The Green’s fridge inventory

Filed in Blog by on January 26, 2009 18 Comments
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leftoversI’ve just taken a peek in our ‘fridge. Knowing what is lurking in there and how long it has before it ends up unusable is an important part of zero waste. Although raw food can be composted, cooked food is another matter. If it doesn’t get used up, it ends up in the landfill, where, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t rot down, it emits methane instead. Methane contributes to global warming.

Nestling in our ‘fridge tonight I found some chicken from the weekend, which my two have just polished off with chips, peas and sweetcorn for tea. I think it can be safely said, that there is something strangely comforting about cold chicken and chips.

I also found:

a few tablespoons evaporated milk
1/2 jar tikka sauce
2 half blocks of cheese
left over roast potatoes and meat from Sunday
left over mashed potato and cooked broccoli and carrots from the weekend
almost 1 pint milk
1 portion of cooked rice

For lunch today, Little Miss Green was out and Mr Green and I used up some leftovers. He ate curry and rice and I ate rice, stir fry and lentils.chicken chips

Although we managed to go out and buy some zero waste convenience food this weekend, it looks like I have enough leftovers to create a few meals already. I think I’ll be making waffles (waffles made with evaporated milk taste like ice cream cones!), curry, fish pie, custard and a savoury rice cake. That should keep us going for a while!

Tomorrow we have the local paper coming to visit to take some photos, so it’s all go! No wonder I don’t have time to cook much this week 😀

What about you? Do you have anything to use up in your fridge this week – what are you planning to make? We have some top tips coming from Rob Rees, the county’s favourite chef later in the week, so stay tuned!

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (18)

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  1. Christine says:

    Lasagna. I made a big vegetable lasagna this weekend for four of us, and we didn’t eat half of it. I’ll have to look up how to freeze it because I can never remember.

  2. Kris says:

    Our fridge is quite stripped down as we ate the last meal ingredients out of it tonight. I do admire the cooking skills you have to do all sorts of things from scratch. I tend not to keep things like eggs in as standard, they’re always bought for purpose and used straight off, but I can manage to keep tomato or chilli paste ready to put into meals for a bit of interest.

  3. Mrs Jackson says:

    Hi Mrs Green

    Your article reminded me that there were Sunday leftovers in the fridge – but turns out Mr.J is taking zero waste very seriously and has already eaten them! I opened your favourite yoghurt today so that shall need eating (I intend to model build with it afterwards with my 5 year old) and have some mince ready to make lasagna tomorrow.

  4. Di Hickman says:

    hehehe I had leftovers for lunch! Aloo gobi with rice. I have 3 portions of rice leftover and have plans to have that tomorrow evening. In the fridge I have: more aloo gobi, channa masala, pasta sauce, cheese, tofurkey, minced ‘meat’, and an eggplant and more cauliflower, oh and soup! Pretty much meals for the whole week and then some!

  5. Oh dear, you can’t compost cooked food? Like if you have some leftover cooked carrots, you can’t throw those in with the compost?

    I think I’ve done stuff like that a few times…hopefully I haven’t screwed up my compost bin.

  6. Rik Boland says:

    Not really sure but my wife calls me tight with money but lets call it frugal. Perhaps it is due to the fact that we are both vegetarians (I a wanna be Vegan/), or that we have organic veg box deliveries for what ever reason we have no not alot of waste in the fridge. Some vegan spread and butter, tub of pasta our house mates, soy milk and chutney (home made). Some leaf veg (not sure what it is) and that it.

    We are minus a fridge thermometer (really need one them!!!!)

  7. Poppy says:

    We have some veg that needs using up, including a glut of red cabbage. Amazing stuff red cabbage, it seems to be the Cliff Richard of vegetables – it never looks any older !!

    We also have some mince that I purchased today, so I think we’re heading for some kind of savoury mince dish tomorrow (with red cabbage of course) 🙂

  8. Kim says:

    We never seem to have much leftover food in the fridge but I do admit to a glut of jars sat on the bottom shelf containing jams, curry paste & pickles to name a few!! I do sort these out and use them up but we arn’t big jam eaters so it gets put in the fridge as it tends to keep longer! So any suggestions to reduce this glut of jars would be great.

