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Leftover is not a dirty word...

I've been back from South America for just over a week now, and for most of that time, I've been living on whatever I could scrounge from the fridge and pantry. We landed back in Perth last Sunday afternoon, and I didn't make it to the supermarket until after lunch the following Saturday.

I wasn't without help; dinner provided by my sister, a breakfast meeting, a mid-week treat lunch and lazy Friday night takeaway dinner, took care of 5 of the 18 meals between arriving home and making it to the supermarket. But that still leaves 13 meals for me to scrounge from what many would call an empty fridge and pantry.

My sister, who had been house sitting for us, cooked us dinner on Sunday night, and made sure we had milk and yoghurt to get us through the first morning, but after that, there were no guarantees. It actually started pretty innocently on Monday night - I was simply to tired after work to even contemplate the supermarket, so I just threw together a stir fry with the half wilty veges left behind in the crisper. I felt just as uninterested in the supermarket on Tuesday night, and by then I was starting to get a bit excited about this no-shopping thing. Between some pre-cooked beans stored in the freezer, a tin of tomatoes, some baby spinach left behind by my sister and the frozen corn that's always on hand, I pulled together a vegetarian chilli concoction that I would have been proud of any night of the week! After that, it was on. I decided I was not going to the supermarket until Friday night. I was helped along by the store of home made single serve soups and stews I keep in the freezer, and the many other random bits and pieces I couldn't bear to throw out so I've stashed in there.

The vege chilli. With tortilla chips, spinach, grilled corn & fetta.

The vege chilli. With tortilla chips, spinach, grilled corn & fetta.

Here's how the rest of the week panned out;

  • Wednesday breakfast - porridge
  • Wednesday lunch - I failed on this one, I took soup from the freezer to work with me, but hump day was hard first week back, so I snuck into the CBD for pho on my lunch break
  • Wednesday dinner - feeling guilty, I had the cannelini and leek soup from lunch, and poached half a chicken boob, from the freezer, in the soup as it was reheating
  • Thursday breakfast - saved by a breakfast meeting!
  • Thursday lunch - minestrone soup from the freezer
  • Thursdsay dinner - last minute dinner at my sisters (saving me from a scrambled egg breakfast-for-dinner situation)
  • Friday breakfast - scrambled eggs with spinach
  • Friday lunch - quinoa & vege soup, again, from the freezer
  • Friday dinner (with The Husband) - neither of us made it home til 7.30, so we piked and ordered Thai take away.
  • Saturday breakfast - porridge
  • Saturday lunch - The Husband had the Thai leftovers, I had another minestrone soup from the freezer.

I consider myself pretty good with leftovers, very rarely do I throw food out, but this was a new level entirely. A whole week without the supermarket. My main concern was a lack of veges, but thanks to the bag of baby spinach, and the vegetarian skew of my freezer stocks, I think I did ok there.

Most Australian households throw out around $1000 worth of food annually. Not only is this a waste of money, but also a waste of the resources it took to produce and transport that food.

So, next time you're about to head to the shops, have another look at your fridge. Do you really need to buy more food? Can you make something with what's there? Is there something you can substitute if you're missing a 'key' ingredient?

I often turn to soup to get another meal out of the odds and ends in the fridge. Do you have a favourite leftovers meal?