Everyone I know is spending way more time at home than they used to. Part of doing so means finally getting around to chores and DYI projects that have been left to languish in the wake of dealing with every day life. A recent extremely informal poll of friends and family found that nearly everyone I know is cleaning, sorting and organizing. All good stuff but I wonder, has anyone tackled the dreaded condiment drawer?
For the record, I’ve never had one, a kitchen drawer decided solely to the storage and forgetting of old packets of ketchup, hot sauce, soy sauce, sugar, sweeteners, creamers and more. One, I’ve never had the room in my tiny kitchen and two, I don’t do enough take out to collect enough to fill a drawer.
Recently, with a bit more take out in our daily lives (we really are trying to help sustain our favorite restaurants though this terrible ordeal), I have however, found myself with packets of…stuff. Now, we always say no thanks to condiments but somehow, busy restaurant workers (gosh, I hope they are busy) are still stuffing them in our takeout bags anyway.
I now have a little bowl on my countertop with condiment packets. This is one, so I don’t collect them into antiquity and two, so I use them up quickly. There is nothing more alarming that rooting around a friend’s kitchen drawer for a packet of sugar and finding a drawer full wrinkled old packets with the lettering worn off because it’s so old that its contents are no longer recognizable.
For pity’s sake throw out all those old condiments and free up another kitchen drawer and yes I am talking to you, frugal reader.
If those packets are somewhat new (meaning you can actually remember when you got them), I have some ideas below on how to use them up quickly.
Sugar. I happen to keep a decorative glass jar of sugar, with a tablespoon measure, near my stove. I use it for quick baking additions as well as cooking so I don’t have to haul out the giant sugar container from the pantry. While cooking in the evening, I will rip open new packets when I have them and add them to my sugar jar. It’s never more than a tablespoon or two but the sugar doesn’t go to waste and I am at the stove anyway.
Ketchup. I don’t recommend the hassle of trying to add those messy little packets to your ketchup jar. Simply squeeze what you have into what you are making that day. This works best for slow cooker recipes that require a bit of tomato paste or sauce or yes, even ketchup such as chili, stews, etc. I often add them to my Sunday pot roast.
Hot sauce. I use mine up in my Yogurt Quick Dip, recipe below. Also fine mixed into salsa for Taco Tuesdays or as a topping to spice up your entrée.
Mustard. We don’t normally get a lot of leftover mustard packets (those we do get are usually hot mustard from Chinese take out and will blow your sinuses sky high) but the regular mustard packets are the perfect addition to homemade vinaigrettes and salad dressings.
Soy sauce. I use up all packets of soy in all my homemade BBQ sauces or as a quick flavoring on rice.
Mayo. I use this in my Yogurt Quick Dip. A couple of packets will do nicely.
Liquid Creamer. I seem to get more than my fair share of these and I happily use them up in my Better-Than-Takeout Iced Coffee, recipe below.
Packets of powdered sweetener. I add these to my sugar bowl of fake sweeteners or use them to sweeten up my iced coffee, see liquid creamer, above. I don’t use them in baking because fake sweeteners don’t work like sugar.
Yogurt Quick Dip
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt (Greek is recommended)
1/4 low fat mayo or non-fat sour cream (four to six packets of mayo will work nicely here)
Spices of your choice: salt, pepper, onion powdered, red pepper flakes, dried oregano and thyme, whatever you prefer, in about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon measure amounts or to taste. Way to use up any packets of salt and pepper you somehow end up with too.
3-5 packets of take out hot sauce
Whisk everything together and refrigerate for several hours before using. I serve mine along side a selection of freshly cut raw veggies at dinner instead of the traditional salad. This strategy works great on picky kids who refuse to eat salad but will happily munch on sticks of raw veggies.
Better-Than-Takeout Iced Coffee
1 large ice cube of frozen coffee (great way to use up leftover coffee is to freeze it in ice cubes)
1 large ice cube of frozen coconut milk (you can use ice cubes of milk but coconut milk adds the best flavor and texture)
Regular leftover coffee at room temperature
2-3 tiny cartons of liquid creamer
Sweetener to taste
Whizz everything together in a blender until smooth and frothy. You can add liquid coffee flavoring such as caramel or hazelnut if you have it.
Frugal Tip: I generally wait for coconut milk to go on sale at my local grocery discount store, less than a $1 each. That’s when I buy a couple of cans and after shaking vigorously, freeze the contents into large ice cubes so I have what I need at the ready for summer iced coffee. I will freeze for 24 hours and after frozen, store the ice cubes of both coffee and coconut milk in sandwhich-sized freezer bags in my freezer.