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Cleaning out the fridge? Before you toss those nearly empty jars, bottles and containers, check out these tasty and clever ways to use every last drop. You’ll save money and reduce waste—it’s a win-win!

It’s a good idea to do a major refrigerator cleanout once a season, and early spring is the perfect time for a thorough scrub down. You don’t want old food turning into science experiments, and clearing out those shelves and drawers will make room for the fresh ingredients you’ll need for lighter summer menus and dishes.

As you clean, check expiry dates to see what’s still usable. Toss anything that’s past due, and then plan the following week’s menu around the condiments, dressings and jams that are still good. Using up these last bits will not only make meal planning easier but also provide an economical way to avoid wasting food. Because really, throwing out food is like tossing your loonies in the trash.

Turn hot sauce into sweet-and-spicy Asian-inspired marinade.

Mix 2 tsp (10 mL) hot sauce with 1/4 cup (60 mL) soy sauce, then add a pinch of ginger and brown sugar.

Use leftover jam or jelly to:

  • Make thumbprint cookies.
  • Fill the centres of the cookies with a variety of flavours—whichever ones you have on hand.
  • Make savoury sauces and marinades.
  • Add 1 tbsp (15 mL) to your standby marinade for just the right amount of sweetness.
  • Make a sweet topping for meat.
  • Try mint jelly with lamb, cranberry jelly on pork chops or turkey, and marmalade on chicken.

Use salad dressing as marinade.

Just 1/4 cup (60 mL) leftover dressing can do the tenderizing and flavouring work.

Turn tomato sauce into minestrone soup.

Mix tomato sauce with 4 cups (1 L) chicken or vegetable stock, then add 1/2 cup (125 mL) small cooked pasta, and 1 cup (250 mL) finely diced vegetables (such as zucchini and celery).

Add pickle juice to:

  • Potato salad or coleslaw dressing.
  • A few tablespoons is all you need. This age-old trick adds just the right amount of sweet and sour.
  • Your Caesar.
  • The classic brunch-time cocktail will taste better than ever with just 1 tbsp (15 mL).

Turn barbecue sauce into:

  • A sandwich spread.
  • Mix it with equal parts hot sauce and yellow mustard.
  • Killer chili.
  • Dump in the last of the bottle to add depth to either con carne or vegetarian versions.

Use Dijon mustard to:

  • Make your next batch of mac ’n’ cheese.
  • Just 1 tsp (5 mL) will add some kick and sharpness to your pasta, without creating any mustard flavour.
  • Make a sweet glaze for chicken.
  • Blend 2 tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard with 1/4 cup (60 mL) honey.
  • Make a quick Dijonnaise.
  • Stir together 2 tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard and 1/2 cup (125 mL) mayo—it’s delicious on a burger.

Use pesto as a soup garnish.

A dollop on top is a traditional Mediterranean way to serve the dish.

Add salsa to your scrambled eggs.

A few tablespoons add great flavour and bite with very few calories.

Turn alfredo sauce into a creamy rosé sauce.

Mix 1/4 cup (60 mL) alfredo sauce with tomato sauce, and use it on pasta.

Turn ketchup into a creamy dip.

Combine 1/2 cup (125 mL) ketchup with 1/4 cup (60 mL) mayo, 1 minced garlic clove, salt and pepper to taste, and 3 tbsp (45 mL) chopped herbs (such as parsley and chives)—it’s awesome with shrimp.

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