    I will be cooking chicken with pasta and a homemade version of carbonnara for tea tonight and will probably have some left for the mine & the teens lunch too!

    I normally try to plan my meals but this does tend to involve me rushing through the fridge or freezer on my way out to work and throwing randon items out for defrosting and then working out what to cook later in the day or waiting for inspiration when I get home.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @Christine: Hi Christine, what did you find out about freezing lasagne? I Looked at some lasagne sheets today and considered buying them, but Mr Green doesn’t really like pasta.

    @Kris: We’re all different Kris, it’s all about finding out what your family likes and how to serve those meals with minimal waste and least effort for yourself. It’s great if you enjoy cooking, but if you don’t, or are pushed for time then it’s fine to reach for familiar stuff.

    @Mrs Jackson: Another good day then, Mrs J. I’m glad Mr J is on board too and is being your personal food digester. Enjoy the yogurt; it never hangs around long enough to go off here. Even the cat has a teaspoon of it for breakfast 😀

    @Di Hickman: Your fridge always sounds full of lovely sounding things, Di – the gobi Aloo and channa masala and you always manage to use things up too, which is great.

    @[email protected] Frugal Girl: Kristen, you won’t have ruined your compost, but you might find a nest of rats or otherwise moving in for bed and board 😉

    @Rik Boland: Hi Rik; we were talking about a fridge thermometer today. I think one of fridges might be a bit warm. I think it’s great that you don’t have too much fresh stuff hanging around and a weekly veg box is ideal for using things up in time because you know it is soon going to be replaced 🙂

    @Poppy: Red cabbage – I agree, it lasts forever and a day! Shredded and baked in the oven with cider vinegar, a tablespoon of apricot jam and some butter on a low heat for a couple of hours. Mmmmmmmmm

    @Kim: It sounds like things work well in your house, Kim. Not sure about the glut of jars; at least these are things that don’t go off quickly. We use jam stirred into plain yogurt, sandwiched between cakes, dolloped on porrage or rice pudding and in the baked rede cabbage mentioned above. And bakewell tart is one of LMG’s favourites, so that uses up quite a bit. I even add some to smoothies if the fruits are predominantly sour (or old and lacking in flavour!)
    Pickle gets put into savoury dishes like you would use, whatever it is you use – soy sauce, worcerstershire sauce, tabasco etc. It’s nice in curries, shepherd pies etc I’d probably chuck it in the chicken and pasta and carbonanara you are making 😀

  10. maisie says:

    @Kim: I would use the jams up similar to how Mrs G has mentioned but it is also great under a sponge as a quick cheap dessert. Especially if you cook in the micro.

    Sauces and pickles can quite successfully be hidden/used in mince dishes.

  11. maisie says:

    Mrs G, I need to check what is in my fridge also.

    I do seem at the moment to be running out of space in the freezer as I will take say a chicken out for dinner then the leftovers are frozen for use another day, then the carcass is cooked in the slow cooker overnight, some is frozen for use as stock some made into soup with any veggies which need using; which in turn again some is used for me for lunches but some is frozen.

    So from one chicken I end up with usually at least 6 pots going back into the freezer, as well as having had a dinner and at least 2/3 lunches.

  12. Kris says:

    I’ve never been any good at cooking which has rules – but I’m fine with anything you can wing it for!

    I freeze lasagne with no problems. I make it in individual pie dishes and leave the freezer ones without cheese topping till they’re needed as that seemed to be the only thing that was less nice afterward.

    It’s fascinating looking at someone else’s perspective on using up jam. These days I always look for my jam/honey type things at markets or farm shops where you can get tiny little ones because they are realistic for our needs – which don’t really encompass baking or the right sort of puddings.

  13. Layla says:

    lol Kris, I prefer to be creative with cooking too!! 🙂
    /my cookies or muffins were never the same!! :)/

    Well, if you have your own compost & use it in the garden, you can absolutely totally compost food leftovers!! we’ve done it all the time.. and it was always done on farms too, except when the leftovers where given to piggies or such..

