Eating Down the Fridge: A Week of Menus


Karin Calloway is a recipe developer and journalist who works as the food columnist for The Augusta Chronicle, online chef for Viking Range Corporation and editor of Augusta Family Magazine. She and her husband, Bond, live in Augusta, Ga., with their two teenagers. Karin “tweets” about what she’s cooking at twitter.com/KarinCalloway.


(Photo courtesy of Karin Calloway)

Kim’s blog has been stored in my favorites for some time, and I read about the Eating Down the Fridge challenge in March with much interest. When I read that she was holding the challenge again, I sent her an e-mail to see if the readers of my column in The Augusta Chronicle could join in. I promoted the challenge in last week’s column, and am looking forward to hearing how my readers are using what they have on hand.

I’m participating in the challenge, too, and since I work in recipe development, I could probably continue the challenge for more than a month. Literally.

The number of refrigerators in our home is a family joke. There is one in the kitchen, two refrigerators plus a stand-up freezer in the garage and one Viking outdoor mini fridge on the patio.

Not only are there lots of refrigerators, there is a lot of food. Leftover photo shoot food, food for the next photo shoot, leftover food from the week that I worked as the personal chef for a corporate CEO (stored in the freezer), along with every type of frozen meat that I purchased on sale and froze for later use. In the stand-up freezer alone, there is the following: a whole beef tenderloin, three pounds of lamb tenderloins, two bags of chicken cutlets, three pork loin roasts and eight skinless fillets of Scottish salmon. This list doesn’t touch what is actually in there! It has gotten kind of ridiculous.

My first step in the challenge was taking an inventory. I did this last Friday. Saturday it was time to clean out leftovers, which were plentiful, make out menus and hit the corner produce stand for fresh produce and the supermarket for dairy products and bread. My goal is to do breakfast, lunch and dinner with what I have on hand, supplemented only by the shopping I did on Saturday. By the way, we are a family of four and the children (both teenagers) are included in the plan. For snacks, there is microwave popcorn, peanut butter crackers, apples (which need to be eaten) and canned soups.

Here’s my plan for the week.

Sunday
Breakfast: Cinnamon rolls (homemade, from my freezer), scrambled eggs and bacon -- special breakfast for Father’s Day.
Lunch: Tuna, white bean, tomato and cucumber salad tossed with olive oil, vinegar, a little garlic and fresh mint from the back yard. I may serve this with some of the crusty bread I picked up Saturday.
Father’s Day Dinner: Grilled beef tenderloin, smashed baby potatoes, grilled asparagus tossed with olive oil and feta, sautéed grape tomatoes and peach pie (peaches from the produce stand, crust from the fridge).

Monday
Breakfast: Ham rolls (from the freezer: bread dough rolled jelly-roll style around Black forest ham and Muenster cheese. Just need to defrost, let rise, slice and bake), watermelon.
Lunch: Leftover beef tenderloin sandwiches, chips and cherries
Dinner: Breaded chicken cutlets drizzled with lemon and caper vinaigrette, arugula salad, grape tomatoes

Tuesday
Breakfast: Cereal and milk, bananas
Lunch: Hummus (canned chick peas pureed with tahini, garlic, lemon juice) served with baked flour tortilla chips (to use up some of the tortillas I have in the freezer -- I have about 20 tortillas to use up), carrot sticks, cherries
Dinner: Salmon in citrus BBQ sauce, couscous, shredded carrot salad

Wednesday
Breakfast: Bran muffins (using a box of All-Bran I found in the back of the cabinet and some leftover buttermilk that needs to be used before it goes bad), bananas, cottage cheese
Lunch: Leftover salmon broken up into pieces and tossed together with the leftover couscous and carrot salad.
Dinner: Bow tie pasta with clam sauce (I don’t have any linguine. I’ll make this by doctoring up jarred pasta sauce along with canned clams), cucumber and tomato salad, watermelon for dessert.

Thursday
Breakfast: Scrambled ham and eggs (ham from the freezer) rolled into flour tortillas, the last of the bananas
Lunch: Tuna salad, saltine crackers, grape tomatoes, cherries
Dinner: Pinto beans (cooked with onion, jalapeno and cumin), cornbread (made from scratch), the last of the cucumbers and tomatoes as a salad, this time with some of the remaining watermelon thrown in along with some fresh mint from the back yard.

Friday
Breakfast: Cereal, bananas
Lunch: Leftover pinto beans reheated and then rolled in what will probably be the last of the flour tortillas along with some shredded cheddar cheese
Dinner: Pork loin on the grill, baked sweet potatoes, green pea salad (the only vegetables left in the house will be frozen at this point), ice cream sundaes

Saturday
Breakfast: Pancakes or waffles made from scratch, country ham (from the freezer), frozen fruit smoothies
Lunch: Egg salad with crackers, leftover green pea salad
Dinner: Grilled lamb tenderloin (marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and oregano), spanakopita made with puff pastry (leftover spanakopita filling and a box of puff pastry -- both from the freezer -- I don’t have any phyllo, so puff pastry will have to do. I may actually put the grilled lamb inside the puff pastry!)

By Kim ODonnel |  June 22, 2009; 8:00 AM ET Eating Down the Fridge
Previous: Celestial Feasting, Fete-ing on the Solstice | Next: Emptying the Fridge on Meatless Monday

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That's one heck of a fridge! I can't say as I'm nearly that organized. It didn't hurt that I forgot that the challenge was this week. So, no preparation this time. It's my imagination vs. the pantry. A few targets I have are the dozen cans of tomatoes in the pantry (pasta, anyone?) and a few jars that have been sitting in the pantry for awhile. Plus, I bought some quinoa ages ago and haven't gotten around to it.

Sunday night dinner was sancocho, a Latin American stew. I actually got the recipe from a children's book, El Sancocho del Sabado. Nice story and a good dish. In essence, make a broth from a mid-sized whole chicken and add yuca, carrots, green plantains, corn cobs and whatever else strickes your fancy (a red pepper struck mine). Top with a soffrito of garlic, onion, tomatoes, and cumin. It's great over rice.

For tonight, there's that jar of nopalitos that I've been eyeing. They've been sitting around for far too long. I know of a good Mexican dish with beef and nopalitos. It calls for tomatillos, which I don't have. However, I've a nice can of Italian cherry tomatoes that should do nicely. Perhaps I'll juice a lime or two to kick up the acidity. Ironically, I had the same problem in reverse for the last challenge. I used my can of tomatillos to make a romesco sauce when I ran out of tomatoes. Let's see if I can sub in reverse.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | June 22, 2009 8:46 AM

Our freezer is the place where I tend to collect food; food purchased either in bulk (quarter of a lamb, chickens, salmon filets at group price) or quickly frozen for use later (herbs, peppers, pestos from last summer's bounty). This week, other than purchasing fresh dairy products and produce from the markets, I'll be working on that freezer.

Posted by: CentreofNowhere | June 22, 2009 8:53 AM

That's funny, we also did spanikopita to use some phyllo dough and kale. Later this week, we'll use up about 10 things that had been cloggin up the pantry and freezer. I have a feeling this adventure will carry into next week because I didn't find room on the menu for everything I want to use.

It's definitely hard to use things up while still taking advantage of what's in season. For this week, I still bought fresh stuff from the market. The only thing things I'm buying from the grocery store are OJ and some crushed tomatoes for a curry.

Posted by: r3hsad | June 22, 2009 9:47 AM

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