I am trying to do all I can to stretch our resources: reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose. I’m going to add another R word: rescue. This applies mostly to food, like ugly produce that even the farmers market can’t sell, expired groceries, and emergency food packets. Food rescue is by no means a new concept and can take many forms.
I present to you the (new) 5 R’s of the waste hierarchy:
Reduce – Reuse – (food) Rescue – Repurpose – Recycle
If you are down to feeding your kids the “emergency” prepared foods then you are probably doing more tummy filling than you are giving their little bodies what they need. Use these tips to healthify those white foods, carbs and starches. Hidden veggies never hurt anybody. Don’t get discouraged!
If you’ve been to the food pantry or received aid you may have gotten some questionable food products. There are some “grade D” and disaster preparedness foods that you can try to eat, if you have no tastebuds. So you tried them straight out of the package, and nobody liked them. And if there was a disaster and it was all the food you had, it would be awesome. But if you’re trying to get kids to eat something on Monday morning it needs to taste good. I swear sometimes (when they aren’t growing) my kids would rather live on air and light.
With a little resourcefulness you can make these food tasty, as well as add some nutrition. If your cupboards are bare you will have to pick and choose what you have the ingredients to attempt. Take a look at the fridge and pantry with an open mind and a creative heart.
We have some smallish bags of instant pancake mix. One bag makes 26 pancakes and you add 2 1/3 cup water. To feed our family of six I made two bags. To have leftovers to freeze I should have made three. The boxes of mix at the store are bigger than this. I always keep some of the just-add-water mix in my pantry for emergencies, because sometimes (all the time), I’m a space cadet and just run out of eggs.
Just-Add-Water Pancake Mix Rescue:
- I substitute half of the water with apple sauce. In many baking recipes you can safely substitute half of the oil or one egg for apple sauce. You can just taste a little sweetness from it and it alters the texture a tiny bit
- You can sub a little milk or greek yogurt for some of the liquid if you have some to spare
- Brown sugar
- If you have the grade D blueberries, which are frozen and don’t have much flavor, they do ok in pancakes. I assume because you serve them warm that helps, because in cold muffins they are not good at all. Blech
- Leftover sweet potato or pumpkin
- Grated apple and cinnamon, or zucchini
- Sliced banana
- Diced canned peaches or fruit salad (it’s not as weird as it sounds)
- Add a little grated carrot, raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon for some veggies in your breakfast
- Chocolate chips
- AND shredded coconut oooooh
- If you have wheat germ you can sprinkle a little in there for protein and fiber, this goes for muffins too
- You can grind up some oats (uncooked, rolled or steel cut) for your heart and fibereyness, just increase the liquid to get the batter right
- You can likewise add some wheat flour
Toppings, or roll the pancakes up with Fillings:
- You can use butter, margarine, or coconut oil to “butter” your pancakes. If you have none of those you can use a really thin spread of peanut butter (you can diy it but it isn’t cheaper) or applesauce (diy it)
- Greek yogurt (diy it) and honey mixed
- Yogurt (diy it) and berries mixed
- Toss those sub-par frozen blueberries (or other berries) in a little saucepan with some sugar and cook it down to a sauce/syrup (diy it, it’s wicked easy)
- Do the same thing with apples (diy it) and hit it with a little maple syrup at the end
- Do the same thing with canned peaches (diy it)
- Do the same thing with bananas (diy it)
- Top with peanut butter AND sliced bananas mmmm
- Any jam or jelly
- Cinnamon and sugar (I have a baby food jar of this mixed up, it only takes a little cinnamon); over applesauce, even
- Powdered sugar
- I always try to cook enough for two meals, if I’m doing all that work anyways I might as well only do the cleanup once.
- You can refrigerate leftovers and the kids can pop them in the toaster.
- I freeze pancakes and french toast wrapped well in plastic wrap in batches of four, with all of the batches in a ziploc bag. I don’t lose any to frostbite this way.
Learn more about food rescue, help prevent food waste, and provide food security:
FoodPantries.org Find your local food pantry – volunteer, donate, get help
Food to Donate connects restaurants and aid groups
Society of St Andrew call them if you have food to share, especially produce to be gleaned, not all states covered
Also take a look-see:
Frugal, Flexible Monthly Menu Planning
Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times
More With Less 7 Day Meal Plan
Vintage mason jar and grocery store basket graphics from The Graphics Fairy