"lost" food!?! Nothing goes to waste.
Though usually only cooking for 1, I just CANNOT toss chicken/turkey bonew without making stock... few ingredients, little work and pretty much FREE, cuz was just gonna get tossed anyway.
Was making a BIG batch of REAL lemon-ade for a trip to the beach. Started thinking... wish I had a need for lemon zest, cuz was tossing after juicing. Then had a stroke of genius/insanity. Hauled out rarely used apple peeler/corer... given to me by SIL who used to to Pampered chef demos. Stuck the lemons on, moved the corer part out of the way, and ended up with a HEAP of strings of zest before juicing. I let them sit out on paper plate to dry totally. Then ground up and made lemon-pepper that wasn't loaded with salt. And ended up with a lot of ground lemon rind for other things.
Decided to make chili one time. NOT a big fan of hot but was at a place called Produce Junction. It's a no-frills, semi-bulk place with nice fruit and veggies at great prices... lemons from above... 6 for $1! Picked up a bag of jalapenos... 1lb/$2... that's a LOT of jalapenos! Probably only used 1-2 in the chili and realized rest were just gonna go bad before I wanted anything spicy?? Hauled out my cheap-o dehydrator! Cut stems off, and halved length-wise. Put in dehydrator until CRISPY!! Then ground up in food processor to make jalapeno powder. WARNING! When grinding, drape a damp towel over the top of food processor and give it PLENTY of time to settle after it's pulverized... unless you like to cough and sneeze forever! I use it in place of cayenne when I make a rub or spice blend.
Used to have a local supermarket that always had an area for reduced produce. Never anything nasty... just not "perfect" any more. Bought a BIG bag of large white mushrooms... like kind for stuffing. After cooking some, had a MESS left over. Dehydrated them in thick slices. Tho not a total fail... not crazy about result... a little rubbery when reconstituted. If I had it to do over, woulda sliced/chopped, sauted in nice olive oil and butter and froze to be dumped into something later.
Apple peeler/corer only took off zest... left all the white on the lemon and they were easy to juice.
Stopped into local bakery today... don't go there often. They had packages of 6 bagels for $2.25... normally $.70 each! Couldn't have been baked any later than this morning. Gonna make batch of bagel chip snacks... VERY thinly sliced, liberally coated with mealted butter and olive oil, heavy on seasoning salt and into oven till crispy.
I hate to waste food as well. You offered up a couple of really good ideas.
I had to laugh at your warning for grinding hot peppers. I once put some jalapeno and serrano seeds/ribs in the garbage disposal and when I turned it on.......well, let's just say I think I now know what it feels like to be pepper sprayed!
Just so you know, you can make a phenomenal lemonade using the whole lemon (plus one lemon goes a lot further when you use it whole than when you just juice it). Cut it into pieces and throw it in the food processor, breaking it up pretty well. Sprinkle on your sugar and then process again, using the sugar to really break it all up. Then add some water, check for sweetness and add sugar as needed, and finish with one more thorough time in the processor. Drain in a wire mesh colander, mashing the liquid out, and top off with either still or sparkling water to taste (what comes out of the processor is a strongly flavored concentrate). This also works with other citrus.
I hate to waste food as well-just seems wrong to me. I shop from the reduced aisle in produce as well-bargains galore! I like to saute the mushrooms with olive oil and either lots of garlic or thyme and then freeze in small containers. It's great for making a quick meal on a busy evening. My garden gives me plenty of tomatoes so I put them in the oven on shallow pans at a low temp, add lots of garlic and olive oil, cook until I like the consistancy and freeze them for pizza in the winter. Bonus-the skins come off when they cool down so that saves a very tedious step of blanching to peel skins off.