This post is by Bernie Carr,
A while back I saw a story about an Oregon man who got stranded with his car stuck in the snow for five days. When rescuers came, he told them he survived by periodically turning on his car for warmth and eating Taco Bell Fire Sauce packets. I remembered the story when I came across a drawer at work that was full of leftover condiment packets – ketchup, mustard, parmesan cheese, chili flakes, salsa etc. People order food for lunches and meetings and save these leftover packets in a drawer in the break room. So I got to thinking what are some other uses for these condiments?
Use them for a recipe
This is a true story from my 20s. My mother-in-law came over for a visit and I wanted to learn her recipe for Mexican rice. At the time, I did not have a well-stocked kitchen. So she said, let’s use what you have and this is the resulting recipe:
chicken flavoring packet from ramen noodles
4 ketchup packets
1 cup of rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Heat oil in a frying pan. Add the rice and fry. Add salt and pepper. Add 1/2 teaspoon each garlic and onion salt if available. Pour 1 1/2 cups of water, the chicken flavoring packet (or one chicken bouillon cube) and four ketchup packets. Stir and allow the mixture to boil. Once it is actively boiling, lower the heat to low and cover tightly. Let it cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and fluff with a fork. It is ready to eat.
The above recipe is a good one for when you are running low on food and funds. Add a pot of beans and you have a complete meal.
Collect the contents in a container
I have a container for red chili flakes and whenever I have an extra packet or two from a pizza order I just add the contents to the container. I avoid waste and I always have chili flakes on hand.
Make a salad dressing
Salad dressings are comprised of three parts of oil, to one part of an acidic base such as vinegar, lemon juice or wine, an emulsifier such as mustard, spices and flavorings.
Mix oil, vinegar, mustard packets, honey packets with salt, pepper and you have honey-mustard dressing.
Make a marinade
Marinades also follow a similar pattern. Mix soy sauce and sugar packets, some salt, pepper and sesame oil and you will have an Asian style marinade. You get the idea.
If you are going car camping, take some of the packets to flavor your food.
Condiment packets are also handy for packed lunches.
Save for guests
I stayed overnight at a relative’s home and since they avoid using sugar for health reasons, they did not normally buy sugar. They gave me a couple of sugar packets for my coffee.
Bonus: Emergency Uses – head over to the Apartment Prepper Patreon page for additional emergency uses as well as photos showing actual usage at my house.
How long do condiment packets last?
Condiment packets do not have expiration dates, but I would think unopened individual packets would have a similar shelf life as their jar sizes.
- Honey, sugar and salt have an indefinite shelf life as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place.
- According to eatbydate.com unopened ketchup will last one to two year past expiration.
- American and Chinese mustard lasts around one to two years past the printed date, while Dijon mustard will last two to three years past expiration.
- Due the the high salt content, unopened soy sauce will last indefinitely.
Because packets do not have dates on them, I try to use them within six month of acquiring them. Otherwise, I have found that ketchup and mustard start to separate and decline in flavor. I don’t use the ones in the break room drawer at work, since I have no idea how long they’ve been in there. I would not want to ruin a recipe or a meal due to an old flavor packet. As with other stored items, when in doubt, throw it out.
I try to limit the number of condiment packets I have at home, otherwise, they will end up in the trash. To avoid waste, specify how many you need when ordering food to-go, or take only one or two for your use. Use them right away when you start to have too many.
Do you have condiment packets lying around your kitchen? What do you use them for-please share in the comments!
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