Looking at you, big bags of tortilla chips.


Remember when last spring when you stocked up on the foods you thought you'd crank through all summer long?  But no matter what, a few summer leftovers stand in the way of you and your fall pantry cleanout. I'm talking about the jumbo bags of tortilla chips for all that salsa you were going make from your garden tomatoes. The enormous container of BBQ spice rub for all the meats that were going to hit the grill. And even the almond butter you bought in a pair of huge jars for fast portable sandwiches for the kids and healthy snacks for yourself.

Never fear! You can salvage those pantry orphans and still be the kitchen hero you know you are deep down. Here are some ways to easily make the most of these summer classics as part of your fall pantry purge.

Credit: Getty / Marat Musabirov

5 ways to use up leftover bags of tortilla chips 

Everyone's favorite dipper is a surprisingly versatile ingredient. Chilaquiles, that wonderful Mexican dish of tortilla chips sautéed with salsa and served with eggs and cheese is a terrific thing to present at a brunch, so plan a Sunday with family or friends and use the whole bag at once. You can also grind the chips into crumbs for use anywhere you might use breadcrumbs. This is a great trick if you have people you cook for who are gluten free: From filler in meatballs to a breading on chicken or fish, tortilla crumbs are a delicious swap. You can also use them to thicken soups like tomato soup or black bean soup. And they make a strangely delicious swap-in for the Rice Krispies in a marshmallow treat: Just crush lightly to make them smaller pieces and follow the rest of the recipe to the letter.

9 ways to use up leftover BBQ seasoning rub

Your basic rub may have bored the family after the fourth meal, but it can be zhuzhed up into a stash of smaller batches of rubs each with a distinctly different flavor. Add unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, and cumin to one batch to take things in a mole direction. Add instant espresso powder and brown sugar for a cowboy style rub. Powdered ginger and five spice powder will lean you in an Asian direction, while whisking in chipotle powder and lime powder will make your carne asada sing. Finally, you can add BBQ seasoning to ranch dressing for a BBQ ranch, stir it into sour cream to make a punchy dip, or blend it into oil to anoint baked potatoes, swirl on pumpkin soup, or drizzle over bread to toast for croutons or crostini.

9 ways to use up leftover almond butter

Almond butter is a versatile ingredient if you think beyond spreading it on bread or crackers. Pretty much any recipe that calls for peanut butter as an ingredient can be adapted to almond butter, from baked goods to satay sauces and curries. It is a great thing to whizz into salsa verde or pestos; you can enrich bean or lentil soups and stews, and it is a fun ingredient to add to salad dressings for nutty richness. Even better, these things all freeze well, so you can make some batches and stash for use all fall and winter long and get the jars out of the pantry.