Do you ever look into your fridge and think, "There's nothing to eat. Better go to the store?" Because I do that occasionally. Reality check: There's plenty of food in my fridge, freezer, and pantry. All I have to do is put it together. The other day, short on time and cash, I pulled out the slow cooker and made dinner, without buying a single thing. Here's what I did.
I made soup, with a bag of Brussels sprouts that weren't quite fresh enough to eat plain, chorizo from the freezer, half an onion (because I always seem to have half an onion), and some frozen chicken broth. And I managed to get all the kids to and from wherever it was they needed to go while my soup simmered.
But I didn't stop there.
The next night, with one serving of soup left, I was still short on cash, and craving adult company. I texted a few friends, asking them over for a potluck meal, otherwise known as "how to get other people to cook for you." I pulled out the leftover soup, a half jar of marinara, another onion, and a can of tomatoes, and heated them all together in a pan. Presto chango...pasta sauce! We always have pasta in the pantry.
One guest brought salad fixings, another offered delicious roasted okra, someone else brought cookies, and I pulled out a block of cheese and some whole wheat Melba toast as an appetizer.
As an aside, I do love a low pressure, weeknight potluck. Guests can come straight from work, and store-bought dishes are welcome. (I feel bad for not making this rule more clear to my friend who rushed home to cook okra, but — dang — that okra was delicious!) We ended up with eight people around the table, plenty of adults to entertain me, and plenty of vegetables to complement the pasta.
The third night, I heated some oil in a pan, added the leftover pasta, and poured five beaten eggs over the top. When the egg was almost cooked through, I sprinkled Parmesan on top and put a lid on it. Presto chango...frittata!
→ Get the recipe: Leftover Pasta? Make a Frittata!
There was even a little frittata left over for breakfast.
Somehow, we made three meals, hosted a dinner party, and had enough left for breakfast, out of nothing at all. All I had to do was take a minute to think. Going to the store would have taken much longer. And this was a lot more fun!
How often do you improvise with ingredients on hand? Is it a fun challenge or totally annoying?