Don’t Throw That Out! Smart Uses for Your Pantry’s Odds and Ends

How To

Last week, we told you how to clean and reorganize your fridge and pantry  to minimize food waste. The next dilemma: Now that you know you have — yipes! – 10 different jars of half-eaten jam, a variety of nearly stale crackers and a crusty-but-salvageable container of mustard, what can you do with them? Don’t be so fast to reach for the garbage can. Many of those lingering remnants, poorly stored items and nearly expired goods still have their uses. Try a few of these fast tricks and recipes before resorting to throwing things out:

Make bread crumbs.

Puree stale bread, crackers, chips, or pretzels to make bread crumbs, suggests Holly Wolf, chief marketing officer for Conestoga Bank. Toast the crumbs, and then add seasonings such as oregano, basil and hot pepper flakes. Keep in the freezer to use as needed, she says.

Glaze with jam.

Try it solo — apple on pork, for example, or orange on chicken. Or mix with other components: Mustard and apricot jam work well together. So do strawberry jam and barbecue sauce, and peach jam and honey.

Combine remnants.

Pamela Braun of makes a raspberry chipotle barbecue sauce out of fridge odds and ends including ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and molasses.

Swap out cleaners.

The last bit of a bottle of vinegar, old baking soda and tea bags can all  be used as household cleaning agents.

Repurpose old rice.

Instead of throwing out expired rice, keep it on hand to salvage a wet cellphone, says Kyra Mancine, a spokeswoman for home trends retailer QCI Direct. Submerging the phone in a bowl of dry rice overnight draws out the water.

Prepare vinaigrette.

Odds and ends of oils, vinegars, sauces and jams can be transformed into vinaigrettes, dressings and marinades and to add flavor . Sauté, sauté. “Dipping oil, oil based marinades and similar products are great for sautéing kale, collards or any greens to add flavor,” says Wolf.

Toast spices.

 Revitalize the flavor of older spices with a few minutes over high heat.


The last bits of baking soda, oatmeal, expired coffee, olive oil and even shortening can be used as homemade beauty treatments.

 Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie


Leave a Reply