Waste Not...

It’s been a few weeks since the last Fridge Cleanout, and at least a couple since the last big shopping trip.  You’re broke and/or lazy, and there will be no grocery run tonight.  Sure, you could boil some water and use up that last chicken flavored Cup Noodles with its funky chewy bits of dehydrated vegetable goodness, but you want something that tastes like actual food and won’t leave you starving 15 minutes later… 

Fridge Cleanout Bacon Tomato Arugula Pasta

So you forage through the remains of the kitchen and you come up with a wrinkly carrot in need of a little blue pill, an onion that’s molded 4 layers in, 2 potatoes sprouting roots so long they’ll soon be able to walk off your counter, garlic so dry it peels itself, ground beef so freezer burnt it’s practically cooked, and you think to yourself

Self, this stuff doesn’t look so fresh, organic, uhMAYzing, fanTASStic,

or anything that you could say was “grilled/baked/broiled/braised to perfection” while sexing the camera and talking with your mouth full because the stuff you just made is apparently so bomb it hurts not to say it out loud.

Fridge Cleanout Korean Vietnamese Cold Noodle Salad

But it’s what you got, so the question is…


For me, 9 times out of 10, the answer is USE.  And use it well!

There is something satisfying on so many fronts about making good use of stuff on its last leg.  I love redirecting a pile of sad veggies en route to the garbage can into a Dutch oven full of chicken stock, some bay leaves, a can of tomatoes, and the freezer burnt ground beef, and turning out a hearty soup for dinner.  A month-old wedge of Fontina finds new life when I cut away the benign but unattractive mold and it suddenly looks fit for a melty, gooey grilled cheese on sourdough with a bowl of creamy tomato soup.  Neglected green apples don’t look nearly so unappetizing after they’ve been peeled, sliced and baked with some butter, cinnamon and brown sugar between sheets of golden brown puff pastry. 

Fridge Cleanout Chorizo Cheese Breakfast Fries

Sure it’s preferable to have the “freshest” and “best”, but life doesn’t always serve up a perfectly beautiful and bountiful cornucopia of ingredients.  Transforming dull, lifeless, worthless looking ingredients into something delicious is really the height of the alchemy we call cooking, and perhaps more importantly a great lesson in resourcefulness and gratitude.

So the next time you see mold creeping on your Costco bag of  brown onions, remember that you’re just a few layers away from a Costco bag of perfectly good smaller brown onions and perhaps a perfectly delicious bowl of French Onion soup (topped with de-molded Gruyere…).


To see more Fridge Cleanout ideas, click HERE.



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