Good to the Last Drop: 10 Tips for Getting that Last Bit of Food

boy licking spatula with chocolateReaders: I had fun during this interview with’s Mammish on lessons from my mother on picky eaters, starting at minute 32.

In  Why You Should Finish Everything on Your Plate, I explain why scraping the last bits of food from the dish is more than just about saving money. A cleaner plate means less time picking out bits from the filters in your sink and dishwasher, and saves soap and water when washing. I don’t think we should teach kids to finish their food when they aren’t hungry, but we should train them to take a little less than they think they will eat until they get better at estimating quantities.

We deal with food remains when cooking and baking too: Every bowl, measuring cup, and jar retains food remnants. Here are my favorite techniques for getting that last bit into your recipe:

  1. Turn. Flip over the container or let the leftover pour out at an angle. This works well for liquids, especially sticky ones like oil. Take advantage of a spout or corner.
  2. Bang. Gently banging the side or bottom of a bowl will shake off dry ingredients like cocoa, rice, or flour.
  3. Scrape. I use an inexpensive spatula, with a square edge for when the sides of the container make a right angle, like with a food processor and a round edge for rounded bowls.
  4. Oil. Before measuring honey, spread a thin layer of oil or butter on the measuring spoon or cup. When making a honey cake, measure the oil first and then the honey.
  5. Reuse. When leftover soup is too thick, add the water to the soup storage container and then to the post. When making fresh soup, I add the water to a recently emptied tin or food processor.
  6. Dry.  Just like you can use a slice of bread to clean off your plate, mixing bread crumbs will remove the dried fruit from your blender or food processor.
  7. Eggs. Eggs have similar chemical properties as soap, so cracking an egg into a measuring cup will break down the oil. Try this only if you are not planning to whip the eggs.
  8. Like seeks like. Use a chunk of bread dough to unstick the last bits of dough still in the bowl.
  9. Time. After pouring, let the liquid gather at the bottom of the container. I give the squeezed lemon a few minutes to drip into the bottom of the juicer.
  10. Fingers. Truly the best way to get the last bit of egg white out of the shell, or batter out of the food processor. If you are worried about germs keep in mind that cooking will kill them, but salads and cooked foods touched by human hands do spoil faster.

What are your favorite tips for getting food out of their containers?

You may also enjoy:

10 Tips for Easy Kitchen Cleanup

Feeding Babies Frugally: Four-Part Series

The Secret to Great Home Cooking

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  1. Honey jar at the end I put in a tea bag and a metal teaspoon (to avoid glass jar from shattering) and add boiled water for a very flavorful tea.
    Milk from the bag (Israel), when we think it is finished, it is really not always. I remove the plastic bag from the container and pull straight the bottom corners and get a few more drops to add to my coffee and it makes a big difference.
    Of course most of my friends think I’m nuts but others already know I’m nuts.

  2. When I have a carton of juice that opens with a screw top, I usually cut off the top corner when it’s done so I can get out that last drop (which is usually at least another 30-40ml!). The same could be done with milk cartons.

    Also with spreads like hummus and tchina, I’ll totally use vegetable sticks (cucumber works well) to get the scrapeouts from the container.

    Oh, and another one which was mentioned somewhere recently, with a container of raw tchina, you can pour water directly into the container to get more out of the last bit rather than pouring it out directly into a dish.