Saturday, March 19, 2011

Waste not......

I can spend quite a bit of money on food. Like most people trying to raise a family on one income in this economy, I try to buy everything when it's on sale. But even limited funds don't stop me from buying an expensive cut of meat.....just because it sounds good. I'm a well rounded foodie - expensive or cheap, I make the best of every ingredient.

But truth be known, I am extremely frugal by nature. I hate throwing anything away that can be used. Almost to a fault. I have a hard time throwing ANYTHING away. But I'm the worst when it comes to food. Yes, I throw away the stuff that's gone bad. But I never toss something just because there really isn't enough left in the bottom of the box/bag/jar/what have you. I always assume there is something I could do with it.

The one thing that I really have a hard time throwing away is all the broken bits of cereal at the bottom of the package. You know the stuff that looks like this:

I mean seriously......think of all the "corn flake coated chicken" recipes out there that call for you to put perfectly good cornflakes in a bag and beat them to a pulp with a rolling pin! Surely, there is a use for all those crumbs left in the bottom of the bag, right?

I remember using the broken cornflakes to coat chicken & french fries with my mom as a kid. I remember using various cereal crumbs in muffins & streusel toppings. But it wasn't til one time I had bought a box of shredded wheat with my own money and saw that literally HALF the package was reduced to tiny little crumbs in the bottom of the bag, that I realized how wasteful it would be to throw it away. And no, eating it in a bowl with honey & milk like I do the big shredded wheat was not an option. That is way too mushy for my tastes. :)

So I decided to use those crumbs as the "flour" in some muffins. They were so yummy & healthier than using all-purpose flour. And it made me feel like I wasn't throwing away a lot of money simply because the cereal wasn't useable in it's intended form.

I've made these muffins a variety of ways. My absolute favorite is cranberry orange. Those flavors just go really well with the the texture of the shredded wheat. But feel free to take this recipe and use your own add-in choices (believe me, I've probably made them all from blueberries to blackberries to apple cinnamon to chocolate chip........the possibilities are endless!) I've even made just the base recipe without any "flavor" and served it along side a big bowl of fruit salad in the summer.

And bare with me......I actually planned ahead and took a couple pics. This is my first experiment with prettying up the recipe! I hope to get better & more creative as time goes on!

Cranberry-Orange Shredded Wheat Muffins

1 cup flour
3/4 cup of broken shredded wheat (frosted or not)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar (possibly a little less if using frosted shredded wheat)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup applesauce or canola oil
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
zest & juice of one orange
1-2 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients just until moistened. Spoon into muffin cups, about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a little sugar (I used my homemade vanilla sugar - recipe to follow!). Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Vanilla Sugar

1 vanilla bean, scraped (or whole if you desire!)
2 cups of sugar

And what better time to include my vanilla sugar recipe than a blog about not wasting anything. Next time you use a vanilla bean for a recipe, don't throw away the bean after you scrape out the seeds. Put it in an airtight container with 2 cups of granulated sugar. Shake the container from time to time. Can be used right away, but is better after a week or so. That simple! I keep it in my spice cabinet and use it in my coffee, cereal, or for sprinkling desserts & muffins. Enjoy!

To make another variety of muffin omit the cranberries, orange juice, and zest. The muffins are great by only using the first 9 ingredients, or you can use your imagination for other varieties. These muffins can get very crumbly, so you may need to adjust the wet ingredients if using whole wheat flour, or adding a lot of wheat germ, oat bran, flax seed, and other healthy stuff.

I hope this recipe inspires you the next time you start to throw away something that can be used in a different way! :)


  1. cute.....great layout, effort and intellegent.

  2. This post has inspired me to make muffins for my kids' breakfasts! They are going to go nuts next week! Thank you.