Zero waste pancake fillings

Filed in Blog by on March 8, 2011 15 Comments
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pancakes - a zero waste mealHands up who’s having pancakes?

Little Miss Green has requested pancakes for breakfast, lunch AND diner. Suffice to say, she’ll only be having them for breakfast.

As Jane reminded me the other week; they’re a great zero waste recipe, aren’t they? Just flour (paper bag), eggs (cardboard box to be returned to the seller, reused for other things, composted or recycled) and milk (return glass bottles to the milkman or take your plastic bottles / Tetra Pak cartons to the recycling centre).

Here are some of our favourite zero waste toppings, both savoury and sweet.

Sweet pancakes

Sugar and lemon or orange juice
Stewed, bottled or tinned fruit
Jam or maple syrup
Chocolate spread
mashed banana and honey


Grated cheese and ham
rolled with bollognase inside them and topped with white sauce before baking in the oven
Spinach and ricotta, topped with tomato sauce and baked
tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise
layered with garlic mushrooms and roasted vegetables

Lemon and sugar

Toppings here will be orange juice (they needed using up more than the lemons) with agave syrup and mashed banana with cream.

You’ll forgive me when I tell you that in previous years, even cattus green has indulged in pancakes stuffed with chopped chicken and cream. Ho hum. Alas Sunrise the bunny won’t be able to join in with the festivities, but she might indulge in the end of a banana or two.

But this month in the supermarket, I spotted this horrendous beast:

Betty Crocker

betty crocker plastic pancake bottles

Yes, it’s a Betty Crapper Crocker “Shake to Make” Pancake bottle. Inside this huge plastic bottle, you’ll find just an inch or so of pancake ingredients. The idea is that you fill the bottle to the top with water and hey presto; you have created the perfect pancake mix.

Instead of flour, eggs and milk you’ll be tucking into a delicious meal of Wheat Flour, Sugar, Raising Agents: Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate; Vegetable Oil, Dextrose, Egg White Powder, Egg Yolk Powder, Salt and Skimmed Milk Powder.

Add 95% water and you’ve got yourself a pancake day to die (maybe literally) for.

Plastic waste

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not perfect and I’ve fallen prey to convenience on several occasions, but pancakes in a shake and make plastic bottle?

Am I being terribly harsh?

I really do get the convenience thing, but surely you could provide the mix in a greaseproof paper packet and people could put it into a bowl and measure out their own water?

Food waste

Please tell me your thoughts about this type of product and let me know what you’re having on your pancakes this year! In fact, I have a little challenge for you. According to WRAP’s “Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK” report, the five most commonly wasted food are:

  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Ham
  • Tomatoes

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to incorporate one of those foods into your pancake fillings this year! You could sprinkle stuffed pancakes with breadcrumbs before baking, fill with curried mashed potato for an Indian twist, serve with sewed apple, vanilla and cinnamon, stuff with ham and cream cheese or fill with a ragu, top with grated cheese and bake…

Let me know what you do!


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (15)

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  1. Jo says:

    I can see the Betty Crocker jug of pancake mix being very convenient for camping out . . . but since you’d most likely have a bowl even on a camping trip, it does seem just as easy to mix up that way.

    Your sweet pancakes sound divine! We have pancakes quite often, and love them with mashed banana or berries added to the batter BEFORE cooking. I have to say I like the sound of stewed apple, cinnamon and vanilla on pancakes – I have to give this a try because I’m guilty of apple spoilage all too often. Thanks for some great ideas here!

  2. Abi says:

    Oh my, that’s horrendous! I can see these flying off the shelves though, as they make the whole rigmarole of pancake day so much easier. No, wait a minute, let’s ditch the idea that pancake day is a chore, that mixing pancake batter is in any way complicated, and that cooking is a hardship and a drudge – what is this world coming to?! Sigh.

  3. Sandy says:

    what a waste of money, when it is so easy to make pancakes !!

  4. Attila says:

    I won’t be making pancakes but I saw a whole palletful of these obscenities in the entrance to my local supermarket. I honestly believe that some people will think this is the only way to make pancakes.

  5. Teresa says:

    I nearly bought one of those on special offer when buying some flour in my local Spar shop and realised that the flour was cheaper and I already had eggs and milk in my fridge so decided against it. I can see these being popular with people in stressful jobs who can’t face getting all the ingredients together and beating an egg into flour and adding milk. But before long they lose their cooking skills.

