Most people use herbs to add a little flavor to their dishes and then forget all about them in their fridge. We often get a bunch but never use the entire thing. This is such a waste! Get the most bang out of your buck by using up your herbs in unconventional ways. Here are three creative ways to put your herbs to work.
1. Make A Salad
Most people think of kale, spinach, or lettuce when they think of the base of a salad, but what if I told you herbs make a good base too? It all depends on the type of salad you’re going for, obviously, but they really do make for an interesting one. Here’s one of my personal favorite herb salads, which also goes good with lettuce (though the lettuce isn’t the star ingredient here).
Fresh Herb Salad
Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and dress just before serving with your favorite vinaigrette, or simply olive oil, lemon juice and salt. For this, I recommend one of my favorite salad dressings: 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Just shake it together in a jar and pour over your herb salad. Here are a few other healthy salad dressing options.
- 1 head of butter lettuce (torn into pieces)
- 1 cup basil leaves (loosely packed)
- 1/2 cup mint leaves (loosely packed)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (leaves and stems, loosely packed)
- 1/2 cup parsley leaves (loosely packed)
- 1/4 cup chopped dill (loosely packed)
Of course, your salad doesn’t have to consist of several different herbs all at once. Some good herb combos with other non-herb bases include mint and kale, or basil and cilantro with mixed greens. The herbs really add that extra something to a salad and freshen it up.
2. Create Household Cleaners
One of my favorite things to do with spare herbs is use them to make amazing smelling household cleaners. They smell out of this world and still clean effectively, so what’s not to love? Plus, making all-natural cleaning products is important for keeping a non-toxic home. I don’t trust most commercial cleaners: They have a bunch of questionable ingredients in them that always wind up irritating my throat or making me sneeze a million times.
One herb-scented household cleaner I recommend is sage-infused vinegar. Vinegar is amazing at cleaning things, but it doesn’t always have the most pleasant scent. To combat this, infuse some sage into the vinegar to give it a much nicer aroma. You can also try this with other herbs, such as basil, pine needles, or rosemary, if you prefer those scents.
How To Make Herb-Infused Household Cleaner
- Just take a bunch of fresh, not dry, sage (or any herb of your choice) and twist it until it’s very fragrant. Place it in a glass container along with 2 cups of white distilled vinegar and let it infuse for 2-4 weeks.
- Using a spray bottle, add equal parts sage (or other herb) vinegar and water. I used a 1:1 ratio for this, but if you prefer a subtler smell, add more water than infused vinegar.
- To use it, just spray any surface and wipe clean using a cloth rag. You can use this to clean almost everything, from your kitchen to your bathroom!
You can also make herbal floor washes, if you have wooden floors you’d like to clean. You'll need a handful of basil leaves (or the herb of your choice), a cup, boiling water, hot soapy water, a bucket, the juice of half a lemon, and frankincense essential oil. Steep the basil leaves in a cup of boiling water for five minutes. Strain the liquid into a bucket of hot soapy water (I use castile soap) with the lemon juice and five drops of frankincense oil. Use a mop to wash your floors with the homemade floor wash, then rinse it using fresh water from another bucket (with no soapy water). Your home will smell so good!
3. Flavor Ice Cubes & Drinks
I love adding herbs to water because it becomes flavored water. It’s perfect for summer days when you want to quench your thirst but long for a little extra flavor. Mixing herbs with fruit in water is a delicious choice. I personally love watermelon and mint, cucumber and rosemary, strawberry and basil, blackberry thyme, or lemon and cilantro. There are several other flavor combos you can create of course, so feel free to get creative!
All you have to is chop up some fruit, pick the leaves off the herbs, and mix them into your water. It’s so pretty and definitely refreshing. It also looks great on a table when you’ve got guests you’re looking to impress. If you’re serving some nice cocktails at a party, or just fixing yourself one, placing an herb in your drink can add a nice taste and decoration as well, like a sprig of rosemary or a few lavender buds.
Yet another way to use up your herbs is to create herb ice cubes. These really amp up your beverages and create beautiful ice cubes. Just place 1 or 2 fresh leaves of mint or basil in each square of your ice cube tray, fill it with water like normal, then freeze it. You can add these to water, herbal iced teas, or even adult beverages for a little added pizzazz.
If all else fails, compost!
As always, I recommend composting the herbs you do not eat, or ones that have served their purpose. Never just throw them in the trash! Perishables (like herbs) that go into the trash end up in a landfill where they do not properly decompose, thus releasing methane, a greenhouse gas. Composting your herbs after they’ve served their purpose is your best bet for helping the planet and making sure everything goes full circle.
Want more ways to use up herbs? Here are 11+ ways to use up herbs in your everyday life. Also, yet another option is to create some lovely herb infused oils.
What herbs do you have sitting in your fridge? How will you use them up?