Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Getting Creative - Using up the Old

 I have told you I am working on using up older items that I have in the deep dark crevices of the pantry and freezer!!  Spooky!!!!  Stuff gets shuffled around at every cleaning - and well, things start getting older.  
I have absolutely NO problems using things that are past "best by" dates.  
Most all of the meat in my freezer has been vacuumed sealed and it lasts and lasts.  Now there are a few things that have not been sealed and they need to be used or just go bad.  That is money - and I can't stand that!
I have steaks that I got for Glen - and you know that they are older!  They are vacuum sealed and look great.  I am NOT a steak eater!  I will be using those in stews and soups and crockpot meals this winter.  

So here we go.  Not all products got photographed before/after using.  Sorry.  But at least I got a pic or two.
  The crust and Cool Whip had been in freezer since early spring.  Cream cheese was just a little past date.  I added a can of peach pie filling and made a no bake cheese cake.  I didn't get a picture after - it was so good and shared it with the neighbor.

I used these ingredients with chicken and made a Mex. style chicken.  Ranch mix has been around for a while (I have a bunch) and I did remove a little freezer burn from the chicken.  It tasted wonderful when done.
Soup was shoved to the back of pantry (I have a few of them) and it was used to make a sort of enchilada.  Pudding used to make milkshake and rolls and older apples used to make tasty dessert bites.

Mex. chicken was made with the chicken - which I trimmed up - and corn, beans, salsa (homemade) and ranch dip mix in the crockpot.  I love that stuff as it can be used in many ways.
                                                           Mex. chicken over rice
                                                     Mex/ chicken used in soft tacos

I had a box of quick cook long grain and wild rice.  I decided to use it up as I have regular cook long grain in frig.  This little box of rice got used in 3 meals.
                       Chicken strips, seasoned long grain and wild rice and sliced tomatoes.
           Added a few frozen peas to some of the rice and had it with a burger and tomatoes.
Added the balance of the rice to this meal.  Beans and a little rice in tortillas - then toped with rice and that can of Progresso Chicken & Cheese Enchilada soup (above).  Topped with sour cream and chopped tomatoes.  My 'sort of' enchiladas!  Super tasty.
Froze balance for another day.

I pulled some deli turkey out of the freezer on day and made a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich (no pic) and had it with some leftover in jar - homemade slaw and sliced tomatoes.

The balance of the turkey went on my 'sort of' pizza!
Hoagie bun - turkey, a little pepperoni, chopped olives and a bit of onion, salsa left in a jar in frig and a thinly sliced tomato and  odd bits of cheese.  Baked.  It sure was tasty for just odds and ends.

Those cinnamon rolls (dated April) and a couple older apples became yummy cinnamon/apple bites.
I cut the rolls in half and sliced each apple into 8 pieces.  Wrapped the roll piece around each slice of apple and baked.  Added a little icing when done.
Tasted like a combo cinnamon roll/apple pie.
                                                           Two bites and it's gone!  

I used the sugar free pudding mix (instant) to make an unconventional milkshake. (no pic).  I used about a cup of milk - poured in part of the pack of pudding - I didn't measure (can prob. estimate 1/3).  added several ice cubes and blended.  It was quite tasty and a nice no calorie treat!  You can use any type of pudding mix - you can add a banana or fruit too - you could mix pudding flavors.  Not super duper thick, but a nice treat for sure!  Cold and creamy.

I found a bag of faux crab in the freezer.  The last one I had.  
I thawed it and made crab salad.  I added a little onion, some frozen peas, mayo, ranch dressing, seasoning.  Super easy and super good.
                      Crab salad and tomato sandwich.  Bread wasn't real big - I ate 2!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leftover crab salad got turned into hot crab dip.  I added some sour cream, a couple types of cheese (what was left of each) and a few chopped jalapenos.  Heated and I ate it with crackers one day for a meal.  Oh my - yumminess!
I then had a small baked potato topped with remainder of crab dip and a cuke and tomato salad on another day.

A couple weeks ago I took a single serving can of bean w/bacon soup and used it (as is - no water added) to top rice.  The soup had been around a while.  I have a couple more of these and will use them up this fall.  This was a tasty and quick meal.

So there you have it - my digging deep and trying to get creative.  I hate waste.  I love being creative and I am not really picky.  This has just been a few items over the past couple weeks.

Holiday sales and fall/winter sales should be starting up soon.  I always like to get those goodies - well, I can't justify to myself, if I have older stuff not being used.  So I am USING it UP!!!!
It is nice to have different meals and nice to use things and clear out some older stuff.
** Don't be put off if you have a 'little' freezer burn on meat.  Cut it off and use remainder.  I have found that if marinated or used in a nice seasoned dish - it tastes perfect.  No off taste at all.  No waste.

Dig deep in those corners and crevices and pull out the things that are in need of using.  Dig deep in that freezer.  Get creative!!  You can really have fun with this and make some new and creative meals.  Who knows - they may become family favorites!



  1. I love this post. It gave me ideas. Where the chicken fingers made from scratch or what?

    1. The ones pictured were not. I usually have a bag of breaded ones around for a quick meal. I do my own often.
      Flour, bread crumbs and cornmeal and seasoning mixed. Dip in egg and then flour mix 2X - fry or bake. They are so stinking good!
      Glad you got some ideas!

