5 Creative Uses for Stale Cereal

by Linsey Knerl on 19 December 2012 1 comment
Photo: meddygarnet

With five kids in my house, boxed cereal is a staple for breakfast — and, once in a while, even snacks. I’d like to say that we use up every toasted flake of cereal in the most efficient manner, but this is not the case. Depending on the flavor of cereal, some of it goes stale before it can all be eaten. This usually happens with the “healthier” cereal varieties, but I’ve found a few solutions to make sure every bit is used up. (See also: Feeling Flakey: 7 Delicious Corn Flake Ideas)

1. Bread Crumb Substitute

Ranging in price from a dollar to a little over three dollars for six cups, breadcrumbs are something I try to never have to purchase. When I can’t find any clearance bakery items to grind up, I switch to the less-sweet cereal varieties, which work just as well. Just grind them up in your food processor or crunch them up with a rolling pin, and you have the perfect ingredient for mixing into meatloaves or creating a perfect onion ring crust. (Ham balls are actually tastier with sweetened cereal like Frosted Flakes!)

2. Bird Food

Since we have free-range chickens, they are already enjoying some of our healthier scraps. Our flock also really enjoys generic Cheerios, cornflakes, and shredded wheat. You can help kids cover a pinecone with peanut butter, then roll it in a mixture of crushed, unsweetened cereal to create a yummy treat for backyard birds this winter!

3. Craft Supplies

Kids love stringing things, and small hands work well with larger pieces of thread and beads with bigger holes. If you are concerned about kids working with materials that may be a choking hazard, I recommend a generic Cheerio or Fruit Loop type cereal to thread the string through. While they are still not something I would advise a child under three to work with, if one or two fall on the floor and get into the hands of the younger sibling, they aren’t as dangerous as a plastic or glass bead. Cereal can also be glued to cardboard and painted for free-form play.

4. Indoor Terrain

If you have a little boy in your home, you know how appealing dirt can be. Kids seem to want to run their fingers through dirt, push their toys into it, and pour it from cups into bowls. Stale cereal can be used in much the same way as dirt or sand, especially indoors, where you may want to use something with less of an “ick” factor.

5. Baking

There are a handful of recipes I’m familiar with that get some of their deliciousness from the characteristics of dry cereal. Stale cereal has been used in everything from cookies to cakes with much success. Cereal that’s high in fiber can be crushed finely to create a “flour” and substituted for a quarter of the regular white flour in most recipes. You may also want to try this garbage cookie recipe I found at Frugal Village!

If You Don’t Like Recycling Food, You Can Always Try to Revive It

Lifehacker tells us that it’s possible to give new life to chewy cereal by putting it in the oven for 3-5 minutes at 300 degrees. I’m guessing putting it on a baking sheet in a single layer will do the trick, and while you’re at it, you may want to consider using the cereal as a component in homemade oven-baked granola!

Have you found a tasty way to bring old cereal back from the dead?

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I did the pinecone craft once or twice when I was younger. I usually never waste food and always try to eat what I buy, which usually means more than one trip to the grocery store per week. My roommate on the other hand is always wasting food (mostly because she doesn't know how to store it properly). I love the last part, I think baking some stale cereal in the oven would definitely do the trick, and I've never thought about mixing it in with granola but thats a great idea!