Wild Blueberry Oat Bars
This month’s Recipe Redux challenge is all about using what you’ve got. Here’s what we were challenged to do: “Spring Clean Your Kitchen. Cook with at least 3 ingredients that are in your refrigerator or pantry right now. Try not to go to the store to buy anything new. Show us how you reduce food waste by being resourceful!”
It’s like this challenge was written just for me as this is something I try to do pretty much every week. In fact, the other weekend we had some friends over for an impromptu dinner. It was one of those laid-back nights with friends-who-are-like-family where everyone was relaxed and making themselves at home. At one point, my friend opened my refrigerator and said, “WOW! Your fridge is so clean!” She couldn’t believe how empty the shelves were. She was so shocked when I told her that my fridge is pretty much empty by Saturday night every week that she made her husband come over to take a peek, too.
Working with what you have
When you are trying to use up whatever you’ve got left in your house there is definitely some flexibility and creativity required. This can be especially challenging for less confident cooks so I wanted to share a couple of ways to make this easier.
Search for recipes with the ingredients you’ve got
When I was first becoming more serious about reducing food waste, one of the things that I started doing towards the end of the week was to search for recipes using whatever ingredients were left in the house. A search for eggs and sweet potatoes, for example, might yield a frittata, whereas one for rice and shrimp might result in a fried rice or quick paella.
Over time, as I did this more and more, I started to understand the dishes that worked well for using up whatever I had left around and then grew more comfortable improvising on my own.
Search for substitutes
When you’ve got a meal in mind and need to figure out how to make it with what you’ve got, searching for substitutes can be a great way to go (make sure to check out our food substitution guide to use as a quick reference).
Wild Blueberries, oats, and applesauce
When I went to work on this challenge I looked through my fridge, freezer, and pantry to see what I had knocking around. I found frozen wild blueberries, oats, and applesauce and I knew a breakfast/dessert was in our future.
These wild blueberry bars are a favorite in my house. I have been making a version of them for years, but when I saw the ingredients I had knocking around, I decided to make them healthier by cutting down on the sugar, adding whole wheat flour, and swapping out half of the butter for applesauce.
The result: an even tastier bar that I can feel good about serving for breakfast, throwing into lunch boxes, or serving with a scoop of ice cream for dessert (which is to die for, by the way)! If you wanted to bulk up the nutrition even more, swapping out the flour for almond meal would be amazing, too.