“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”

― Calvin Trillin

Grandpa and I have been enjoying many excellent meals lately which means the fridge was overflowing with bits and bites. Great-grandma’s visit, a  family wedding, a few dinners out filled up the leftover shelf. The kids were in and out, stopping by for quick meals between ball games and fishing trips (and sharing their catch to fill up our freezer). And as always, date night and Sunday Dinner filled whatever space was left.

Between company and all the wedding events, it was time to use up the fresh drawers, cartons of leftovers, and almost empty staples before another shopping trip.

Compost, Clean-out, or Create?

Sometimes you just have to throw out the fresh food that’s has been composting in the bottom of the produce drawer. And yet, there are delicious dinners in wobbly celery sticks and leftover potatoes.

What to keep and what to toss must be decided first on food safety, then on time and taste.

  • If it is moldy or has turned, throw it out and say good riddance.
  • Leftovers can actually taste better when the flavors have had a chance to soak in. We will put several different night’s leftovers into a casserole dish and heat. Who knew that spaghetti goes so well with Mushu pork?
  • Soups are always a perfect dish to use up meats, grains, and vegetables. You can even add the last little bit of bottle condiments and dressings for a saucy zip.
  • Create fabulous sandwiches and clean out the breadbox at the same time. Cold, grilled, panni, open-faced, on bread, rolls, biscuits, even hot-dog buns can use up veggies, meats, cheese, condiments, and fruit.
  • “Empty-the-fridge” salads are a favorite on any hot evening.

Once in a lifetime

Sometimes the Fridge Clean dish out is so memorable it deserves to be written up and put in my recipe binder. Sometimes I have to call for pizza delivery.

Either way, Grandpa enjoys seeing what we can throw together and I enjoy letting him test it first.