Upcycling in your… Pantry?

Your pantry, Really?  Yep.  Since upcycling means working with something destined for landfill, it can also apply to the dry goods in your pantry.  Of course, it’s usually more fun to eat them, but every now and again something gets stuck in the back of a cupboard until its use-by date has passed.  So if your tummy isn’t feeling brave enough to eat it, then it’s time for some crafty fun!  Where to start?  How about… flour?

Now, we all know that flour and water will make a nice paste for some cutting and sticking with the kids.  But did you know it makes for some great digging and sensory play?  (Warning:  gratuitous messy kid photos ahead!)

Yes, it’s messy. (It’s also surprisingly slippery on a hard wood floor, so be careful).  But in a play table, it’s great for digging, sieving, pouring and building.  It packs well, so it’s great for building castles.

For older kids and adults, you can play “Flour Towers” which combines all the fun of building sand castles with jenga-like competition and a good face-full of flour as a forfeit.

Other dry goods are equally fun for sensory play.  Oats,rice,  pulses, cereals, and pasta and other grains all have interesting textures and can help to practice measuring or develop hand-eye coordination through filling and spilling. And for a much different sensory experience, you can try it with cooked pasta as well:

Yep. I gave my baby spaghetti to play with. All donations towards her future therapy are appreciated.


Fancy something with a little more colour to it?  Tutorials like this one from Mama’s Little Monkeys show you how to turn your regular rice into something more like this:

I did this for my daughter’s birthday, so I hid lots of chocolate coins underneath the rice, as well as beads printed with letters of the alphabet.  Then all the kiddies searched through the rice for prizes and the letters of their name, which we strung on to bracelets for them.

We’ve used the same colouring techniques to dye pasta as well.  We then followed up with some glitter glue to make some pretty penne for threading onto string and making collages:

And what should you do with all of your miscellaneous expired dry goods once you’ve finished building, digging, pouring and stringing?  You can donate them to a local preschool or art group for their projects.  You can hide some in plastic Easter eggs to make maracas.  Or, you can follow the instructions in this tutorial from Pink and Green Mama to make an “eye spy” bottle that will keep kids (and adults) occupied and upcycle a plastic bottle in the process!

If you fancy trying something a little more grown up with your upcycled grains (or maybe they’re so pretty you want to keep some for yourself!) try this:  Nike at Thrive uses her “Rock What ‘ya Got” approach to make lentil-covered frames that have been pinned all over Pinterest.  The same technique will work with other grains, or even rainbow rice for a pretty effect.

So when your pantry needs a little clear-out this spring, don’t feel you have to bin everything that’s gone past it’s use-by date.  Have a read through the tutorials and a browse around Pinterest and show us what you can do with your dried goods!


4 thoughts on “Upcycling in your… Pantry?

  1. Love the coloured rice and pasta ideas. Those two things never last long enough in my household to be used as anything but foodstuffs, though, so I doubt I’ll get the chance to experiment with them much. 🙂

    • I know what you mean! In my case, most of my expired goods came about during pregnancies. I would crave something, buy it, and the next week bump would decide it was never to be spoken of again. I ended up with some very strange things in the back of my cupboards!

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