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The Frugal Foodie: Don’t throw that out!

Amber Graefen


Mar 30th, 2017


We’ve all been there. We intend to make tasty lunches to tote to work and then healthy dinners each evening. But at week’s end we’re left with a lower bank balance from takeout as well as fridge food that’s lost its luster. Though we may never find a use for slimy spinach or furry flatbread, there are undoubtedly food items we could rejuvenate and repurpose if we only knew how.

Well, you’re in luck! The internet is teeming with ideas on how to resuscitate fading foods. Here are some favorite ways to go from wasting away to riches, so you can happily repurpose and soothe your conscience. Also, as a bonus, we’ve included three great tips for reusing food parts you normally discard.

Wasting away: Wilted greens
New life as: Fresh pesto

Before your greens get too ancient (no slimy leaves please), consider making a yummy pesto you can use today or freeze until your next party.

Easy Pesto

 easy pesto

2 cups greens
1/2 cup Signature Kitchen olive oil
1/2 cup grated Signature Kitchen Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until smooth.
Foodie tip: Some chefs recommend leaving out the cheese if you are freezing rather than using the pesto immediately. Add the cheese after defrosting.

Wasting away: Stale bread
New life as: Bread pudding or Baked French toast

This dessert is so good you’ll be tempted to leave a few slices of bread on the counter … accidentally. And this oven-baked French toast will make you a hero next time you have overnight guests.

Chocolate-chip Bread Pudding


2 cups stale bread, cubed
1 cup Lucerne milk
1 egg, beaten
1 handful (or more) of Signature Kitchen semi-sweet chocolate chips
cinnamon, if desired

Combine cubed bread, milk and egg and then add chocolate chips and stir to combine. Bake in an oven-safe dish at 350 degrees until the custard sets. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon, if desired.

Blueberry Cheesecake French Toast


8 to 10 slices dry bread, cubed
1 package Lucerne cream cheese
1/3 cup Signature Kitchen granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Signature Kitchen vanilla extract
1 cup O Organic frozen blueberries, tossed lightly with flour
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cup Lucerne milk
optional: O Organic maple syrup

Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Add a layer of cubed bread.

In a small bowl, blend cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Drop spoonfuls on top of bread.

In a small bowl, mix frozen blueberries with a small amount of flour until lightly coated. Add layer of blueberries in pan.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Pour evenly over bread mixture. Tamp down bread with a spoon to help soak up the mixture. If you planned ahead, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. If serving the same day, let mixture set at least 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 20 more minutes. Serve with warm maple syrup.

Wasting away: Overripe fruit
New life as: Quick breads

You probably know that an overripe banana makes the best banana bread. But did you know other mushy fruit can have a similar renaissance?

Yes, overripe strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches and more can be chopped or mashed and added to your favorite scone, muffin or loaf recipe. In fact, overripe fruit will inject more sweetness and flavor than if merely ripe. Just be sure to discard any berries or bits that have grown a beard. Here’s a delicious scone recipe to help you use your overripened produce.

Berry-delicious Scones


2 cups overripe berries, chopped
2 cups Signature Kitchen all purpose flour
3 tablespoons Signature Kitchen sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)
2 teaspoons Signature Kitchen baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons Lucerne cold butter
1 egg (plus 1 egg for egg wash)
2/3 cup Lucerne milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add butter, and using two knifes or a pastry blender, cut butter into dry mixture until thoroughly combined and dough becomes crumbly. Add the chopped fruit and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix 1 egg and the milk. Then add to the flour bowl. Combine the liquid into the dry mixture until a dough forms. Turn dough onto a floured surface and shape into a round 8-inch loaf. (If dough sticks to your hands, add a little more flour. If dough is too dry and doesn’t stick together, add a little more water.)

Cut the dough into 8 wedges. Place each wedge on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle lightly with sugar if desired. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

From discard to new life
Here are some items you normally discard but can give new life.

Discard: Coffee grounds
New life as: Mocha facial

The only thing better than chocolate in your coffee is this pair mixed into a facial.

Mocha Facial


2 tablespoons Signature Kitchen coffee grounds
2 tablespoons Signature Kitchen cocoa powder
3 tablespoons Lucerne cream or Lucerne whole milk
1 heaping teaspoon honey

Combine all ingredients and then apply to face. Let dry and then use a warm washcloth to gently remove. Splash face with cool water and pat to dry.

Discard: Top of a pineapple
New life as: Pineapple plant

Did you know you can grow your very own pineapple plant using the crown of a pineapple? Though it may take 2 to 3 years to bear fruit, you’ll have a pretty tropical plant in the meantime.

Pineapple Plant


pineapple (must be healthy looking with green leaves)
sharp knife
empty milk jug
potting soil
slow-release fertilizer

Cut top off the pineapple and trim leaves from bottom so about 3/4 inch of stem is showing. Then leave the crown on the counter for 2 to 3 days so the cut parts callus over and dry.

Fill jug with potting soil and add fertilizer per package directions. Plant the crown in the soil so the bare stem is underground. Water thoroughly and put in a sunny window. In summer, you can put outdoors in partial sun. Remember to repot the plant whenever it outgrows its space and bring it indoors before the weather gets cold.

Discard: Orange peels
New life as: Chocolate-covered candied orange peels

Oranges and chocolate is a match made in candy heaven. One secret to good candy is to peel your oranges with a vegetable peeler. It sounds weird but that way you avoid the bitter, white pith.

Chocolate-covered Candied Orange Peels

 orange peel

3 oranges
2 cups Signature Kitchen sugar plus 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons Signature Kitchen lemon juice
5 ounces Signature Kitchen semisweet chocolate
2 teaspoons Signature Kitchen vegetable oil

Peel oranges and cut the peel into strips. Drop into a saucepot of boiling water. Boil for 15 minutes. Drain the water and repeat the process. Remove peels and set aside.

In empty saucepot, create a syrup by bringing 1 cup water and 2 cups sugar to a boil. Lower heat to simmer. Add peels and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until liquid is almost gone. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and stir to coat. Drain and set aside.

Melt semisweet chocolate in microwave and then stir in 2 teaspoons vegetable oil. In another bowl, add 1/4 cup sugar. Roll each orange strip in sugar, then half the strip in melted chocolate and place on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. When filled, place sheet in freezer for several hours until chocolate sets.

2 Responses to The Frugal Foodie: Don’t throw that out!

  1. Tracey 06/04/2017 at 9:04 pm

    GREAT ideas to avoid food waste. Thanks, Jewel!

  2. Amber Graefen Amber Graefen 06/04/2017 at 9:15 pm

    No problem! It’s Earth month, we are trying many ways to reduce waste! 🙂

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