How to Use Your Holiday Ingredients Now

Posted by Kristen on January 16, 2013

Even if you always try to save money on groceries to keep food costs low, if you’re anything like me, you probably bought a few extra ingredients throughout the holiday season. With making special treats, entertaining family and friends, and cooking holiday meals, it’s hard not to make a few extra purchases on food. But now that the holidays are over, you might be looking at holiday ingredients and thinking what are you going to do with them now? Before you toss them or waste them, here are some things you can do with common holiday ingredients


Source: Kristen

Brown Sugar

Why you bought it:
If you were baking cookies or anything else over the holiday, there’s a good chance you needed light or dark brown sugar for your recipe. Those candied yams you made on Thanksgiving or Christmas also required this special sugar.

How to store it:
A cool, dark place is the best place to store brown sugar. It should also be tightly wrapped to avoid air exposure.

What to do with it now:

  • Sprinkle brown sugar over plain oatmeal in the morning.
  • Combine brown sugar with a little butter, water, and salt to make a glaze for carrots or other vegetables, salmon, and fruit.
  • Mix brown sugar with cream cheese and top plain, cinnamon, or blueberry bagels.
  • Combine brown sugar and butter to add to toast or English muffins.
  • Mash sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and a bit of butter.


Why you bought it:
Just like brown sugar, cinnamon may have been involved if you were baking cookies, breads, or cupcakes.

How to store it:
Just like with brown sugar, cinnamon should be stored in a tightly sealed container in a place that is dry, cool, and dark. Ground cinnamon lasts approximately 12 months and cinnamon sticks tend to keep for one year.

What to do with it now:

  • Sprinkle in your coffee grounds or right in coffee already brewed for a kick.
  • Add a teaspoon to a pound of cooked ground beef and a jar of pasta sauce for a unique tasting sauce.
  • Smash cinnamon with bananas.
  • Mix with white or brown sugar and butter for cinnamon sugar spread for waffles, toast, bagels, or anything else.

Pumpkin Pie Seasoning

Why you bought it:
Anything along the lines of pumpkin pie required this spice that consists of ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

How to store it:
Whether you bought it in the store or made it yourself, be sure the container is closed and sealed well. Store in a cool, dark place, just like with most seasonings. Use your nose to determine if the seasoning is still good. If you smell it, and it’s not as potent, it may not be as tasty in your dish.

What to do with it now:

  • Mix pumpkin pie seasoning into mix prepared pancake or waffle mix.
  • Sprinkle seasoning over vanilla bean ice cream.
  • Liven up cool whip by adding pumpkin pie seasoning and gently stirring.
  • Add to your coffee grounds to make a pumpkin pie flavored coffee in the morning.
  • Sprinkle seasoning and a little sugar over cut up apples. Bake on 250 degrees until the apples are soft and perfect for a snack.
  • Besides pumpkin pie, use it in cookies, breads, or cakes.


Why you bought it:
Walnuts, as well as other types of nuts, are a common purchase over the holidays. First, they’re used a lot in baking cookies and breads. Second, they are commonly put out at holidays or even make appearances in a lot of gift baskets.

How to store it:
The best place to store walnuts is in your refrigerator, or if you’re not planning on using them soon, in the freezer. If you didn’t open the package, you can leave them in the original bag. If you opened them, replace with an airtight container. It’s best to not chop or grind the nuts until you are ready to use them.

What to do with it now:

  • Put walnuts in the food processor, grind until a powder consistency. You can use this like bread crumbs to coat fish or chicken and fry.
  • Chop up and add to pancake or waffle mix along with slices bananas.
  • Use walnuts to top oatmeal or other cereals.
  • Dip pretzel rods into melted chocolate, sprinkle with chopped walnuts, and let harden for walnut and chocolate covered pretzels.
  • Toss into chicken salads or any type of lettuce based salad.


Why you bought it:
I always buy the bulk sized crackers around the holidays for cheese and crackers or other dips. By the time the holidays are over, even as much as I love cheese, I want to do something else with them.

How to store it:
A sealed container or bag is the best place to prevent them for going stale or getting crumbly.

What to do with it now:

  • Grind up until fine. Coat chicken or fish for a cracker breading. Bake and fry until fully cooked and crispy.
  • Use crackers in place of bread crumbs in meatballs or a meatloaf.
  • Layer with a little bit of peanut butter and jelly for mini sandwiches perfect for a kid’s after school snack.
  • Crumbled crackers make a great top crust for baked pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese.
  • Combine crumbled crackers with leftover flaky fish, like salmon. Mix with a touch of mayo, lemon juice, and seasonings like chives or dill. Form into patties, and fry until golden brown for a salmon cake.

Vanilla Extract

Why you bought it:
Vanilla extract probably appeared in your cart for baking chocolate chip cookies or another type of dessert.

How to store it:
Vanilla extract doesn’t expire, but it should be stored in cool, dark, dry place. You may have noticed that you always use a small amount in baking. That’s because a little really does go a long way with this ingredient. It contains alcohol, and it can really overwhelm if you use too much. Just add a little bit at a time to see.

What to do with it now:

  • Add a little tiny amount to hot chocolate.
  • Mix with egg and milk. Dip bread into it, and fry for classic French toast.
  • Add into salad dressings to sweeten them up a bit.
  • Add to cream cheese and sugar for a cream cheese icing that works on cupcakes, cookies, or bagels.
  • Marinate berries in a mixture of water, vanilla, and brown sugar for an easy, healthy dessert.

What are ingredients you buy around the holidays? How do you use them up before going bad?

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Comments to How to Use Your Holiday Ingredients Now

  1. I wanted to share one tip I picked up in a cooking magazine. I could never keep brown sugar from hardening up, so pretty useless after one use. The trick is to place a marshmallow in the bag of brown sugar, just plop it right in there, and seal up the bag nice and tight. Now, I’ve got nice soft, ready-to-use brown sugar anytime I need it! (I think it absorbs moisture in the package.) Sweet! Hope this helps!

    Penny Matzelle

  2. I’d never thought of brown sugar, cinnamon, or vanilla as special holiday foods–around here they’re just our common currency. Sounds like you’d have the makings for a couple of good streusel coffeecakes, maybe, or cinnamon rolls, or–I know–Coffeecake Muffins, with the walnuts.

    And if people do have fancier ingredients hanging around–don’t forget that Valentine’s Day comes up pretty quickly, and that’s always a good excuse to use up candy and chocolate.

    Mama Squirrel

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