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Monday, February 8, 2016

Cleaning out the fridge last Friday resulted in several different dishes for the weekend

I had some time on my hands, Friday morning through midday. And the fridge was full of leftovers. Not the kind of ready-to-eat leftovers, but "basic ingredient" leftovers. Bring those two together, and I was able to prepare several dishes to get through the weekend.

This is what I found in my fridge that needed using up posthaste:

pureed pumpkin
liquid from straining pureed pumpkin
thawed, frozen spinach
canned, whole tomatoes
canned tomato paste
cooked brown rice
an open package of tofu
fresh mushrooms
pizza sauce
thawed, frozen black olives
cooked black beans

plus, lots of potatoes, onions and eggs

And this is what I was able to make:

Fried rice, with eggs, tofu, mushrooms, spinach, onions and frozen peas

Pumpkin, ham and potato soup

Tomato Florentine soup

Refried black beans for serving with corn tortillas, salsa and avocados, making tacos, taquitos or burritos, or, for serving over cooked rice

Veggie pasta dish, using the pizza sauce, pasta, spinach, mushrooms, mashed tofu, and olives, topped with Parmesan

I prepared about 22 servings of these foods, in total. Added to this was about 4 servings of bean soup and a whole pumpkin pie, in the fridge, that had been thawing this week. Only 1 person was home for dinner on Friday night. So this was all enough to get us through the entire weekend, without me having to do much cooking!  And my fridge looks so much better now.   :-)

The value that I found in assembling all of these at one time was that I could ensure I was using up ingredients, entirely, without going overboard on any one dish. For example, I had a big chunk of thawed spinach to use up. I used some in the Florentine soup, then added a bit to the veggie pasta dish, and with that final bit, I stirred it into the completed fried rice. If I had been trying to use it up on just one dish, it might have been spinach overload in one meal.

And while I was in the kitchen on Friday, I made some mini chocolate chip cookies. One daughter, in particular, loves the cups of mini cookies that a campus restaurant, Einstein Bros. sells. I had planned on meeting up with both daughters for dinner in the student union building, before attending a play with them. Instead of buying a cup of mini cookies, I brought homemade. Oh, I can tell you, my daughters were so delighted! I also brought some fresh fruit from home, and we shared 2 sandwiches (half-price, as it was after 5 on a Friday evening), 3 ways, and drank water. Einstein Bros. has a punch card, to earn a free sandwich. It has taken me nearly 3 years to fill this one punch card (6 spots). Now, it's filled, and I'll give it to the 2 of them as a birthday gift, to get a sandwich to share on their birthday, next month, in the student union building.

I hope you had a great weekend!


  1. Oh, yum, Lili! Great work (both at home and at the student union!)

    We did a bit of the same yesterday for the Super Bowl (though some of ours was pre-made stuff, not ingredients) and during a couple of busy days we didn't want to make a mess in the kitchen.

    I was lamenting that I had leftover tamale sauce that needed to be eaten RIGHT NOW, and then found two tamales I had forgotten in the freezer. We used the end of some Christmas summer sausage, some cheese, a leftover can of olives, and a few more of those twice-baked potatoes I made a couple of weeks ago for game day snacking. I also had a half-can of coconut milk and some liquid milk in the fridge, plus just a couple of pieces of frozen fruit; so we also sipped on milkshakes.

    It didn't clean our the fridge or freezer much, but we kept a few things from spoiling and enjoyed some tasty food. :)

    Have a good week, Lili! Sara

    1. Oops, got distracted and forgot, we also stole a half a roasted garnet yam from the dog's weekly food to combine with a couple of leftover sausages and a day-old onion, for breakfast hash. Sara

    2. Hi Sara,
      Oooh, tamales, those sound good! It sounds like you pulled together a nice feast from the fridge!

  2. Hi Lili,
    I wish we had your problem of tons of leftovers in the fridge! I cook just enough these days for our small family of three and if there are leftovers, they are eaten the next day for lunch. We have cut way down on meal preparation for financial reasons so we don't have the full fridge anymore.

    We had dinner at MIL yesterday but I did grill some small steaks that were in the freezer along with a vidalia onion and some roasted red peppers. We had a lovely day yesterday and when we got home from dinner I thought to get a head start on dinner for this week and since it was so nice I grilled. No one ate from that but it is nicely tucked in the fridge for tonight and tomorrow. We had all the fixings--onion, roasted red pepper, lettuce, plain yogurt in place of sour cream, and salsa. I think I'll cook a small pot of rice and then it can be fajitas or burritos.

    MIL also gave us a pot of soup she made--tortilla soup--from a package from Aldi. She saved herself a bowl and gave the rest to us. I guess I do have leftovers in the fridge after all!


    1. Hi Alice,
      It's actually rare for us to accumulate so many leftovers. But I could see them piling up and wanted to use them before any spoilage occurred.

      Those grilled steaks will be a nice start for dinners this week! I'm sure that you'll be glad you took the trouble to grill them over the weekend.

  3. Having so many stray basil plants, we need to use it almost daily, a very good source of vitamins and minerals, so not a problem. We seem to have rolling leftovers, to top off our leftover spaghetti in basil sauce, we made basil/pesto pizza bell peppers, mushrooms, and olives (from the freezer). The pizza was loaded with basil: in the pesto sauce, spread as a bed under the cheese, and with more loose leaves sprinkled over the pizza as the final topping. My husband loved the roasted basil leaves sitting on the pizza, so flavorful. That's another way of eating the basil, as chips.


    1. Sorry, too lazy to walk over to my desk to type on my laptop, so I wrote on my kindle changes words without my knowing and when I delete, it rearranged the Senate 've, see...


    2. Hi YHF,
      Lucky you to have all those basil plants! Your pizza sounds absolutely wonderful!

  4. Good meals, Lili! And I bet your daughters loved homemade chocolate chip cookies--I know that would be a hit around here!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Oh they loved them (and so did I !!)

  5. Hi Lili,
    Great job on the planned overs.Good job on filling up the punch card. That will be a fun treat for your daughters on their birthday. I am sure you know about the the birthday freebies. You just Google your area and the deals should pop up. Also Money saving mom and Hip 2 save have a list on there sites. I think I remember you posting about the free vanilla beans.

    1. Hi Patti,
      Thank you!
      My daughters are my resident experts on the birthday freebies in our area. their birthday falls just before spring break, each year. Last year, they spent nearly every day of spring break getting one freebie or another! And because they're twins, they have a companion to get their freebies with. Lucky gals!

  6. Glad you were able to get cooking done on Friday to make your weekend more relaxed. Just what you've been trying to do. Using up leftover ingredients is my favorite kind of cooking.


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