Do you hate to see leftover celery wilting in the fridge? Learn how to use your leftover celery, carrots & onions to minimize food waste!
There's nothing worse than buying an ingredient, using a tiny portion of it, and watching the rest of it go bad in the fridge.
None of us do this on purpose of course, but so many recipes call for just two stalks of celery or half an onion. It takes a lot of organization to make sure the leftover ingredients all get used!
Using up all ingredients is actually a big priority on our Prep Dish meal plans. Both from a budget standpoint and an environmental standpoint, food waste makes me sad. We work hard to ensure that if one of our recipes calls for half an onion, another recipe uses the other half.
Is there an ingredient you frequently have in excess? For many, it's celery, onions and carrots. They tend to come in large quantities in the grocery store, but many recipes call for just a small amount.
Use the tips below to minimize food waste and creatively use your extra ingredients! It's great for frugal meal planning and great for the planet.
How to Use Leftover Celery
Why It's Worth It – Celery Nutritional Benefits
Using leftover celery is perhaps the most challenging because, unlike onions and carrots, it doesn't last a super long time in the fridge.
Still, it's totally worth the effort because celery's nutritional benefits are substantial.
While it's most famously known as a good weight loss food due to all of its fiber and extremely low calorie count, celery also packs in quite a few vitamins and nutrients. Celery has vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium and iron, in addition to lots of antioxidants. Its high fiber content is also excellent for digestion.
Did you know that celery leaves are one of the most nutritious parts? Try throwing them into a salad or on top of a grain bowl for a simple way to include them in your meal plan.
Simple Ways to Use Celery
I have plenty of recipes using this nutritious veggie but I know sometimes you just need something quick and easy. Here are a few throw-together ideas for using up your leftover celery:
- Ants on a Log – I can't leave out this childhood classic 🙂 Spread some nut butter on celery stalks and top with raisins or dried cranberries. This is actually a really fun one for kids to make themselves.
- Celery and Ranch – Have you tried my dairy-free ranch dressing recipe? It's super easy and great for using up leftover veggies.
- Top Secret Smoothie Boost – Do you ever throw veggies into your smoothies? I've been known to use spinach, cucumber, kale, cauliflower and zucchini in mine. Celery has such a mild taste, it would work well in smoothies as well. Just make sure you have a high-powered blender to blend in all of that fiber!
- Soups and Stews – Celery is a classic ingredient in soups and stews. You can throw it into pretty much any soup recipe you're making. Just sauté with the onions toward the beginning of cooking.
Recipes Using Celery
If your'e looking for more of a formal recipe using celery, I've got you covered! Here are a few of my favorites:
Classic Chicken Vegetable Soup
Does celery freeze well?
Yes! If you realize there's no way you're going to use up all of your celery before it goes bad, freeze it.
Like most frozen veggies, you'll need to use it in a cooked dish after freezing since its texture won't be the same.
For best results, chop the celery and blanch it by cooking in boiling water for just 2-3 minutes before removing it to a bowl of ice water. Once it's cooled, dry the celery and flash freeze. To do this, lay it out on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once it's frozen, add it to a freezer container or bag and you're good to go!
Now you'll have already chopped celery at the ready next time you need a bit for a soup or stew.
How to Use Leftover Onions
Why It's Worth It – Nutritional Benefits of Onions
High in vitamin C, B vitamins and potassium, onions also offer many antioxidants. Onions are beneficial for your heart and may help reduce high blood pressure. Furthermore, like garlic, onions are part of the allium family. Consuming plants from this family may help reduce cancer risk.
I'd say it's well worth it to make sure these nutrient dense powerhouses don't go to waste.
Simple Ways to Use Onions
Fortunately, onions are super versatile and they keep relatively well once chopped.
If you use half of an onion, you should be able to save the other half in the fridge for 7-10 days. Make sure it's tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in a high-quality container to keep it fresh…and to keep your whole fridge from smelling like onions!
Here are simple ways to use that leftover onion throughout the week:
- Scrambled Eggs: Sauté diced onion before adding eggs to the pan to scramble.
- Caramelized Onions: Cook sliced onions in olive oil or butter over low heat until caramelized and add to salads.
- Marinara: Even if you're using jarred marinara, sautéing some onions (and garlic if you're feeling it) can add some extra flavor and nutrition. I love adding spinach to jarred marinara as well!
- Tacos: Whether you're making black bean, beef or chicken tacos, adding onions always works!
Recipes Using Onions
If you prefer recipes to throw-together meals, here are some of my favorite recipes using onions:
Slow Cooker Green Chili Beef Burritos
Make sure you know the proper way to chop an onion too – it'll save you so much time!
Do onions freeze well?
Yes! Onions do freeze well. Similar to celery, thawed onions will have a softer texture, but they work well for soups, chili or other cooked dishes.
There's no need to blanch but flash-freezing will help the pieces not to freeze together into a giant onion block. Consider freezing smaller portions so you can just pull out what you need.
How to Use Leftover Carrots
Why It's Worth It – Nutritional Benefits of Carrots
Carrots last pretty well in the fridge but if you buy a big bag (or have a successful garden!) you can still wind up with leftover carrots to use up.
Thanks to their abundance of carotenoids, carrots are well known for supporting good eyesight but the nutritional benefits don't stop there! Carrots also boast fiber, vitamin K1, potassium and antioxidants.
While high in carbs, carrots are low on the glycemic index. This means they won't spike your blood sugar like more refined carbohydrates.
Simple Ways to Use Carrots
Carrots are pretty easy to use up but in case you need some new ideas, here are some of my favorites:
- Whole Roasted Carrots: Have you tried this? It takes a bit of time in the oven but requires no chopping or prep so I consider it a win! I talk more about the method here, but basically, you just preheat the oven to 350 F, drizzle whole carrots with olive oil and salt, and roast for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes. The slow roasting brings out SO much flavor!
- Carrots and Hummus: Slice into carrot sticks and dip in your favorite store-bought or homemade hummus – the perfect healthy snack!
- Stir fry: Chop into coins and add to your favorite stir fry. They add a delicious crunch.
Recipes Using Carrots
Lemony Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Roasted Vegetables
Do carrots freeze well?
Again, yes! Freezing extra veggies is an often overlooked but highly useful strategy for minimizing food waste. Like celery, you'll need to chop and blanch the carrots before flash freezing. Then remove from the freezer next time you want to sauté some carrots as part of a dish.
What is Mirepoix?
Mirepoix is the French term for diced onions, carrots and celery all together. It's used to add a base of flavor to many dishes.
If you find yourself with leftover celery, onions and carrots, this is a great use!
Mirepoix generally uses a ratio of 2:1:1 for onions to celery to carrots. Dice your veggies, blanch and flash freeze all together. You'll have a super easy base for soups or stews any time you need it!