5 Ways To Use Up All That Halloween Candy You Have Sitting Around
October 31 has come and gone, but its sticky, sweet remnants live on. Americans buy an estimated 300,000 tons of candy every Halloween—and chances are, at least a pound of it is sitting in your kitchen right now.
From the popular classics like M&M's and Reese's Cups to lesser-celebrated treats like Lemon Heads (which, fun fact, are the most common Halloween candy you'll find in the state of Louisiana), there are always a variety of prizes that follow trick-or-treaters home. Some of them get gobbled up quickly, but there's always that sad, picked-through pile that sticks around until January.
That's the pile you probably end up throwing in the trash. But this year—in the name of cutting back on food waste—we're sharing some smart tips to help you keep your sugary stash out of the landfill:
1. Give your kids a quick talk about food waste before they head out.
First things first: Before your trick-or-treaters head out for the evening, remind them to take what they like and politely decline the rest. "Have a chat with your kids beforehand, so they're aware of the inevitable waste," recommends Olivia Youngs, the mom of three behind the Simply Liv & Co. blog. "[They] can do their part to only choose candy they love so that you're not left with a bunch of candy they can't eat or don't like."
The same goes if you're the one giving out the treats: Only buy candy that you actually like, so you can finish up any leftovers. (Here are some ways to do it without spiking blood sugar!)
2. Keep your candy around to be turned into something else.
Where some see a forgotten candy pile, Tracy Wilk, a lead chef and recipe editor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, sees endless dessert inspiration. "Anything that's a chocolate-based candy can be chopped up and reused in something such as a frosting, cookie, or brownie," she says. More jelly-based candies like Starbursts and Jolly Ranchers are trickier to recreate, but if you're feeling festive you can use them to infuse your favorite light liquor with a sweet flavor.
Keep in mind that candy tends to have a long shelf life, so you can keep it around for a while until the urge to bake strikes. "By nature, anything that's high in sugar does not go bad quickly. It's just a matter of if water gets in there. Keep it dry and covered, and it will take a pretty long time to expire." You can also store your candy in the freezer and thaw when you're ready to eat.
Once Thanksgiving rolls around, Wilk says that Halloween candy can make a nice dessert or starter on your dinner table: "Halloween candies and Thanksgiving sku's are essentially the same—they use the same colors. Leftover candy corn will still look cute on your Thanksgiving grazing board."
3. Host a candy swap.
Have a kid who loves Snickers but hates Twizzlers? I'm sure their inverse lives somewhere in the neighborhood. Hosting a candy swap for siblings, friends, and neighbors is a fun way to make sure everyone is happy with their Halloween haul.
4. Look out for collection and donation boxes around town.
If all the swapping, baking, and freezing in the world can't get to the bottom of your candy pile, consider bringing leftover sweets to a local food drive.
"Some dentists and businesses put up a candy collection box after Halloween. Kids can stop in and exchange their candy for something else (a coupon, money, or specific item). Usually, the businesses then donate the candy to an organization that will send it overseas to U.S. troops," says Durenberger. She likes to look for participating businesses on Halloween Buyback, and lists Operation Shoebox, Soldier's Angels: Treat for Troops, and Operation Gratitude as organizations that send donations to U.S. troops overseas.
"Additionally, you can contact your local food shelf or soup kitchen to see if they will take candy donations," she adds. "Be sure to include your kids in helping decide where to donate the candy. This can be a great conversation-starter about the importance of being involved and giving back in your area."
5. Recycle the wrapping.
For every piece of candy consumed on Halloween, there's a wrapper left behind that can't be recycled. The small, flimsy plastic that most seasonal treats come wrapped in usually can't be recycled. However, recycling company TerraCycle offers a collection box that you can fill with wrappers and send in to them to be broken down and reused.
While the service does cost $84, Durenberger recommends sharing the box with your local school or other community organization and splitting the cost.
See? Leftover candy doesn't have to be so spooky after all. Make this the year you dress up as a sustainable hero and keep it out of the trash.
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