  6. CarSue says:

    I know this is terribly off topic, but I needed to vent to some other like-minded people…. it’s finally happened, and a U.S. company has rolled out individual bananas wrapped in plastic sleeves. I wish I were joking, but it’s hard to make this stuff up. I have long purchased this company’s dog biscuits as they come in a simple cardboard box (made from 100% recycled paperboard, I might add) with no plastic or paper insert. Their corporate website even has the audacity to include an “environmental responsibility” page, bragging about their goal to reduce packaging waste!! Ridiculous!!

  7. CarSue says:

    Oh and P.S., we like to simmer apples until tender, then mash them with cinnamon and sugar and mix into our pancake batter. Yum! I’ll see what we can do with tomatoes, since we grow 13 varieties and, even after selling them, gifting them, canning them, and eating them until I think we’ll turn red, there are always plenty we could use up!

  8. LJayne says:

    I belong to another forum and we discussed this very product yesterday. One or two people had great success with it, others said the pancakes were a disaster, most people said “why on EARTH would anyone buy this product”. We make pancakes a lot for weekend breakfasts, always from scratch. As you say Mrs G, why would anyone want all the extra ingredients, even if not thinking about it from a ZW packaging approach.

    I like lemon juice and golden sugar on mine, I’m fairly a purist. DD2 had jam, DS and DD1 had icing sugar, lemon juice and chocolate sauce – hey, it’s only once a year! And DS said I had incredible style because I did the chocolate sauce in thin zigzag lines like a posh dessert! πŸ™‚

  9. Poppy says:

    Master P came home with one of these last year after visiting a friend! He was chuffed to be able to make pancakes for everyone, and that he’d bought it. What could I say? We had the usual conversation about waste and he does now view the items in stores with some scorn, so I guess it was a lesson learnt.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Jo: Hi Jo, granted, a camping trip might be just the job for a betty crocker kit; we’ll let her off for that πŸ˜‰ Loving the idea of mixing fruit into the batter; I’ll try it out!
    @Abi: πŸ˜€ I hear you; I’m sure they are extremely popular…
    @Sandy: It doesn’t exactly get easier does it? Apart from toast maybe πŸ˜‰
    @Attila: That concerns me – ids who grow up with these things will have no idea you can make batter for a fraction of the price. Just like many don’t know chips are made from potatoes or that potatoes come out of the ground …
    @Teresa: Well done for not buying Teresa; the cost would put people off if they stopped to think about what they were actually getting, perhaps
    @CarSue: OMG! Bananas of all things; they are already beautifully packaged by nature πŸ™ Did you manage to combine tomatoes and pancakes?
    @LJayne: loving the chocolate sauce combo πŸ˜€
    @Poppy: Awwww, bless – in these instances we eat with gratitude and thank our little ones very much πŸ™‚

  11. Cathy says:

    There’s actually a spray can version of pancakes as well. Not sure why we purchased that (maybe on vacation at the time?). Our kids thought they were the worst food ever. We’ve made our pancakes and waffles from scratch for years, so I guess they’re spoiled by eating something that is a natural food.

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Cathy: Wow, a spray can version; I have never come across that! Sounds vile LOL!

  13. Kitty says:

    I’m ashamed to say I bought a similar mix when on special offer and it was awful, I needed to pour it out of the bowl and use a bowl to get rid of the lumps and the pancakes were tasteless. For someone who does not regularly cook and so does not have flour, baking soda etc in the house then buying a mix for Β£1 might make economic sense

    I think the problem is that I only like Scotch pancakes (the small fat ones), none of these big thin things and have tried dozens of times to make them and never get it quite right.

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Kitty: Hi Kitty, sorry they tasted so bad. I understand about economic sense, but there’s little point if they taste bad and are wasted. Anyway, I have a gift for you! I made the most amazing, authentic-tasting scotch pancakes; try out my recipe from this page and let me know how they turn out: πŸ˜€

  15. Nathalie says:

    Especially loony since the initial idea of Pancake day was Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, using up all the nice things like butter and eggs before fasting through Lent. All fairly pointless. And we manage both these and US style pancakes on camp by weighing out mix to go with one egg before we go and bagging it up – measuring milk in a mug and away we go – not that hard really!!

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