Whatever You've Got Muffins

Did you realise how much food we waste?

Ah, no well I hadn't either. But ... before I get to the stats, I have to tell you that this is in fact an archived post, with new elements. New photos, a new twist on the original ... because, after all, it's still my second favourite muffin recipe (after this one). Great for lunchboxes or morning teas.

 And it's now June, and freezing outside, and my little helper is oh so much older! I retook the two muffin photos with a recent batch - made as cake instead. And - I'm pretty happy about this - I recently acquired 10kgs of cooking pears from Food Connect (for only $15!). I've been making chutneys and crumbles and jelly ... which is how I ended up with a cup of pear puree that I couldn't bear to throw out (because you strain out the juice to make jelly). This is the perfect recipe for saving the puree, and makes me feel very awesome.

Now - back to those stats.
Several recent studies have shown that American, Australian and British households waste 15%, 20% and 25% of food purchased (respectively).

So say you spend $100 a week on food (conservatively)... that's $800-$1300 a year. Wow. And often it's the expensive stuff that gets thrown out, right? The marscapone you bought for that dessert, the ricotta that didn't get used in the lasagne, that amazing baguette that went stale the day after you bought it...

To minimise waste I try to keep an eye on what I've got in the fridge (and what needs to be used soonish) and I try not to over-buy.... Also it's handy to have a few great 'use it up' recipes up your sleeve for sad and lonely ingredients.

Here's one of our family favorites (and a great not-too-sweet snack for little ones as well!) I've adapted this recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day, and it's pretty foolproof--you can even get those Little Helpers to give you a hand!

Whatever You've Got Muffins
makes 12 muffins or a pan of cake

The time
15 min prep + 20-30 min baking

The ingredients
The basics
1 large free range egg
1/4 c oil (I use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil or butter)
1 c milk, sour milk, cream, yogurt, whey or any combination of
1/4 – 1/3 c raw sugar, brown sugar, agave syrup, honey, maple syrup or any combination of
1/2 c rolled oats

1 c unbleached white flour*
1 c wholemeal flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda (make sure it’s not clumpy)
1 tsp baking powder

*Now if you’re like me, you start the recipe and get all the way to the part where you add the flour and realize you don’t have any white flour. Don’t worry! I’ve successfully used all wholemeal, all white, spelt, and kamut flours on various occasions. Just adjust the moisture at the end.

**and use organic ingredients when you can

The extras
1 1/2 c shredded zucchini and/or apple (don’t worry about peeling, just wash and shred) or mashed bananas + 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon + a handful of seeds and/or raisins
minced peel of 1/2 – 1 lemon or orange + handful of dried currants or fresh blueberries
1 c shredded cheddar cheese + 1 tsp dried mixed herbs (whatever you have on hand)
1 c pear puree leftover from making jelly + 1 Tbs grated ginger

1 1/2 c carrot bits leftover from juicing carrots + 1/4 c water (because they'll be quite dry) + 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon + a handful of seeds and/or raisins
whatever you've got!

The process
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line 12 muffin cases or a small cake tin with baking paper.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, oil, milk, sugar and oats. Mix well with a spoon. Add whatever extras you’re going to use and mix again.
  1. Add your flours, salt and rising agents (the baking soda and powder) to the bowl, and mix just until the batter is uniform and without any more patches of flour. Mixing too much will cause the muffins to be a bit heavy. I recommend letting your Little Helper pour cupfuls of flour into the bowl, very entertaining for them. Don’t worry, this recipe is pretty difficult to mess up!
  1. Check the moistness of your batter—consistency is going to vary a lot depending on what ingredients you’ve used. If the batter is gluggy but still falls off a spoon that’s great. If it’s so thick you can barely stir it, or adheres to the spoon, you probably need more milk! If it’s runny like pancake batter, more flour.
  1. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cases, filling them almost to the top. Pop them into the oven and get Little Helper to help you clean up…. Or do it yourself if they have suddenly disappeared…
  1. The muffins are ready when: they are golden hued and baked through. You can tell this by poking a knife or skewer into the center—if it comes out clean, they’re done. Baking will take about 20 min or so.
  1. Take your muffins out of the tin, let them cool a bit and then slather them with butter (and maybe a little honey or jam if you’re inclined). Any leftovers can be frozen or kept in the fridge for instant snacks. Enjoy! 

my Little Helper

The cost
The cost of these will depend a lot on what flours/oils/extra stuff you use ... but my batch cost me less than $5 to make!

Check out these sites for some more information on food waste:
in Australia: foodwise.com.au
scientific study in PLOS ONE

Amanda xx
PS. I retook these photos as part of a 30 day photo challenge ... which I'm trying to catch up on ... sigh.


  1. These muffins look fantastic! (and the photos are amazing...)

  2. I am totally with you on not wasting food. I plan meals around what needs to be used up nowadays. Even the kids half eaten fruit gets stored ready for juicing or for use in a muffin or cake. This is a super practical post for anyone out there. Enjoyed the read.

  3. Nice work Sherilyn! You're an inspiration!

  4. I made mine with figs, cinnamon, a little nutmeg, and sweetened with maple syrup and honey. Very yummy :) Thanks!

  5. found that recipe on gojee...used it for my great muffin experiment i.e. i was chekingout which way of bakingthem stops lil bastards from sticking to everything muffin pan paper cases silicone cases. ALL turned out perfectly. Yum and it joins my weekly baking list as my main recipe. Thank you :) that recipe certainly made my winter in Glasgow a happier one.


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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx