I declared this Freezer-Pantry Clean Out Week, with capital letters and everything so you know it's totally legit. When you can't open your freezer without things falling at your feet, it's probably time to see what you've even got in there. Plus it's April and my favorite farmers' market opens in May (!!!), so it's go time, people.
Fun fact: I didn't go into this with any plans... I just opened up the freezer and went from there. Tossing random foodstuffs on the counter and coming up with a meal was way more entertaining than I'd expected. I enjoyed the challenge very much.
Also, I might be a food hoarder. Next week is Freezer-Pantry Clean Out Week II.
Freezer items: Cooked leftover chicken, corn tortillas from who knows when, walnuts
Refrigerator items: Leftover homemade salsa from Friday's taco night, sour cream from Abby's celebratory Confirmation cheesecake, cheddar slices, leftover salad and dressing
Meal: Enchiladas, salad, chocolate chip cookies
You could successfully argue that these weren't real enchiladas, but come on! My ancestors were Scandinavian. Apparently. That's another post. Um, anyway, I whirled the chicken around in my food processor (chop, chop chop) and dabbed a good spoonful on a corn tortilla. I placed a slice of cheese on top and rolled that sucker up. And repeated that process like seven more times. Then I put salsa over everything and covered it with a few more cheese slices and presto, enchiladas. If I'd have had more salsa, I'd have mixed some into the chicken, too, but I did not, and I did not feel like opening up another can of tomatoes, either.
I had mercy on the family and made chocolate chip cookies--using the walnuts--and then claimed the rest for lunches only. Surprisingly, the cookies lasted through the week. I can't believe everyone listened to me. P.S. I got the chocolate chips in the bulk section using a pint jar. It's a good thing I'd only bought enough for a batch of cookies, or I'd have polished off the rest in one sitting. Those things were tasty.
This was the best received meal of the week. Even Johanna went nuts. That did a lot for my self-esteem.
Freezer items: Chopped Walla Walla sweets, Sungold tomatoes (whole and dried), zucchini, blackberries, rhubarb, cooked leftover shredded pork, pan rolls
Refrigerator items: Fresh mozzarella
Pantry items: Penne pasta, powdered sugar, canned cherries
Meal: Pasta, rolls, leftover Confirmation salad (Tuesday), cherries (Wednesday), Rhubarb Crumb Bars
The thing I like about pasta meals is that you can throw all kinds of crap in there and no one is any wiser. I caramelized onions, added zucchini and tomatoes and let that simmer around for a while. Then I threw half of that ordeal in my blender... only to remember that Sungolds are orange and look really gross when blended. No matter. I added both the blended and the non-blended portion to the pasta, then mixed in the shredded pork and bits of mozzarella. I had planned on putting in the oven to melt the cheese, but the pasta and sauce were still warm, so I didn't need to after all. The end. It still looked kind of iffy, I won't lie. Also, I learned shredded pork is not my favorite mix-in when it comes to pasta sauce. But hey, we got fed. Yay us!
For dessert, I made this snack cake from my now defunct but still beloved Everyday Food magazine. I bought six bags of powdered sugar in November during a baking sale. Why did I do that? The snack cake uses powdered sugar, though, so win. Add blackberries and rhubarb, and I got to use all kinds of junk! P.S. This season, I am not going to freeze rhubarb. There are limits, people.
Freezer items: Pan rolls
Refrigerator items: Very ripe avocado, that jar of cherries from the night before
Pantry items: Sweet potatoes
Meal: Sandwiches, sweet potato pancakes, cherries
Thursday was Abby's high school open house night. You can insert a few choice swear words here and maybe some mumblings about how she cannot possibly be old enough to go to high school, but the fact of the matter is she's really excited, and she's going to have a ton of fun opportunities (way more than Eric and I had when we went there, it's okay, we're not bitter, much), and I just keep repeating that to myself and maybe someday I'll believe it even in my heart.
Anyway, there wasn't a lot of time for dinner in a general sort of way, so I made this sweet potato pancake recipe (before work, and I modified it, but you can do what you want). Eric opened up a can of whoop-ass... I mean cherries... and made deli sandwiches with avocado slices. Avocado makes everything better. Felt kind of lame, but there was literally three minutes to eat dinner before leaving, and anyway, no one complained. We'll count that as a victory.
Freezer items: Cooked leftover pork, homemade barbecue sauce, those damn never-ending pan rolls, raspberries
Refrigerator items: Confirmation cheese slices that had been previously overlooked
Pantry items: Huh. I guess none.
Meal: Barbecue pork sandwiches, leftover sweet potato pancakes, raspberries
I have some honest to heck hamburger buns in the freezer, too, but I wanted to use up the pan rolls once and for all. Also, it's Friday, man! No one wants to cook or think. This is something I make on purpose quite a bit (thus the leftover pork... a roast makes a lot), so no one noticed the freezer-pantry clean out elements. Since the salad dried up Tuesday night, side dishes have been a challenge, but I suppose that's the point. Plain ol' raspberries aren't the worst thing.
Um, we had take-and-bake pizza with my parents after Mass. Because they invited us! And also because we'd have to do that anyway, I guess, because the cupboards were bare. And when I get hungry, I sort of forget things like "minimalism" and "Zero Waste."
****You know what, though? I feel good about this project. Especially since I spent like $40 on groceries for the week (lunch stuff, fruit and milk). My freezer is a little emptier, which makes me happy. It looks manageable in there. And I have a very good idea about next week's ordeal now that I can see what was pushed to the way back.
Also: I feel very zero-wastey. Mostly.