My dear friend Melynn introduced me to this term, "refrigerator surprise!" Its key word for, I don't have anything to make ONE WHOLE meal but I do have a lot of food in the fridge that needs to be consumed. We have all been there... read a blog or thumbed through a cook book then when to the grocery store while STARVING and bought all of the food you could fit in one, narrow Trader Joe's shopping cart.
You come home. You make one REALLY good dinner... then the rest of the food sits in the fridge. It doesn't all work together really, although one time I had limes and ripe avocados and made the most delicious popsicles ever (seriously, that happened), so don't limit yourself! Then, BAMN, a work trip sneaks up on you; and suddenly you need to cook mushrooms + eat avocados + cook ground turkey + drink that LAST little bit of rose' + finish of the leftovers. NOT to fear! SJ is here!
Here are some things you can do on refrigerator surprise night:
Sandwich. This might seem obvious, but you can make ANYTHING into a sandwich. Before my most recent work trip I was able to use up the end of some braised chickpeas and a ripe avocado to make the most glorious open faced "health" sandwich!!
Pizza. You can pizza almost ANYTHING (last night I made mushroom, shallot, and prosciutto pizza... last week I made roasted sweet potato pizza). Root veggies, roasted chicken, leftover greens. Make it fun! Between great pre-made dough options at the grocery store and all of the easy at home dough recipes, it's a no brainer!
Soup. This is especially effective if you have some sort of ground meat to use up. Sautee some onions and garlic... add ground turkey or Italian sausage out of the casing... brown the meat then add in 4-8 cups of a broth/water combo then throw in chopped up veggies or even greens or noodles. BaBAM soup!
Pasta. Similar to pizza, you can pasta almost anything. Veggies/meat/can of tomatoes or heavy cream + noodles. Perfection!
Breakfast. You can turn almost any combo of veggies and meat into the best breakfast for dinner you've ever had. This is especially effective if one of the things you need to use up is eggs. Frittata some sausage and onions and root veggies + cheese and yumminess galore! Or, shred up carrots and potatoes to make a hash. Insert fruit into pancake batter. Combinations + options are endless!
Y'all. I'm now hungry and a little sad that I didn't go the breakfast route last night when enjoying some refrigerator surprise!
So, next time you open your fridge without a good meal plan and don't know WHAT to do, make some magic. Pick the type of thing you want to eat and consider what ingredients you have... then go wild! This is also a great exercise in helping to firm up your pantry. For example: "I always wish I had coconut milk handy and rarely do" OR "I really like refrigerator surprise soup, so I should keep a few cartons of stock handy" OR "I always have pasta handy, maybe I should have canned tomatoes for pasta refrigerator surprise at the ready as well." Really this is a good opportunity to expand your horizons, get creative in the kitchen, and test some new flavor combinations!
What's your favorite "Refrigerator surprise" combo? What are your pantry staples that can make something out of nothing in a jiffy? Tell me more!