    There are specific rules in cities and for compost bins with stuff to be taken elsewhere.. So it is good to know the specific rules in your area, most probably it will be no meat or such.. (at least it is so here..)

    Some places worldwide have special smaller bins for food leftovers (which are picked up more frequently) and special larger bins for peels and such..(which are picked up less often as they don’t go bad & don’t start to smell so soon) – I think this is really wise.. And in the Phillipines I think some places have services to pick up food leftovers daily if I remember it right..
    So basically it really depends on the location where you are, how it is..

    Thanks for the info on methane! I was wondering how to tell my neighbours why putting food waste or even rotten potatoes into the bin may be bad, this helps explain it better!
    And basically the methane helps start landfill fires (plastics and such burn well) which can also cause all sorts of bad chemicals to go into the air (often/usually even without the filters that incinerators are supposed to have!) eg see http://www.energyjustice.net/lfg/ (not for the faint-hearted! :))

  14. Layla says:

    Hm, I am really uncomfortable with banana peels now.. Especially conventional (non-organic) orange & banana peels.. We’re not really comfortable with composting them and using them in the garden because of the toxic chemicals they’ve been treated with.. and landfill now seems even a worse option.. We just haven’t bought any for a while.. (as organic are hard to find here, and who knows how ‘eco’ even the ‘organic’ ones are..? with the lack of transparency in this area, & different laws in every country..)

    Any suggestions on what to do with (potentially toxic) banana peels and such?

  15. Poppy says:

    Bananas – toxic?? Please explain 🙁

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie: YOu seem to have a lot of confidence with thawing and freezing chicken, Maisie and it’s clear you’ve come to no harm. For some reason I panic a bit with chicken. At least we have a cat who will eat things up, but you seem to have really sussed things out.

    @Layla: I’m trying to get the link to open; it’s not playing at the moment, but i’m looking forward to reading it. Thank you!
    Tbh, I feel that if we look *too* carefully at the fruit and veg we eat we would find reason to eat NONE of it unless grown in our own back gardens from our own seed! We have to balance paranoia with just making the most of what we have available to us. I throw banana peelings on the compost heap, but we are fortunate enough to buy fairtrade, organic ones…………
    Poppy, banana growers potentially use some of the most potent and damaging chemicals against diseases; some of these are carcinogens (which, apparently can penetrate the thick skins so that we eat them) . I believe there have been horror stories about workers going blind from the long term use of these chemicals.

  17. Layla says:

    Oh gosh, Poppy – didn’t wanna scare you!! 🙂

    Bananas are usually /sorta/ okay to eat (in not too big amounts), but the peels are usually sprayed with pesticides and such, so… the peels are a biggest problem..
    A friend of mine who studied agriculture washed whole oranges and other such fruit & said ‘if people knew what was sprayed on to them..’ not just pesticides, also stuff to keep fruits fresh & looking good and avoid mold etc.
    (But personally I prefer to touch the peels as little as possible, to avoid contact with the toxics on the fruits..)

    See this, for example: http://current.com/items/89407434/toxic_bananas.htm
    Or google ‘toxic bananas’ or ‘bananas pesticides’ etc…

    the ideal would be to buy certified fair trade organic, our small town hasn’t heard of this yet though..

  18. Layla says:

    lol Mrs Green, we crossposted!! 🙂
    If you get certified really organic free trade it’s probably quite okay to compost..

    I’m really going to try to hunt down some organic fair trade bananas – not sure if they exist in Slovenia-??

    I just googled up some ‘eco’ ones & they are 2 or 3 times more expensive than ‘ordinary’ ones! (& wrapped into plastic!!)

    The horrible truth is that some so-called (!) ‘eco’ produce here in shops is really badly packaged, into plastics etc. 🙁 grr!! – & it is questionably ‘eco’ too.. so even if finding ‘eco’ bananas, in a city or so, it would still be perhaps a bit questionable how organic they actually are.. and there would probably be car travel involved to get them..
    Still, I can try & will report if I find some.. 🙂

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