Being waste-free is all the hype right now. Simple things, like using reusable straws to drink smoothies, investing in reusable shopping bags for grocery shopping, and saving scraps of food for composting or for cooking other foods, can be repeatedly seen all throughout our social media feeds. And all of this for good reason! It's known that plastic straws and bags can lead to harmful environmental damage, and 40% of the food in the United States is wasted, while there are so many people in this country who are starving. 

I'd like to propose another way to go waste-free, and that's saving up the water you used to cook or boil your food. Of course, number one, for the water-saving aspect! It's the sustainable thing to do in order to conserve our beautiful planet and its oceans. But, secondly, and for a reason that's incredibly close to my heart as a nutrition student, for the nutrient-saving side of it.

Karla Maldonado

Many people don't know that when foods, such as vegetables, are boiled in water, some nutrients from the vegetables, mostly water-soluble vitamins, leach into the water, slightly decreasing the nutrient content of the veggies. The amount of nutrients leached may vary depending on the vegetable, the temperature of the water, cooking time, and the amount of water. Nevertheless, nutrient losses mean less disease-fighting and immune-system-stimulating benefits, and as a nutrition student, it's my job to ensure people are maximizing their nutrient intake to the best of their ability.  

How can we ensure that those lovely nutrients that have leached into our water are not lost? Reuse the water! Thankfully, I've got six ways that this vitamin-rich water can be used to make even more nourishing and delicious foods that your body will thank you for. 

1. Soup 

vegetable, soup, carrot, meat, broth, parsley
Alyssa Cronin

When I think of soup, I think of one of the best ways to get in as much nutrition as I can in a bowl. Soup possibilities are virtually endless, from thick to thin...from savory to sweet. When you pack it up with all the protein, veggies, herbs, and spices, you can guarantee you're showing your body the ultimate form of love and care. Want to show it even more love and care in the form of great-for-you vitamins? Use the water you used to boil your vegetables as the base for your soup, and go from there! If you want more flavor, you can mix in a splash of low-sodium chicken or veggie broth. Personally, I think the water already has great taste from the previously boiled veggies! This is my favorite soup recipe that will work great with the reused water, in place of the broth, or as a simple add-in.

2. Oatmeal

Susy Cohen

My life changed the day someone told me to cook my oats in water instead of almond milk. For some reason, cooking them in water makes them so much fluffier! Not to say it doesn't take good with milk, however. So if you're an oats-in-milk kind of guy or gal, you can always do half milk, half water, but remember: use your nutrient-dense H20! The oats will absorb the liquid, soaking up every last bit of healthy goodness in that water. No, you won't taste the veggies! If you'd like, though, savory oatmeal can always be a route to take.

3. Smoothies

Susy Cohen

Smoothies are one of my favorite breakfasts. Like soups, they can be a great, easy, and quick way to pack in a ton of nutrients in one delicious slurp. You can add in all your favorite frozen or fresh fruits and veggies and optional add-ins, like protein powder, almond butter, chia seeds, do you! But to blend that baby up, use the water you boiled your veggies in to get even more nutrients in there. Again, if you're a milk type of person, feel free to do half milk, half water. We don't judge. 

4. Tea

tea, oil, jam
Jocelyn Hsu

It's the winter time, which means it's the perfect time to get in our kitchen, heat up some water, and make ourselves a cup of tea as we sit in front of the fire while eating chocolate chip cookies. Make the most out of your tea by using your nutrient-dense water as the base. All you'll need to do is heat it up and steep your favorite tea blend in there for a couple of minutes. Drink up; cheers to happiness and good health!

5. Rice/Quinoa

rice, fried rice, broccoli, brown rice, chicken, pilaf, quinoa, mango
Gwen Tan

Like oatmeal, rice, quinoa, and other hearty grains soak up water completely as they cook. Wouldn't it be awesome if the water they were soaking up contained extra vitamins and minerals that would add more nourishing health benefits to your body? It's possible! And you don't even need to get another pot dirty. In the same pot where you boiled your veggies, add your rice, quinoa, or favorite grain, and cook until all the water has been absorbed. So much yum and nutrients!

6. Flavored Ice Cubes

strawberry, frozen strawberries, chia seeds, orange juice, smoothie, blender, ice
Caroline Ingalls

This is probably one of the coolest things I've ever seen on the internet. Ice cube trays where you make ice with plain, old water are so 2017. Ice cube trays where you make ice cubes that taste like whatever you want them to taste like? So 2019. Take the water you used to boil your veggies and fill up each cube in the tray halfway. Chop up some of your favorite fruits really small (any berry, kiwi, and cherries are all great options), put a little bit in each cube, and then cover the rest of the way with the remaining nutrient-dense water, if there is still room. Freeze for a couple of hours, and what you'll get are ice cubes that not only taste good, but are good for you, too!

#SpoonTip: Use the ice cubes in your already-healthy smoothie to take the healthy level up a couple notches.

Daniela Nessim

Living a lifestyle where you try to incorporate as much vitamins and minerals as you can into every meal will do you a whole lot of good. Nature has given us everything we need to be the healthiest and best versions of ourselves through nourishing food; we just have to find all the different possible ways we can ensure none of that goes to waste! It can be as easy as reusing water, friends. Try it out and see how you feel!