When I heard that decluttering and organization were to be the theme for this issue, I tried to imagine what a food article featuring “decluttering” would look and taste like. Then I looked in my fridge and, voila, I had a brainstorm. Here was my inspiration for this article . . .
In an effort to help us all “declutter” our fridge/pantry/freezer, here are some ways to get started on the road to making better use of the food we have and to move us toward less waste of food and money. Enjoy!
Those veggies (celery/peppers/onions/carrots/broccoli) in the crisper that won’t be recognizable in another week? These are probably food items that are most often wasted.
• Dice them all and sauté them. At this point, take out a cup or so to use and . . .
• Whisk up eggs (two per person), add 1 T. water for each egg, beat vigorously. Pour them over the sautéed veggies and continue to fry until the egg is solidifying on the bottom, turn on your broiler, put the skillet into the oven at least 6” away from broiler, broil for 2-3 minutes, remove, top with your favorite cheese. Cut into wedges and serve your family an awesome omelet/frittata.
• Put the veggies in a saucepan, add 3-4 cups broth (chicken or beef). Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes until veggies are cooked to your liking — easy, delicious, healthy, vegetable soup! Add one of those cans of beans in the pantry for some protein.
• Freeze the cooked veggies in 1 cup servings for use in later recipes.
Leftover rice/pasta/potatoes that will be dry as the Sahara later?
• Use the rice for a “burger” as mentioned above. Potatoes can be mashed and made into potato cakes (fry in oil/butter). Pasta is great added to a green salad with some of those grapes that you need to use!
Half a jar of spaghetti sauce left? Mamma mia!
• Make a quick white sauce (1 T. butter, 1 T. flour, cook 1 minute, add 1 cup milk). Add the spaghetti sauce for an awesome homemade tomato soup! Free up some cheese from the fridge drawer and make a toasted cheese
sandwich to go with the soup.
Have some eggs that won’t be what they’re “cracked up to be” soon?
• Hard boil them. They will keep another 4-5 days and are so versatile. Don’t peel them until ready to use them. Eat them as is, grate/chop them into salads, or slice them on top of toast or a muffin for a fast breakfast.
Fresh mushrooms — but for how long?
• Fresh mushrooms are always my choice, but I rarely need uncooked, so I usually wipe them, slice them all, sauté in butter/olive oil, and store them in a glass container in the fridge. They last MUCH longer when they are cooked AND they are ready to add to eggs/pizza/soups/casseroles — no more throwing away that slimy, expensive ingredient!
Whipping cream? Don’t let it become “clotted cream!”
• Had that carton for awhile? Whip the cream as you would for dessert/cocoa. Pipe it or drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet, stick the pan into the freezer until the mounds are frozen. Put the frozen creams into a ziplock bag and you have fresh whipped cream for your next dessert/oatmeal/french toast/or cup of cocoa. Thaw at room temperature until soft and enjoy!
As you can see, the ways to use up extra food
are endless. Check out the sidebar for more hints to help make it happen. Here’s to delicious
1 1/2 cups of leftover brown rice, two bags of cheese containing about 1/2 cup combined, a box of frozen
spinach in the freezer too long, a tiny bit of red cabbage that screamed “time to eat me” and some shrimp in the freezer.
It all went into the mix with an egg and coated with panko crumbs. Refrigerate for an hour to firm up, mix up some Asian dressing to dress the salad, fry the burger a couple minutes per side, and serve over the dressed salad — seriously
• Refrigerator: Store all your “leftovers” in clear containers so you can see items. Better yet, label the containers.
• Have a designated space in the fridge for those containers so you know the first place to look for usable items.
• Pantry: Keep like foods together (clear containers if you repackage), the oldest items in the front, and for the best chance of use, make a LIST and cross off what you take out.
• Freezer: Our chest freezer is in the basement. We keep a food list on the freezer AND on the refrigerator door to help us know what we have and what we have used. We redesigned the containers/baskets in that freezer so like items are together, a real game