Clever Ways To Use Produce and Overlooked Pantry Items

by posted in FOREX TRADING, Investments, MAKE MONEY, TRENDING

There’s nothing worse than needing to toss vegetables or fruit in the trash because you never used them. It’s also frustrating putting groceries away when your pantry is stuffed with cans and bags that have been sitting there for over a year. You can save money on groceries, prevent food waste, and make space in your kitchen by finding creative ways to use up those overlooked items. From unique dinner ideas to preservation techniques to simple hacks, there are infinite tactics for using up those tricky ingredients.

1. Make Soup

Spicy chicken noodle soup
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

When in doubt, soup is a brilliant way to get rid of food taking up space in your fridge and pantry. Frozen peas can become a creamy pea soup; canned corn can make a hearty corn chowder; mushy tomatoes can lead to a rich roasted tomato soup. Old onions and broth can make French onion soup, while leftover meatballs can make Italian wedding soup. The possibilities here are endless.

2. Elevate Snacks and Ingredients

Everything But The Leftover Seasoning Blend
Image Credit: Trader Joe’s.

If you bought a specific seasoning for a recipe and now it’s been sitting in your cupboard untouched for a year, consider elevating your favorite snacks. You can use garam masala or Old Bay to make your popcorn zestier or make simple syrup from wilting herbs like rosemary for fancy drinks. Sometimes, a whole meal isn’t the best way to use leftover ingredients.

3. Cook Casseroles

Leftover Thanksgiving Casserole
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Casseroles are lovely because they’re filling, plentiful, and a breeze to make. You can combine almost anything to make a layered casserole. Pick an ingredient or two you need to get rid of, pair them with something simple like rice, pasta, or potatoes, and toss them in the oven.

4. Make One-Pot Meals

A bowl of hearty chili with beans
Image Credit: cyclonebill from Copenhagen, Denmark, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Similar to casseroles, one-pot meals can also use up unwanted ingredients. Chilis and stews are excellent dishes that you can put almost anything in. Get rid of your molasses by making your chili more sumptuous, or use up canned tomatoes in a curry. Stir fry, ratatouille, shakshuka, jambalaya, and gumbo are just a few more ideas.

5. Practice Breadmaking

Croissant sticks
Image Credit: Job Narinnate/Shutterstock.

Breadmaking is a handy skill that allows you to always have fresh bread in the house. With so many bread varieties, the chances are good that you can make bread with what you have in your kitchen right now. Making funky ones like zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, focaccia, and peanut butter bread can use up unusual ingredients.

6. Blend Smoothies

Woman pours fruit smoothie into cups in a kitchen
Image Credit: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock.

If you’re struggling with leftover fruit about to become inedible, it’s time to turn on the blender and make some scrumptious smoothies. You can use fresh, canned, or frozen fruit for smoothies, as well as many vegetables. Milk, yogurt, and juice are ideal bases, but you can make smoothies with water, too.

7. Experiment With Salads

Greek Salad
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The world of salads is a vast one. You can make leafy green salads topped with your overlooked ingredients or create more inventive salads. Bean salads, fruit salads, tomato salads, pasta salads, potato salads, and tuna salads are some ways to turn leftovers into a salad without leafy greens.

8. Make Baked Goods

bread 1
Image Credit: Master1305/Shutterstock.

Whether or not you’re an experienced baker, you can bake delicious goods with essential pantry items. From plain sugar cookies to biscuits to garlic knots, you’d be amazed by what you can create in the oven with standard ingredients like salt, butter, sugar, and flour. And if you have canned or refrigerated items that need to go, add them in!

9. Create Dips and Spreads

Chips and dill dip.
Image Credit: Androgles1992 – CC 3.0/WikiCommons.

Things like leftover chickpeas, avocado, bell peppers, eggplant, and even tuna can be transformed into sensational dips and spreads you’ll gobble up in no time. Consider recipes like baba ganoush, hummus, guacamole, muhammara, spinach-artichoke dip, bean dip, and tahini.

10. Enjoy a Cozy Scent

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Not every use for leftover ingredients is edible. If your kitchen is overflowing with unused spices and citrus fruits, toss them in a simmering pan of water and delight in the cozy scent. Cloves, orange peel, lemon peel, star anise, and cinnamon are wonderful for this.

11. Prepare Glazes, Marinades, and Dressings

Tomato and burrata salad at Cultivo, Ukiah, California.
Image Credit: Missvain – CC 4.0/WikiCommons.

Set yourself up for weeknight success by turning your leftover ingredients into ready-to-go glazes, meat marinades, and salad dressings. Use mushy raspberries for sweet salad dressings, make a bright pork marinade with canned pineapples, or simmer balsamic vinegar with old pomegranate seeds for a bold beef glaze.

12. Play With New Flavor Combinations

Oil mixture alongside a baguette for dipping.
Image Credit: Bryan… – CC 2.0/WikiCommons.

We all tend to fall into a cooking routine involving the same ingredients and meals, but if you’re trying to use up an ingredient, you may need to get creative. Combining sweet and savory items, like chicken with peaches, noodles with peanut butter, or spinach with strawberries, are all surprisingly tasty. Be bold and think outside the box when glaring at your unwanted cans and produce.

