End of week fridge clean out
The one constant in my hectic life is the random ingredients in the bottom of the vegetable drawer. For years I’ve been meaning to meal plan, have even drafted up a two-week menu complete with supermarket shopping list, but I just never get around to it. The truth is, I’ll often wake up craving a certain meal and I like to indulge in that way – going to the supermarket (even though I hate going to the supermarket!) and getting what I need to eat the meal I woke up in the mood for. The upside is, I’ve become somewhat of an expert in creating meals out of the leftover ingredients from my weeknight cravings.
The good thing about vegetables is that so many of them go well with others, so usually for me the first step is to determine whether the veggies I’ve got left are more of a raw salad, roast vegetables, or stir-fry variety. I tend to group them as follows, though many vegetables can be eaten a number of ways, so this is just my personal preference:
- For raw vegetables, I would consider tomatoes, red/green/yellow bell peppers (capsicums), cucumbers, carrots, green beans, cauliflower/broccoli, corn, and cabbage in this category.
- For roasted vegetables, potatoes and sweet potatoes of course, but also pumpkin, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant, onion, corn, asparagus, and red/green/yellow bell peppers all roast up beautifully.
- For stir-fry, I tend to go any vegetable that can easily be pan-fried: cabbage, zucchini, green beans, onion, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes can sometimes sneak in too.
There’s a few great ideas on Love My Salad already if you’re serving a family or group, like this fantastic cheesy vegetable lunchbox bread, or this simple green cauliflower quiche (of course, subbing out whatever you’ve got in the fridge – even better if it’s cauliflower or broccoli!). These are both light, easy meals made with ingredients you generally have on hand, like eggs, milk, and flour.
Me personally, leftovers night is often a little bit more relaxed as it’s usually just me and my daughter. So, depending on what types of veg I have on hand, I’ll usually do one of the following.
For raw vegetables, finely chop 3-5 different types – e.g. tomato, red and green bell pepper, carrot, and cucumber. Mix in a small bowl with a tin of tuna; I don’t really love mayonnaise, but you can also mix in a bit of mayo, or even fresh lemon juice and olive oil, and a little salt and pepper. If I have cheese and crackers on hand, I’ll usually melt some cheese on crackers and divide up the tuna salad to top the crackers. Simple and yum! If you’re in the mood for something a little bit more exciting, this bright, Southeast Asian style raw vegetable salad can give you a little inspiration.
For roasted vegetables, I’ll roast up whatever I have and either mix into a cool salad, with greens, some feta, and an easy vinaigrette (easy recipe inspiration here), or sometimes just serve on toast with a nice spread like hummus, feta, or avocado depending what I’ve got at home. This easy, traditional Spanish dish works great with a large variety of roasted vegetables.
Last but not least, what could be easier than a stir fry? Nearly any vegetable will work in a simple stir-fry, and if you have leftover protein or some fresh tofu around, throw that in as well. A few simple ingredients like honey, soy sauce, chicken broth (hello, chicken cubes in the pantry) and maybe some sesame oil (here’s my simple recipe), boil up some rice if you don’t have noodles, and bam, quick and healthy dinner done – and you used up your leftovers!