds, all of which would otherwise be thrown in the landfill. Plus, you’ll save money and create a much more flavorful broth than you can find at the store. Each time, the broth will taste slightly different, too, depending on the combination of scraps you have on hand. Get ready to make flavorful, comforting recipes with this tutorial on how to make your own broth to reduce food waste.

Related: Your guide to preserving, storing and canning food

The first step is to find a large, freezer-safe container to store your scraps until you build up enough to produce a rich broth. Of course, much of the internet will say to throw it in a plastic resealable bag, but here at Inhabitat, we strongly encourage finding a glass jar or silicone resealable bag instead.

The hardest part of the process is remembering to save those stems and peelings for the broth. If you are accustomed to tossing unwanted bits, like pepper stems or onion skins, straight into the garbage can or compost bin, it will take a conscious effort to train your brain and hands to grab up those scraps and throw them into the freezer container. The freezer will preserve the scraps until you are ready to make a broth.

vegetables on a cutting board beside a knife and vegetable peeler

Another good candidate for your scrap container? Veggies that are on their last leg at the end of the week. If you didn’t finish those carrots and celery, chop them into smaller pieces, and toss them in the freezer. Wilting herbs, cheese rinds and meat bones are also fair game, depending on your dietary needs and what you have available.

After a few weeks (or less depending on how many people are in your home!), you will be left with a full container packed with flavorful bits and pieces. It’s time to get cooking! Break out a stockpot and start sauteing those frozen vegetable scraps with oil and salt. Cook for just a few minutes before adding several cups of water (about 10 cups should do, but add more if you have more scraps and a larger stockpot). Then, simmer away!

Simmer those scraps in water for 30 minutes to an hour; then be sure to let it cool slightly. Don’t forget to taste the broth — add more herbs, salt or even nutritional yeast if it needs a flavor boost. Next, remove the vegetable bits for composting. Strain the broth into another pot to make sure all of the scraps have been removed. Once the broth has completely cooled, pour it into airtight containers — glass jars work well — and store in the freezer for up to a month.

brothy soup in a white and red bowl near fresh vegetables

Then, anytime you want to make an easy soup for dinner (we recommend these vegan slow cooker soup recipes) or even more complex, brothy meals, you can grab your own flavorful, zero-waste broth as the base.

Images via Monika Schröder, Hebi. B, Rita E. and Snow Pea & Bok Choi