The Prudent Pantry: Recycling Halloween Candy


Okay, you can’t recycle junk food, but I was trying to think of things to do with the inevitable haul of sugar, corn syrup, and red dye #5 once the initial buzz wears off.

Most of my ideas involve more sugar, but what can you do?

  • M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, and other small, chocolate-y bits: use in place of chocolate chips in your cookies. (I’m hoping for some Reese’s Pieces to use in a batch of Trader Joe’s Peanut Chocolate Cookies.)
  • Skittles, gummies, gumdrops, candy corn, Smarties, lollipops, and Starburst: You could use these to decorate cupcakes, or save them for a month and decorate your gingerbread house with them (Bonus: this means you won’t have to eat them).
  • Snickers, Hershey bars, and all those other not-so-fun fun size candy bars: I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m thinking of cutting some up into even smaller bits and baking them into brownies.
  • Any of the above: this might be a weird idea, but I kind of love it. Decorate for Thanksgiving (or just for autumn) with a horn of plenty (a.k.a. cornucopia) and fill it with candies. When I looked for instructions online, nearly everyone suggested starting with a cone-shaped basket, but I bet you could make one out of construction paper.

If you’re not going to recycle your trick-or-treat loot, how will you be doling it out? My children are still pretty small (four and a half and ten months), so I haven’t really figured it out yet. Some of my friends dole it out one or two pieces at a time, while others allow a one or two-time gorging.

What do you think? Have you done any of these? Do you have another suggestion?

Annika Barranti is a writer living in Los Angeles and blogging for the personal finance blog as well as her personal blog, Through the Looking Glass. She and her husband are raising two children and trying to eat well on a tiny budget.

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  1. MyOtherBlog

    4 years ago

    I ended up using leftover, and long-forgotten, Halloween candy to decorate my 4-year-old’s cake one year (cut-up twizzlers make excellent fuzz for a very hungry caterpillar cake)…but yeah how long forgotten is that? Um, her birthday is in May. (and no, we didn’t eat that candy, just decorated with is). So…the NEW plan of attack for this year is: We had her trade out the candy she knows she doesn’t like (twizzlers, laffy taffy, mostly anything that isn’t chocolate) with her cousins before we left their house after trick-or-treating. So we’re not going to have much go to waste this year we hope.

    I noticed some ads for dentists that will give you stuff for trade-in on your Halloween candy and one restaurant we ate at recently advertised the same – bring in your leftover candy for a free bowl of noodles.

    Oh, we let her have 1-2 pieces a day pretty much. And we of course hit it up once in awhile, too. We don’t go to enough houses to have too much candy I guess.

  2. Crystal.Ritchie

    4 years ago

    Luckily Jack called it quicks on ToTing early (he claimed his bucket was too heavy after one go around the block) so he doesn’t have much – it will likely be gone in just a matter of a couple weeks. The stuff we bought and didn’t hand out, however, is a different story. I will probably donate it to the break room at work and/or make little celebratory Thanksgiving & Xmas treats for daycare.

  3. Crystal.Ritchie

    4 years ago

    I thought of another one – stocking stuffers!

  4. champ76

    3 years ago

    These ideas will come in handy for me with halloween coming up here very shortly.

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