13. Have Pizza Nights

Image Credit: Cyapoj, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pizza is another kitchen-sink-type of meal where anything goes. If you think you can’t put fruit on pizza, think again. Pineapple, apples, pears, mango, and other fruits work on pizza. You can make pizza dough with simple ingredients and don’t even need cheese if you make a nice sauce.

14. Turn Everything Into a Pancake

M.A.C. Daddy Pancake Challenge
Image Credit: Magic Mikey.

This sounds dramatic, but you can turn almost anything into a pancake or fritter. Zucchini fritters, carrot fritters, sweet potato pancakes, scallion pancakes, chive pancakes, and eggplant pancakes are yummy ways to use veggies. Of course, you can always make traditional breakfast pancakes with fruit or pantry items, like chocolate chips or cinnamon.

15. Make On-the-Go Snacks

Trail Mix including peanuts, raisins, multicolored chocolate coated candies, and other morsels.
Image Credit: Famartin – CC 4.0/WikiCommons.

Rather than spending money on snacks, you can make them at home. Turn canned chickpeas into a crunchy snack, use leftover oats to make granola bars, or combine fruits, seeds, nuts, and candy for trail mix. If you have a dehydrator, go crazy making dried fruit and veggies!

16. Add Eggs for Breakfast

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Adding eggs to almost anything can turn it into a delicious breakfast. Throw all your leftover vegetables into a bowl of whisked eggs and make a fluffy frittata or quiche! Load your omelets with beans or make a creative benedict with avocados and jalapenos.

17. Embrace Sweet and Savory Pies

Breakfast Casserole
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Practically everything tastes good in pie form! Like casseroles, pies are large meals that can be made with most ingredients. Make a mixed fruit pie for dessert or a robust vegetable pie for dinner. There are more unorthodox pie recipes than you may think, like butternut squash pie, pineapple pie, and spinach pie.

18. Eat Unusual Sandwiches

Tsunami Sandwich Company, Seaside Oregon
Image Credit: Dareen Thielbar.

Sandwiches are one of the most versatile dishes in the world. Add tomatoes to your grilled cheese, or top your ham sandwich with cabbage. Make cucumber and butter tea sandwiches, or add beans and onions to your hot dog. Let your imagination run wild, and see what happens!

19. Start Jamming and Jellying

Apple and Blackcurrant crumble on a white plate.
Image Credit: Goddards Pies Ltd – CC 3.0/WikiCommons.

Okay, jamming and jellying aren’t actual words (at least, jellying isn’t), but we mean canning! Fruit on its way to being mushy and icky can find new life as a sugary jelly that you can use on crackers, sandwiches, and more. You can even make jam with certain veggies, like sweet potatoes or carrots.

20. Have Hearty Bowls

Beef Stew 1 scaled e1699023535182
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Buddha bowls, burrito bowls, gyro bowls, egg roll bowls, and sushi bowls are usually loaded with veggies and pantry items. Use up your rice, potatoes, salad dressings, canned vegetables, and fridge produce in one fell swoop with a plentiful and mouthwatering bowl for lunch or dinner.

21. Be Creative With Substitutions

A veggie burger with various toppings like onion, lettuce and pico de gallo paired with well-seasoned fries, plated on a white dish.
Image Credit: bradley j – CC 2.0/WikiCommons.

Did you run out of broccoli for your broccoli cheddar soup? Try green beans. Use cauliflower to make pizza dough or make zucchini noodles. Use chickpeas in place of cheese sauce or stuff eggplants instead of peppers. You don’t have to limit yourself to traditional recipes.

22. Pickle Your Veggies

jar of kimchi
Image Credit: Full of Plants.

If you have so many vegetables that one or two clever dinner ideas aren’t going to cut it, buy some vinegar and get to pickling! Cucumbers aren’t the only veggies you can pickle — try carrots, beets, tomatoes, onions, asparagus, peppers, radishes, and corn. You can even pickle fruits like blueberries and strawberries.

23. Invent New Pasta Dishes

Pasta with Broccoli
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Even if you’re not the type to conjure new recipes, experimenting with unorthodox ingredients and pasta usually turns into a yummy dish. You may not think your green olives or canned chickpeas make sense in a pasta dish, but try tossing in your leftover ingredients with your favorite pasta and a simple sauce.

24. Get Into Dumplings

Potato Dumplings
Image Credit: Maria Kovaleva/Shutterstock.

Many cultures have some form of filling wrapped in dough, such as samosas, gyoza, momos, pierogies, and Chinese dumplings. Whether you make the wrappers or dough from pantry staples or buy them pre-made, you can fill them with practically any vegetable from your fridge or pantry and have a fun meal. Or, make dessert dumplings with fruit.

25. Rely on Simple Base Foods

Chicken fried rice on dinner plate, fork, knife, eat, food
Image Credit: New Africa/Shutterstock.

Simple base foods include rice, pasta, grits, potatoes, and similar items that go with practically everything. If you have strange produce or pantry staples, odds are you can make them work with one of the humble base foods mentioned. If you’re trying to get rid of these base ingredients, one flavorful ingredient can transform them into a tasty dish.


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