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i try hard to not let any food that i purchase go to waste in my refrigerator by going bad/expiring. it always feels insanely wasteful to me to throw out perfectly good food that just got forgotten for a bit too long. obviously, it happens and there are moments when you leave town unexpectedly or you literally just don’t look far enough in to see that bunch of kale in the back. it’s kind of a fun challenge/game to come up with great meals that use up items that are on the brink of going bad. here are few of my go-to recipes that are very forgiving and are perfect for using up forgotten fridge items.  for myself, what i mostly find that i’m scrambling to use up is produce, cheeses, dairy and sometimes meats like bacon, chicken, etc so most of these recipes include those items, heavy on the produce! -joanie

save the food | designlovefest

#1. trader joe’s frozen organic pizza crust – we keep a package of these in our freezer at all times. because what’s more delicious and easy to prepare than a pizza! i make the whole thing in my cast iron, i start by preheating it to 425 with the cast iron in the oven. set the pizza crust out while the oven preheats. then pull out the cast iron, put the dough directly in the oiled pan and top. i generally don’t have tomato sauce on hand so i use olive oil as my base. for the cheese, you can mix anything you have. i’ve used everything under the sun. if it’s a soft cheese, like fresh mozzarella or goat cheese i put it on top of all of the toppings. i literally pull out all of my produce that’s about to go bad and go to town. zucchini, tomatoes, fresh herbs, roasted veggies like sweet potatoes and cauliflower, caramelize some onions, chop up some garlic, top with bacon/chicken/steak, etc. the options are endless!

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#2. frittata – another favorite and something that keeps well is a frittata. again, i use my cast iron and start by sautéing my vegetables. any veggies that i have laying around! i first put in the things that take longest, mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, etc. and salt and pepper them (if i have bacon, i’ll cook up a few strips of that and than drain out half the oil and sauté the veggies in the bacon grease, it’s so good!) and then add softer items like tomatoes and greens towards the end as they require very little time to cook.whisk together 10 eggs with a splash of milk and a big pinch of salt and pour over the cooked veggies, top with shredded cheese and put in the oven to cook for 15-ish minutes. the center should feel hard to the touch and bounce back slightly when you push on it.

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#3. roasted veggie bowls – it’s as simple as it sounds. i use brown rice as the base and roast up veggies like sweet potato, onion, carrot, mushrooms, cauliflower with avocado oil, pink salt and garlic. 425 degrees until some of the veggies look charred, about 30 minutes. top with hummus, pesto, garlic spread or tahini and a squeeze of lime. this is a very easy and satisfying dinner! you can also top with an egg if you’re looking for more protein.

#4 fruit – for fruit that is going bad i either make a bread/muffin or wash and freeze for smoothies. for spinach or fresh greens, i will sometimes make a veggie egg dish by steaming the greens and topping them with a fried egg and hot sauce. greens steam down into a really small amount and can easily be snuck into a meal.

save the food | designlovefest

#5 meatballs –  if i have any ground meat around that’s going bad, lamb, beef, chicken or turkey,  i make meatballs! i mix it all in one bowl, start by adding the meat, then an egg, 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, some shredded zucchini if you have on hand, salt, pepper, two chopped cloves of garlic, any fresh herbs you have around or dried work great too (thyme, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, cumin, etc are all great), some shredded parmesan cheese (if you have it!) and 1/4 cup minced white onion. you can either fry on the stove top or bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

now it’s your turn! what’s your go-to meal when you’re trying to save food from being thrown out?


Add your own

    Kat says:

    You already got most of the big ones, but soup is a good one too! Hardy root vegetables (carrots, turnips, potatoes, squashes) make great purée soup. Summery veggies (zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes, corn, greens) taste great in a brothy veggie soup. Onions, garlic, ginger, herbs, taste great in either!

    Becca says:

    I call mine Kitchen Sink Curry. Whatever veggies are about to go, meat if it’s available, spiralized noodles if I need to use up a zucchini – throw it in a pot of coconut milk with green curry paste and some extra spice. If I have sweet potato, I’ll blend a little of that in with the coconut milk to thicken it up. SO good.

    Caitlin says:

    Love this!!!! We are all for no waste!
    We do a celery top pesto (nuts, garlic, oil, celery tops, salt, blend) with chicken or cheese in a pasta. There is so much waste with celery otherwise!!!!
    We also add ANYTHING to a meat sauce for bolognese.
    Another tip is to keep a bag of off cuts in your fridge to use in homemade stock. The root part of celery, peels, skin, fiborous parts of leek or asparagus….keep adding them to your stock bag in the fridge, if you have a roast bone or chicken carcass throw it all in together with seasoning and simmer all day = fridge stock!!

    bri says:

    love these tips, thank you!

    Lizzy says:

    Love this! I’ve totally used the pizza trick and am a big fan of curry to use up old veggies. It’s so easy to keep a bottle of TJ’s Thai Curry sauce, for example, in the pantry and just add it to veggies for an instant meal!

    Freezing fruits and veggies is a great trick too for going out of town last minute. Chop ’em up and decide what to use them for later!

    bri says:

    yes, love TJ’s curry sauce! I’m addicted!

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