We’re “starting fresh” this January, completing 22 mini-challenges in 22 days for a cleaner, fresher and healthier kitchen and grocery budget. Just joining us? Read about the what’s and why’s on the mini-challenges, as well as the previous days tasks, and jump right on in!
Can you believe there was a small bottle of horseradish sauce in our refrigerator door that expired in December 2011?! It’s entirely possible it wasn’t rancid (as horseradish sauce it just loses potency over time instead of going sour), but I’m not taking any chances!
Yesterday’s task of cleaning out the fridge should have given us an idea of what we have. Now it’s time we make best use of it.
Step 2 – Eat Leftovers
Heads up – today’s mini-challenge may take a meal (or three) to fully accomplish. It all depends on how many leftovers you found in your fridge yesterday. The goal for today’s step is to simply not waste what we already have. By eating EVERYTHING we prepare, we’re being good stewards of both the food we bought AND the money we used to buy it with.
So often we prepare meal after meal and little tiny bits will be leftover. Half a chicken breast from Monday, one serving of pasta from Tuesday, a handful of mushrooms that weren’t needed for Wednesday’s stir-fry. Regardless of the quantity, this is still food!
Quality ingredients cost a pretty penny. I can guarantee you 100% that you absolutely will not find a wasted piece of chicken in my house. No way Jose. At $2.49/lb, I’m making sure that every gram of that organic free-range bird is getting put to use!
It’s important to have this perspective on all the food we buy, not just the expensive stuff. Even one dollar worth of waste each week adds up to $52 each year. Would you willingly throw away that if it was cash?
Make a list of what you found in the fridge yesterday that needs to get eaten or else it will go bad. This could be fresh produce or it could be leftovers from New Years. It could even be a bottle of something that only has a portion of a serving left. Whatever it may be, make an effort over the next couple days to do one of two things: eat it, or do something with it.
Need some suggestions? Here’s what I found yesterday and my plan for eating leftovers today:
2 1/2 heads of romaine lettuce: some of the edges of the lettuce are beginning to wilt. If I were a fan of wilted lettuce (as a vegetable side dish), then I’d cook some up. Because I’m not, only the worst wilting will get torn off and thrown away. I’ll chop up and wash the remaining lettuce, including the “minor” wilting, and store it in a container in the fridge. My lunches for the next few days will be salads and as a bonus, it’s an opportunity to use up the last bit of homemade blue cheese dressing and homemade Caesar from Christmas.
1/4 jar red curry paste: this had an expiration date of November 8 but I doubt this has truly gone bad. We normally make curried shrimp (the recipe on the jar), but it’s just been taking up door space since Mr. Crumbs and I deemed the recipe lacking in depth of flavor. Since each small bottle is kinda expensive, I’m making a point to use it up this month. I’ll use some pulled chicken from the freezer and a half box of rice noodles tucked away in the pantry for a noodle stir-fry dish later this month.
lots of mushrooms: a full eight ounce container and another 4 ounces or so. Both of these are leftover from two separate pizza nights and need to get eaten ASAP – they won’t even make it to our next pizza night. A big batch of roasted vegetables and penne is planned for later in the month – which calls for mushrooms – so my plan is to sauté the ones I have now with olive oil, salt and pepper and freeze them in two portions for later. Mushrooms don’t freeze well raw, but they should be fine once cooked. Doing this saves me from wasting the mushrooms now, and from having to buy mushrooms later in the month.
ultimate pancakes: the kids and I made a big batch of ultimate pancake earlier in the week. I have no doubt they’ll get eaten if offered, but it’s important that I remember to actually offer them.
Remember that the goal is to not let the food go to waste. Invite company over for a fridge clean-out and encourage them to bring their leftovers too. Turn vegetables into omelets. Add to fresh pasta, toss with sauce and cheese and bake. If all else fails, freeze it! Just make sure it doesn’t go in the trash can.
Day 1 Update
Here’s my fridge before:
And here’s my fridge after:
This may not look like an improvement, but trust me, it is. Since before Thanksgiving, we’ve been storing items that are normally kept in the fridge, but not required to be, in the garage. Think celery, apple cider, pears, etc. We simply didn’t have room in our tiny fridge!
Leftover cheesecake and random bottles of no-longer-carbonated mineral water were tossed. The partially eaten pumpkin and tiny bit of kefir were turned into a smoothie. The kids ate the applesauce and an old batch of salsa and old pickled jalapenos were tossed. The after also includes items from a Costco trip today that weren’t in the before (i.e. kale).
Oh, and never mind the dirty dishes in the background. I took care of those after the picture was taken.