Frugal ideas for leftover Halloween candy

Nod along if this sounds familiar: You head to the store and buy more than one bag of candy (maybe because you found a great coupon!) and you anticipate dozens of trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell on October 31. Then, reality sets in on the morning of November 1, when you can count on one hand how many costumed kids actually stopped by, and you’re stuck with a few bags of unopened treats… not counting the pieces you ate the previous evening.

Or, perhaps your kids came home with much more candy than you expected, and now they are hoping to eat it all in one weekend. You need a plan of action, and quick. Nobody needs all that sugar.

So what to do with leftover candy? As delicious as it is, rather than risk a toothache, stomachache or just plain overindulgence, there are tons of possibilities for your household’s Halloween candy. Some of these ideas can even save you money.

Freeze it:

If you’re experiencing a little (or a lot) of backlash from your children about cutting down on the amount of candy being consumed, you can offset these complaints by telling them that they can eat it, but they have to wait. By freezing your candy, you will prolong its shelf life by many months.

The possibilities are endless for how to use leftover Halloween candy. Crumble chocolate pieces for an instant ice cream topping. Add chocolate, peanut butter or nougat candy to milkshakes, ice cream or even cookie dough for a delicious twist.

Over the upcoming holidays, you can find even more uses for the candy and save yourself the expense of running out to get more. Candy corn can be used to decorate Thanksgiving cookies or baked goods. Chocolate pieces, hard candy or gummies can be saved for decorating gingerbread houses in December.

Bake it:

Whether you freeze the candy for later or not, there are plenty of ways to use leftover candy in your baking projects. Bake chocolate pieces into cookies or brownies, use candy to decorate the top of cakes or cupcakes or stir small fragments right into icing. If you need inspiration, there are countless recipes online from talented food bloggers. To break up candy into really small pieces, you can also use a food processor.

Another idea that can fill your kids’ lunches or power your weekend walks: Mix the sweet candy with salty pretzels and nuts (check if you have cereal leftover in the cupboard to add, too) and make an easy and delicious trail mix. Just watch the sugar contents; you’ll want to balance out the M&Ms with something healthier like nuts or granola.

Gift it:

Use your leftover chocolate for holiday gifts. Melt it down, spread it into a cookie sheet and you can add just about any other candy you’d like over the chocolate. After refrigerating, you have a unique candy bark! Break it into pieces and put it in a decorative tin or treat bag and you’re set. You could also pour melted chocolate into festive molds for another seasonal gift idea.

For upcoming birthday parties, stuff a piñata with the leftover candy or fill up goodie bags. If your family’s birthdays aren’t for another few months, keep a bag in the freezer for these occasions.

Swap it:

If you’d like to take a healthier approach, some dentists offer an exchange or Candy Buy Back Program. Check with yours to see if they have anything available. Often, kids and adults can trade in candy for gifts, prizes or nutritious treats in exchange. The candy is then donated to a charity or troops stationed overseas.

Donate it:

You can also send candy directly to troops, though keep in mind there are often specific requirements, like candy that is heat resistant. Operation Gratitude is one nonprofit organization that sends care packages overseas and you can get more details on its website.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a quick way to get rid of your leftover Halloween candy, bring it to your workplace. That’s one way to get some “sweet” brownie points!

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