Saving

Cash for Candy — and 9 Other Ways to Use Your Halloween Loot

(Photo: terren in Virginia)

Had enough Halloween candy yet?

It’s about this time each year that Frugal Foodie thinks that if she ever sees another Reese’s peanut butter cup (let alone eats one), it’ll be too soon. No wonder — people eat roughly 24 pounds of candy each year, most of it around Halloween, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s also the top time of year for chocolates, with 90 million pounds sold, according to Nielsen.

One way to ditch the excess: donate it. Through November 5, dentists around the country are collecting candy to send to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even sweeter, you’ll get $1 per pound, up to $5 total.

Once you’ve reduced your Halloween haul, there are also plenty of ways to re-use and recycle candy in recipes and for other upcoming holidays. Here are nine suggestions:

1. Prepare holiday-inspired Rocky Road bars

Frugal Foodie makes Nigella Lawson’s bars year round, subbing in leftovers like cinnamon hearts (Valentine’s Day) and Peeps (Easter).  For Halloween, she uses chopped Snickers bars and Rolos.

2. Save them for gingerbread houses

The candy is a lot easier to cement to a cardboard base than gingerbread is, says Linda Carlson of Seattle. Her kids reserve the hard candy pieces including mints and Jolly Ranchers.

3. Melt down chocolates for fondue

Dip other candy into it, or go for healthier fruit options.

4. Make a wreath

Fresh Home magazine suggests using yarn to tie candy to a metal wreath frame (available at craft stores). They prefer using a base of Tootsie Rolls with clusters of Lindt Lindor truffles, but anything that ties easily will work. Add a ribbon bow on top of the wreath, and tie scissors to the back with another piece of ribbon so people can snip off candy (just make sure to secure the wreath out of reach of kids).

5. Pop them in cupcakes

Freeze mini candy bars and place one in the middle of each cupcake just before baking. Frugal Foodie uses 3 Musketeers and Milky Way bars in chocolate cupcakes. The candy gets just melty enough that the result is something like a more decadent Hostess cupcake. Alternately, chop the frozen bars and scatter them into cake batter before baking.

6. Sub in for cake decorations

Everything from Smarties and Skittles to Hershey’s kisses and Reese’s Pieces make for great decorating tools.

7. Chop and freeze it

The American Dietetic Association says the chopped, frozen bits make great ice cream toppings — and will keep for months.

8. Enjoy cookie pizza

Make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, or use store-bought dough. Spread the dough onto a greased round cookie pan so that it is roughly pizza shaped. (Go thinner if you want a crispy “pizza” or thicker if you want one that’s doughier.) Top the baked cookie with a variety of candy (your choice), as well as a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce.

9. Try stained glass cookies

Save Jolly Ranchers, lollipops and other hard candies to make these iconic holiday cookies.

Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.