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Leftover Cereal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently on Care2, I wrote a post called Does Your Annual Food Waste Exceed Your Body Waste? It has some pretty scary statistics on the amount of food that we waste in the developing world. We always try to keep the amount of food that we waste to a minimum and I'm always frustrated when I end up having to throw good food away. Overall, I think we do quite well. Well enough, in any case, that when Julian recently went to put something in the garbage can and noticed a pile of mouldy bread in there, he said "What is all this food doing in the garbage?" That said, he is also the one who frustrates me the most when it comes to food waste, for example arriving home day after day with the yoghurt I sent him for a snack still in his lunchbox and very warm at the end of a long day.

I'm always on the lookout for things that can help us reduce our food waste. I already freeze a lot of things, like pieces of leftover sausage or cooked chicken that can be easily added to another dish on another day. We also freeze a lot of fruit if it looks like it will go bad before we have the chance to eat it and I then use that fruit later in smoothies or baking. I also take the ends of the bread that no one wants to eat and put them into a bag in the freezer and then toss that bread into the food processor when a recipe I'm using calls for bread crumbs.

This morning I was making breakfast for my family and noticed that we had way more boxes and bags of cereal than we needed in the cupboard and that most of them hadn't been touched in a while. When I pulled them all out, I noticed that most of them didn't even have one full serving of cereal in them. I figured that I could probably use all of the leftover cereal to make cookies or muffins, so I searched online to find a recipe and found a Cookies from Leftover Cereal recipe on CheapCooking.com. I used whole wheat flour for the flour (the recipe didn't specify which kind) and used a mixture of dark chocolate chips and the President's Choice Mini Peanut Butter Melts for the chocolate chips. I used the leftovers of four different kinds of cereal, most of which were different organic muesli type cereals and one that was the crumbs left in the bottom of a box of Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Squares.  I think that cranberries would be an excellent addition to the cookies too. I also meant to add a few tablespoons of flax seed to them, but forget to get it out (I'm easily distracted  by mini-bakers helping me).

The result was around 50 absolutely delicious cookies that my kids just love. I guess these would fall into the category of what passes as "breakfast cookies", although I don't think I would serve them as breakfast. On top of the sugar that is already in the cereal itself (not as bad as some brands mind you, and at least not high fructose corn syrup), the recipe adds more sugar and fat (butter) and puts it firmly in the sweet treat category for me. But so delicious!

My Care2 post has a few tips on reducing your food waste. Do you have any other tips or great recipes that you use to get rid of the leftovers?
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Reader Comments (11)

Our household is simply awful at food waste. It's something I am working on but I find recrufgerated items go to waste most. I keep
Glass jars for dry foods including granola so they don't go stale often and are easy to notice when
There's only a little left. Things like beans and meat go to waste most (though by go to waste I mean they end up as dog food) because it always seems there is some
Leftover and nobody wants to eat that again. I like
Your idea of refreezing things. I need to
Do this with the kid's veggie sausage, I bet it would refreeze perfectly instead of making the dog eat it.

June 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVioletsouffle

This isn't something I relate to at all. Maybe it's because I don't eat bread and therefore lunch is leftovers or a derivation of leftovers, but we pretty much throw out only peelings, bones and egg shells. Stuff does go back occasionally but clearly not in the same way others are used to. "Nobody wants to eat that again"? That does not compute at all. I prefer not to have the same meal twice in a row, but that's pretty easy to arrange unless you are a pizza for breakfast kind of person. If it's food, even a tablespoon of gravy gets saved.
We even finish anything left on our toddler's plate. But we don't eat anything that's been prechewed by the toddler!

I make cereal cookies too, but I have to buy the cereal on purpose - multiple boxes of half opened cereal of less than a serving? I can't even begin to imagine how that would happen. Do we just buy things in smaller
packages? Fascinating, anyway.

June 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary @ Parenthood

How does it happen?

We don't buy the same cereal all the time. We like to try different kinds. So, if I notice we are getting low on cereal, I pick up a box/bag the next time I'm out. If I look in the cupboard and there isn't enough in the almost empty box to fill a bowl for my kid's breakfast (I don't eat cereal that often), then I open the new box and the old one gets shoved back a bit in the cupboard.

I'm not sure how that would be different if I bought it in a smaller package. I think the same thing would happen.

June 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I've just made an eclectic bowl of cereal. Not enough of one type for a bowl? Mix all that is left!! LOL!

June 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSmoaksmom

Chocolate. Cereal. Cookies. Okay, sounds good. Can you send me some? I mean, you HAVE 50!! ;)

June 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelly @kellynaturally

yum. Am going to go raid my freezer for some biccies I made last night now that I have remembered them!

We try our best not to waste too much but I think I don't plan enough. I just buy what takes my fancy then try my best to use if up through the week. We have the most trouble with fresh stuff. Problems arise when we are invited out to dinner or just don't feel like doing the prep work so do an easy meal...the veges just get older and less appealing.

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I am going to try these today! On the leftovers side of things, we manage to use almost all our food by planning our meals for the week that use similar ingredients.
For example, tacos on monday and use the left over cilantro for thai stew on tuesday.
We also have omlette fridays where we use up all the random extra ingredients of the week.

July 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate

What a great post. I hope the green movement starts to shift its focus on food waste - it is shocking.

I have really been working on minimizing food waste in my house. It kicked off with skimming a book called American Wasteland. Some of the things I've been doing to help minimize are
(1) make a weekly menu and buy ingredients for the recipes (we only eat meat once a week so that helps too) - this started with managing our grocery budget (which was out of control) and it has helped our pocketbook, waistlines and the environment. If you keep a notebook of your menus you can refer back when you run out of ideas.
(2) keep 1-2 boxes of cereal on hand - usually a granola-based and then Cheerios - this helps us be more creative with breakfast ideas
(3) make a list of foods you can make from scratch with your staple items - homemade pancakes are flour, eggs, salt, milk, baking powder
(4) use canned or frozen fruits and vegetables (unless they are on your meal plan or you know they will get eaten - hello fresh strawberries)
(5) have a contest with yourself to use all the canned items in your pantry (I have 2 cans of garbanzo beans and a large can of diced tomatoes)
(6) limit yourself to 2 shelves in your pantry
(7) clean your fridge out every week so you know what you have and what is going to expire soon
(8) limit your snacks - I have eliminated crackers (e.g. triscuits) from the grocery list - we ate them too fast and they add up fast for cost. I make a list of snacks so that when I hear "we don't have anything to eat, I can point to the list" - string cheese, almonds, pretzels, popcorn (to make on stovetop - this is a family favorite), choc. chips (for that sweet tooth), and nuking some frozen fruit and adding plain yogurt and honey.
(9) instead of moving food from fridge to trash, move it to the bottom basket of your freezer to remind you of what you don't eat (but throw it out eventually)

Having bare cupboards and lots of space in your fridge is strangely empowering.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHope

But why not eat the last amount of cereal? That's the part I don't get. If it's not a full bowl, then we usually have two smaller bowls of different kinds or a mix for breakfast. But that actually rarely happens; towards the end of the box we might have a smaller second last bowl of cereal so that we end up with two slightly smaller bowlfuls instead of one normal sized and one partial bowl.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary @ Parenthood

My trick is to try to minimize the use of my freezer. Freezer burn and forgetting what was in there used to eat up some of my (very limited) food budget and accounted for most of my wastage in the kitchen.

I love cooking from scratch (I guess you could call it one of my hobbies), so I try to eliminate relying on frozen foods. My freezer always has some frozen veggies and fruit (right now, that's the fresh strawberries I picked and froze last week), cooked and frozen beans (way cheaper than canned - freeze 'em in milk bags to save on those overpriced freezer bags), soup stock, and one or two "standby" meals (for when my partner has to cook), but overall I try not to fill it up too much. I've made a list of what's in the freezer and try to rotate the contents on a FIFO (first in, first out) schedule as much as possible to minimize waste and make me more mindful about what I put in there and when I plan on using it.

Also, I found not buying meat really cut down on my food waste - we only eat it once a week or so now, and often that will be canned tuna or a bought and prepared fresh piece of meat for the grill.

July 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlaura

[...] the meantime, in addition to sharing cookies with you yesterday, I thought I would share today’s journey of food from local farmers and our own backyard [...]

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