December 2012: Thrifty in My Kitchen

It took me many years to understand the meaning of ‘Thrift’. For some reason, I always thought it was positively linked to ‘Spendthrift’. Not negatively.

Alas, I was wrong.

thrifty |ˈθriftē|

adjective ( thriftier , thriftiest )

1 (of a person or their behavior) using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully. See note at economical .

2 chiefly archaic dialect (of livestock or plants) strong and healthy.

• archaic prosperous.

It was a discussion on Food52’s Q&A app., ‘Hotline’ that alerted me to my misconception. It read How are you thrifty in the kitchen? I’d love to hear Food52’ers creative ways for making meals out of kitchen scraps and mistakes.


I didn’t contribute much to that discussion, after all I did have to consult my dictionary for some self-education. And then I put it all to good use. to be honest though, I’ve always been thrifty. Pineapple peels to juice? One example. Apple leavings to Pectin? Another.

This month, I am thrifty in the kitchen.

Thrift Tip #1: Left-over Nutella

I have memories of making this wonderful chocolate dump-it all cupcake tower, amplifying the chocolate with leftover nutella.

Cupcake tower
8 cupcakes for an 8th Birthday

To help me get the most out of the jar, I used a special Dutch instrument called the ‘flessentrekker’ – the bottle puller! The Dutch are some of the thriftiest people on this planet and they’ve devised a tool to clean out jars so nothing gets left behind.

My Dutch flessentrekker, costs under 2 euros and saves more!

Its consists of two parts – a long, metal rod about 60 cm, fitted with a flexible, silicone semi-circle which is detachable. The flexible rim on the semi-circle allows the tool to get into the narrowest corners, and the long rod ensures no vessel is too long, or deep.

Cleaning the jar

The resulting cake didn’t have a strong Nutella flavour, if any….but at least I used it up wisely!

Nutella, on the go!

Thrift Tip #2: Ginger juice

I have left over ginger juice, from a batch of candied ginger. It goes into two amazing things – ginger rice and a wonderful ginger drink which I read about on Chef Afrik. It is a recipe from Guinea called Guinean Ginger juice and involves using soaked liquid from grated ginger. This ginger juice is combined with sugar after an overnight rest, along with citrus juices – orange, lemons, lime.

It makes the best ginger ‘lemonade’ ever!

A variety of citruses

And the citrus skins? The skins are my Thrift Tip #3

A tale of two lemons. L: a regular lemon; R: a sweeter, yellower one

Thrift Tip #3: Candied and Sugared Citrus Peel

In my kitchen are lots of candied peel. I candied a hugeeeee batch of various citruses, once I was done juicing them. And then finished them off in different ways. Some were rolled in sugar, to form nice, tasty bites. But my favourite is a jar of sugar-preserved candied citrus. Not dissimilar to salt-preserved lemons, but the starting point this time is sugar-soaked citrus peel.

It is a wonderful addition to my Simmer & Stir Christmas cakes which are in the fresh out of the oven as I write.

L: Sugared-soaked candied citrus peel; M: Chopped, red maraschino cherries; R: Chopped up figs

Thrift Tip #4, 5 and ‘uncountable’.

I use leftover cinnamon sugar from rolling my churros in, for cinnamon rolls.

I add some water to almost-empty ketchup bottles and use in salsas and meatloafs; and I add milk to almost-empty yogurt bottles, for pancakes and waffles.

I could go on and on but I won’t.

Are you thrifty in your kitchen this month? What are your favourite ways to re-purpose things in the kitchen?

Thanks to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for the inspiration. She does a monthly ‘In My Kitchen’ feature and rounds up contributions. 

 [wpurp-searchable-recipe]December 2012: Thrifty in My Kitchen – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]


  1. I am so so glad it worked out. Isn’t it the most divine flavor of juice? As I begin my venture for 2013, cook an African meal each day of the year, I am definitely learning what it means to be thrifty! You have no idea!

  2. I am not as thrifty as my grandparents and mom but I do have some things that I am quite thrifty about. I freeze bones, onion and carrot peelings, and the ends of celery for stock. I compost so that it goes back in my garden. And I’m a master at reinventing leftovers so them seem like a whole new meal.

    But there is the produce in my fridge that doesn’t always get used and too many plastic storage bags…

    I love your thrifty ideas!

  3. I also want a flessentrekker. First I must learn to be thrifty and then to learn to pronounce flessentrekker….

  4. I am thrifty, but could be much more so! I am guilty of throwing out perfectly useful Zip Lock bags, instead of reusing them! (Hoping my public confession will shame me into reforming!) However I am an expert at using leftovers as inspiration for another meal. Salads, burritos, tacos, omelets and soups are menu staples at our house.

  5. Great article! I would love one of those gadgets to clean out my jars. I have been remiss lately in being thrifty. I think it will be a New Year’s resolution. Right now all I do is reuse my resealable plastic bags. I wash them and hang them on my outdoor clothesline to dry and sanitize. I save celery, onion, etc ends in a bag to make stock. I keep all chicken carcasses for stock, too.

  6. So many good ideas, dear Oz! 🙂 You have inspired me. 🙂 I am learning to be more thrifty, and on the days when I can’t think of anything, I have chickens and dogs that will happily eat the leftovers. 🙂

  7. Lovely post again Oz. It is also an eco friendly post:) I was just reading about all the waist that we have from left over foods.. and your post tells us how to recycle food!!! Love the chocolate cake… you know me a sucker for them.
    Have a lovely month leading to X mas…:0 I like that you are posting

  8. Great thrifty tips. Can’t say that I ever find myself in the position of having leftover Nutella though. Every last bit is cleaned out with my finger:-)

  9. Love these tips. And the dutch scraper- I’m always trying to get that last little bit out of the jar.
    I always consider my frugal and thrifty ways when cracking eggs- I always scoop out that last little bit of whites that stick inside the shell. So many people crack and toss- leaving in at least 1/2 a teaspoon of white!
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Lovely post, Oz! I love the Dutch bottle-puller – what a cool idea! I usually just stick my finger in the jar.. 😉 And the ginger lemonade sounds divine! xx

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