One of my biggest pet peeves is wasting food. I’ve been known to sit and finish the food my kids leave on their plates, just so it doesn’t end up in the trash. I know there are others like me out there, and for that reason, I wanted to make a post about using the odds and ends you might have in your cupboards or fridge to make meals and baked goods.
Below I’ve shared three of my go-to recipes when I want to use little bits of leftover ingredients, so they don’t go to waste. The first is a take on the classic Hello Dolly Bars, the second is an anything goes pasta bake, and the third is a great way to use up stale or less-than-perfect loaves of bread.
Anything Goes Hello Dolly Bars
Hello Dolly Bars are traditionally made with a graham cracker crust, chocolate chips, pecans, sweetened coconut and sweetened condensed milk. They are super easy and super delicious, but the recipe is pretty flexible. You can use more or less of any ingredients, and it’s easy to substitute any flavour. Use up old cereal or cookies for the crust. Use up any chocolate you might want to get rid of (bars, chips, wafers, etc). Got some almonds, pistachios, cashews, or other nut you might want to get rid of? Throw it in. Almost any sweet flavour will work.
Below is what I used in the picture, but definitely play with it!
1 1/2 cup cereal (I used cheerios with clusters)
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup of chocolate chips
Handful of pistachios
Handful of almonds
Handful of Oreo pieces
1 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
Crush whatever you are using as crust (graham crackers, cereal, crackers, oats, etc). Add to baking dish. I used 9×9.
Melt butter and pour overtop. Mix together, and press into an even layer.
Sprinkle your choice of add-ins on top. Whatever chocolate, cookies, nuts, marshmallows, or other sweet ingredients you are wanting to use up.
Top with shredded coconut, and pour approximately 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk over top. More or less of either is fine.
Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350, until the top begins to brown.
Allow to set before eating.
Clean the Fridge Pasta Bake
Pasta is a go to in our house. It is one of the only foods that makes everyone happy! With this recipe, you can throw in pretty much any vegetable, cheese, or tomato sauce you need to use up. Below I’ll explain my choice of ingredients , but again play with it.
3 cups uncooked pasta (any kind, even a mix, will do)
Veggies (pictured: half carrot, half zucchini, half onion, small tomato)
2 cups canned tomato1/3 cup sour cream (replaces creaminess of ricotta)
Pinch dried garlic flakes
Pinch dried onion flakes
Pinch dried parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup grated parmigiana (other cheese works too)
Cook pasta in salted water until almost fully cooked.
Sauté veggies to soften them.
Add tomatoes and spices to the veggies, or use a tomato sauce, and allow to heat.
Add in sour cream and cooked pasta, and stir.
Transfer to a baking dish, and top with the grated cheese.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes.
Salvage the Bread Croutons
This is a great way to use up stale bread or salvage a loaf that didn’t quite go right. Any kind of bread will do. My son likes to snack on these.
Bread (cut or torn into small pieces)
Place your small pieces of bread in a bowl.
Drizzle olive oil and pinches of spices on top. Mix thoroughly with hands, massaging the spices into the bread. Use a decent amount of oil.
Spread on a cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
All of these recipes are flexible. Use what you have, clean out your fridge or pantry, and have fun with it.
If you give this a try, let me know how it goes, and thanks for stopping by!