  2. Thanks for the ideas! Yesterday I used leftover long grain and wild rice (cooked) and veggies (steamed) with 2 cans of chicken and rice soup (from the back of the cabinet) and about 2 cups of homemade chicken broth (from the freezer door) to make a large pot of soup that was lunch yesterday... and today.

    Your freezer steaks can become crock pot stews, soups, or even chili during the cooler months, which can also become tacos or enchiladas (from the chili) or pot pies (from the stews), etc. And leftovers of thawed, cooked meats can be refrozen safely for use in a few months.

    Do you ever freeze eggs? And if so, what's the best way to do that? --Elise

    1. Good for your. That sounds like my kind of cooking! Using what you have to make something new!!
      Oh yes, those steaks will for sure get used in crock pot meals. I will use a lot like stew meat. Love your thinking!!

      I sure have frozen eggs. I use my muffin pan - I crack one egg (I always get large or x-lg. per muffin spot prick the yellow just so it isn't solid. Freeze. When frozen if they don't pop out easily set pan in some warm water for maybe 2 minutes. They I layer them in gallon bags - use what you have. Take out what you need for frying or baking. (Thaw in frig).

  3. You are so creative. I really need to do this. I have several cans of beans that need to be used up and I have been trying to do a bean casserole regularly and also add beans to taco meat and soups, but I need to work harder at this.

  4. Great creative ideas. Thanks for sharing! I've seen posts on Facebook of people placing cinnamon rolls in a circle and rolling them out to form a pie crust for apple pie. There's always something to use to make pie!!!!

    1. That is actually what gave me the idea. I figured I would EASY it up and just do it my way. Same great taste!

  5. Replies
    1. Why yes you can - you have to like kitties though!
      Not anything that we can't all do!

    2. One of the reasons I love your blog is that you're so innovative ~ you certainly have a way w/leftovers. PS My husband says I have to stay here and cook for him. :-(

  6. All of those dishes look delicious, Cheryl. You’re just like me, I love using up that stuff and not wasting it. I don’t buy steaks or cook them at home because I don’t think I cook them to where they taste good, but if someone wants to make me one, I’ll go for that. LOL

    1. I just can't stand waste. There are so many creative things we can do with what we have. It saves money, doesn't waste and we get some new dishes to eat. WIN-WIN in my book!

  7. Oh my goodness..what great creativity! I like to menu plan but always seem to deviate as those leftovers need using up. But, girl,I can't keep up with your inventiveness! Keep these Wonderful ideas coming. I plan to duplicate some and have gotten some new ideas of my own. Thanks so much!

    1. Thank you. I wish I was a planner - but I am not. Not more than a day ahead!!!!
      I will try to keep you all informed as I use up the dark parts of the pantry!!!! It has been kind of fun!
      Glad you got a few ideas!

  8. Great ideas! Living alone I find it's much easier to use up all those bits & pieces in "creative" ways! I am currently going through my pantry to use up a few of those items that seem to get lost in the back - so far - so good.

    1. Good for you. It is much tougher to use things up being alone. Being a bit creative and not picky helps!

  9. Thanks for the ideas. I need to think outside the box like you. Trying my best to not waste anything and so far that is working out. Anything left over is used for another meal. Depending on amount either for lunch for one of us or supper for the two of us.

    God bless.

    1. You are welcome. Good for you on using it up. Lunches are a great way as well. Waste not - want not!

  10. Your cinnamon roll apple treats look fabulous! Have not seen the enchilada soup in the stores but it would be great to keep on hand to use in other ways. I have some Wolfgang Puck French onion soup that is not really good on its own but an excellent jumping off point for other dishes. Found some par cooked small potatoes in the freezer and pulled them out to thaw...will fix them tomorrow with sausages and a newly found jar of kraut tucked away in a cabinet.

    Looks like rain all day tomorrow. Who knows, it may go around us again.

    1. Canned soups can make great starting points for other meals. I love homemade soup - but canned does have some perks.
      That sounds tasty.
      It hasn't stopped raining here since last night and doesn't look like it will any time soon!

  11. I was defrosting my chest freezer and found a ham that was 8 months out of code. I looked up if it was safe to eat on several different web sites. They all said not to eat it.
    Now I have no problem eating out of code food. I do it all the time.
    But pork makes me nervous.
    I found a government web site that said if it's cryo sealed,it's good for years!!
    I roasted that baby up and it was fabulous.
    Right now with prices skyrocketing,I can't find a ham I can afford! That would have been an awful waste.
    Perhaps you could dedicate a post about
    Meat expiration dates.

    1. So happy you didn't throw it away! Yes basically like vacuumed sealed - so good for ages. People are so easy to waste food. I am glad you continued to research and saved it!!!!!!
      Ham will probably get cheaper around Christmas (hopefully) so maybe you can find an affordable one then.
      I will research that! Great idea!

  12. Cheryl, I have a request. My husband and I both are real suckers for unusual condiments and seasonings/spices. Seems to call our names when in the store or we buy instead of souvenirs when traveling. However, I find I seem to always have half to two thirds languishing in either the frig or spice cabinet. I would really appreciate ways you use up those items when cooking or suggestions from others. Thanks!

    1. I wish I knew some of what you had - it would be easier to advise. Perhaps substitute a different meat or pasta or veggie. Maybe use something different (seasoning) in a basic dish like regular chili or pulled pork.
      You just have to play around a little.

  13. Just wanted to let you know my husband and I tried your quick recipe with cinnamon rolls and apple slices. We loved it! Thanks for posting it.