Fridge Clean-Out Meals

Post by Paula Jahn, Co-owner and Registered Dietitian at Nourish Northwest

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I tend to get overzealous at late summer farmers’ markets. Everything is bursting with color and ripeness. I jubilantly fill my bag with fruit and vegetables that look good, without having a particular plan for them. Four days later, I have half an onion, half a zucchini, some cherry tomatoes that are nearly sauce, and some mushrooms that are destined for the compost pile. While I’m sure all of that would make my compost very rich, I really bought them to eat. So, I put on my creative cooking cap. With a few pantry staples and a hodgepodge of vegetables, dinner can be healthy and satisfying.

No waste here!
No waste here!

 

My go-to is to sauté the vegetables with some garlic and olive oil, add to whole grain pasta, toss in some pieces off a roasted chicken (or not),  and make a quick white sauce or keep in simple with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Pasta can really take whatever you throw at it. For a gluten-free version, add the vegetables to a steamy bowl of brown rice.

Most of the vegetables can be sautéed together. I dislike wet, soggy, warm tomatoes, so give them special treatment by pan roasting them until they give off their juices and take on the color of molasses. With just a pinch of salt, they almost take on a sweet, balsamic vinegar-like flavor.

Resist the urge to stir.
Resist the urge to stir.

I can’t decide if I’m more satisfied by the eating the meal or by knowing that all this good food won’t be wasted.

A complete, waste-free meal.
A complete, waste-free meal.

Other meals that lend themselves to the “fridge clean-out” method are frittata, stir fry, and soup. These are all items that do not require a recipe–just a few staples, some odds and ends produce, and a basic method.

Frittata. The link on thekitchn.com has a good tutorial on the method. Feel free to leave the meat, pasta and/or rice out. As long as you have eggs and vegetables, you can make a delicious and economical weeknight meal.

Stir-Fry. Here’s a good method explanation from lifehacker.com.

Soup. The quality of soup is only enhanced by the addition of more vegetables. Start with a base recipe and add whatever is going to go bad in your fridge.

 

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