What to Do With Ketchup Dregs: Getting the Most From Your Condiments

Photo (cc) by Steve A Johnson

Our fridge door is full of jars and bottles, some of which look odd. For example, the contents of a spicy brown mustard bottle may seem pale and grainy, or there might be a jar of brine without any pickles. A small jar of homemade jam looks all but empty; so does a bottle of ranch dressing.

When these and other condiments run low, we turn them into something else. If a mayonnaise jar has shoulders that keep us from getting all of it – even with a spatula – we take that as a personal challenge. That last little bit of catsup that won’t come out, even if the bottle stands on its head all night? It will be ours.

Sure, it’s just a few cents’ worth of food, if that. But we see no reason to waste it. Besides, it encourages culinary creativity.

If you too are frustrated by the inaccessibility of those last drops, try these tactics.

Ketchup. Add a little water, shake and pour it into your next batch of sloppy Joes. My partner adds it to his homemade soup or chili. Or add vinegar and use the mixture as the basis for a homemade barbecue sauce.

Spicy brown mustard. Add some vinegar and give it a good shake. My favorite use for mustard vinegar: Fry a little diced ham until slightly crispy, add cooked lentils, stir in some mustard vinegar, crack an egg on top, cover the pan and then lower the heat until the egg is cooked to your specs. (For me, that’s somewhere between runny and rock hard.)

You could probably make the same dish with cooked beans, and you can also make it without the ham and/or the egg if the cupboard is bare or you’re a vegetarian. Sometimes we add a squirt of it to those homemade soups. Or why not add oil and spices and make salad dressing? Just be sure to call it “mustard vinaigrette,” which will impress your guests, vs. “French’s dregs mit vinegar,” which may send them screaming for the door.

Yellow mustard. I suppose you could go the vinegar route, but I’ve never tried this because our huge bottle seems never to empty. When it’s gone or nearly gone, I’ll probably add a tiny amount of milk and shake it up, then stir the liquid into my next batch of deviled eggs.

Smoothies or marinades

Pickles. If the brine is sour, pour some of it into that mustard bottle and shake. If it’s sweet pickle brine, use it to marinate pork chops. I like to add a little to my homemade coleslaw. Or make new pickles by adding sliced cukes, carrots, green beans or any other vegetable you like. (One of my nephews loves thinly sliced carrots marinated in a garlic dill brine, even as it makes him screw up his eyes and repeat “So sour, so sour” as he eats slice after slice.)

Ranch dressing. Add a bit of milk, shake hard and taste the result – it might still be usable on a salad. If not, add it to potato salad or deviled eggs.

Mayonnaise. Add milk, shake well, and use the liquid in coleslaw or potato salad.

Jam or jelly. Again with the milk! Shake it up and pour onto hot cereal (mmmmm, strawberry oatmeal). Stir it into plain yogurt. Add it to a smoothie. Or just drink it right out of the jar. Tell your kids it’s a milkshake, and watch them clamor for a sip.

Salsa. Yes, it does go bad eventually. Don’t let mold form on that last little bit. Dump it into soup or chili. Mix with a little mayo and use as a spread with turkey or chicken sandwiches. Puree it with some tomato juice, add a little vodka and call it a Bloody Maria.

A little kitchen alchemy

Are all these small economies? Of course. I don’t think that tossing that last tablespoon of catsup will move someone from security to insolvency. But you paid for it. Why not use it all?

Besides, finding new uses for the tail ends of things is just fun. It’s like being a contestant on that Food Network show “Chopped,” without the panel of discerning judges ready to criticize your use of jicama.

You know what else is fun? Realizing that your dish of lentils, ham and egg with mustard vinegar is not only cheap and nourishing, it kept you from going out to eat — a move that really can make a difference to the bottom line.

Or drinking that Bloody Maria, with or without vodka, and feeling smug that no mold was permitted to show its little blue head in your fridge. ¡Viva la kitchen alchemy!

How do you use up the tail ends of things?

More on DonnaFreedman.com:

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money
17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money

Here’s how to cut household costs and maintain your property’s value.

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 8 Steps
How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 8 Steps

Is your paycheck gone the moment you get it? Here’s how to break that vicious cycle.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Surefire Ways to Get Rid of Debt ASAP
8 Surefire Ways to Get Rid of Debt ASAP

Here’s how to pay off debt fast and pain-free.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say

One major wireless provider stands out for the least reliable call, messaging and data services.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.