Tips for Tuesday | Roasted Shrimp Powder | Maggie C Perkins

I think it was probably that stash of used aluminum foil, carefully ironed out by hand and folded only enough to fit properly in its quarter of the drawer. Next to its drawer mates, all of the rubber bands collected from the morning newspaper. The third quarter housed reusable plastic bowl covers. I believe the fourth quarter had some other repurposed purpose, but the particular item escapes me (and my brother won't answer my text.)

Granny Mac also had plastic bottles into which the leftover restaurant condiment packets were emptied. She had an entire bottle of Roy Rogers' barbecue sauce in the fridge, yet I never remember actually going to Roy Rogers. She handed over aluminum pot pie tins for my brother and me to create a backyard 'kitchen' of creatively garnished mudpies, and near-emptied dish detergent bottles were our bubbles. And then our squirt guns.

We used old furniture casters as cars, and our racetrack was the oval, braided rug in the back room. When clouds loomed, she set out large empty tubs in the back yard to collect rainwater (back before air pollution was even a thing) for soft hair and softer clothes.

So when folks ask me why I resist just throwing stuff away, well I trace it back to that stash of aluminum foil. My grandmother grew up in the depression-- the big one before the others, and she was clever and practical. There was no reduce reuse recycle in her homekeeping lexicon. She needed no ad campaign to encourage her thrift. She learned it from her own mother, a widow farmer raising two children in tight times.

I doubt shrimp was on their menu very often, if at all, but thanks to the thrifty ways she handed down to her granddaughter, I can justify the budget splurge by not wasting one. little. bit. Beyond stock and bone broth, which shrimp shells will find their way into frequently, I have another little trick to help shrimp yield its full flavor, and value.

Roasted Shrimp Powder

On their way to a Shrimp and Mirliton dressing (that I hope to share before the next big holiday feast), these shrimp were deveined with shells on by simply using a sharp paring knife along the curve of the shrimp's back, and removing the black trail of....stuff, without disturbing the shells.

I laid them out on a cast iron, or other oven safe pan in a single layer and seasoned them lightly with my go-to homemade seasoning salt. Use your favorite blend like Tony Chachere's or any other Cajun seasoning, or go rogue and sprinkle on your own mixture of salt, pepper, spices, etc, or use none at all.

In a 350℉ preheated oven, roast shrimp for 3 or so minutes or until shells remove easily from shrimp flesh. Let cool to handle, then peel shrimp, reserving shells. Send your peeled shrimp off to their final destination for cooking, concentrating on the shells, only, at this stage. Return shells to pan in a single layer, reduce heat to 300℉, and roast about 45 minutes, or until completely dry and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 5 minutes.

When cool to the touch, transfer shells in small portions to an electric spice or coffee grinder. (Additional tip: keep flavors clear by cleaning your grinder frequently-- I grind rice and discard, and wipe any additional residue with a slice of bread.)

Collect your shrimp powder in a clean, reusable jar. Keep refrigerated and use within a few months for the sake of freshness.


Besides being a jarful of briny beauty, shrimp powder, or rather the shells from which it is made, is primarily chitin, also called chitosan, which is a source of organic fiber. Along with other purported benefits, chitin has been suggested as a food supplement to control cholesterol and triglycerides.

Use your roasted shrimp powder anytime you'd like a little taste of the sea. It seasons soups, stews, curries, and stir fries. It punches up bone broth and stocks for a quick snack. It tastes great simply sprinkled over salads and sides. It creates unique flavors for sauces, and can be used to make compound butters with the addition of your favorite herbs, or simply solo.

So tell me, what are your favorite homemade thrift tales? What do you use/do/create to extend value and save the budget? I'd love to share your suggestions in upcoming Tips for Tuesday posts. Comment below, reply via social media, or shoot me an email. I can't wait to hear your hints and tips!


  1. I love the idea of making something from nothing and am trying to incorporate that more into my kitchen (and life!) Do you pickle watermelon rinds, too?

    Great post, Maggie!

    1. Hi Kristin!

      I do pickle watermelon rinds! I stalk out families during the summer to try to pick up their cast off rinds since its hard for me to eat enough watermelon in a timely fashion to make the project worth the time. (So if you see me creeping around in Summer.......).

      But ooh lord do I love watermelon rind pickles! That might make a fine class!

      Thank you for stopping by, my friend.

  2. Interesting to learn about shrimp powder, I've never heard of it! I like that you included the nutritional benefits as I was interested once I read what it was made from.

    1. Thanks, Kaylin! Always interested in ways to get more fiber in my diet, so this seemed like a reasonable idea a few years ago, and now it's a regular seasoning in my rotation. Not sure I'd seen shrimp powder before, but I use it similarly to shrimp paste, which is used heavily in Thai cuisine-- one of my favorite!

      Thanks for dropping by,

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  4. Well first may I just say, I've missed your blog. It's been far to long since I sat down to Maggie's table for her wit, wisdom and stories. That being said, I too had a grandma that grew up in the hard core depression. Some things she saved concerned me other things just made perfect sense. For me I save all old veggies in the freezer along with my bags of bones and parm rind (one of your old tips) for future pots of stock. Because I have a citrus trees I try really hard not to let any of them go to waste. I will preserve my meyers in salt and oil to keep all year round. The zest which if it's not used in Limoncello will find it's way in the oven for future flavored salts. Old bread even gets toasted and ground up into bread crumbs. Oh and never throw out that bacon fat, can't make a good cornbread without it. Love you Maggie <3

  5. Awe girl, you know just how to welcome a very rusty writer back to the fold! THANK YOU, my love! I needed that! Life just got in the way of doing what I love so much for quite a while, but I'm settled back in, and looking forward to learning all that I've missed (these dang bloggers are such tech whippersnappers!), and sharing all that I've done over the year.

    These are all such great tips! I'm going to do a sort of thrify round up, and I'd love to share yours when I do if that's okay?

    Much love,


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