Helpful Tips for Fridge Foraging — the Cook by Color Method
The basic formats are explained below, but please know you can riff on any of these, and make endless delicious meals using what you have and a little creativity!
STIR FRY/ CURRY/ SKILLET:
Wash and chop any vegetables you need to use into similar sizes. If you’re cooking protein from raw, start by cooking the protein until mostly cooked through, and remove. Add cooking fat and cook vegetables in batches to ensure each vegetable is cooked to your liking. Vegetables like space so be sure to avoid a crowded pan where they steam instead of sear and err on the side of par cooked since you’ll return them all to the pan to cook in some sort of sauce and whatever leftover protein, or already prepared protein you have to include.
Traditional Stir Fry Flavors: During cooking add in fresh, frozen or dried: ginger, garlic, onion and/or herbs, coconut aminos / tamari, fish sauce, rice vinegar, or any combination of these types of flavors and
ingredients using what you have on hand.
Curry: Once the protein is mostly cooked, and the vegetables are cooked and removed, add in some cooking oil, curry paste, and stir to awaken the flavors. Add in a can of coconut milk and whisk the mixture together until the cream, paste, and milk are all incorporated.
Skillet: Using leftover dressing, sauce, marinade (either homemade or not): Once you return the mostly cooked meat to the pan, add the sauce to let the meat finish cooking in the simmering sauce, and then add the vegetables to combine and reheat.
SNACK PLATTER/ BOARD
Don’t feel like cooking? Can’t string it all together? That’s OK! Cut what you have in the way of meats and cheeses. Add in some mustard, crackers/chips/toast, nuts, hummus, seeds, dried fruit – ANY or all of those categories would be awesome. Dip, spread, top and snack on finger food and enjoy light clean up!
The ultimate ‘use what you have’ meal if you have eggs on hand. Any combination of vegetables and protein will work. All vegetables and protein should be chopped into similarly sized pieces, and be cooked, tender and seasoned prior to adding the eggs. Whisk together 6-12 eggs until just combined, adding a couple of tablespoons of dairy or nondairy milk if you have. Using an oven safe skillet heated over medium low heat, add some cooking oil and swivel pan to coat the bottom/sides. Add the veggies/meats. Pour in the eggs. Gently distribute the vegetables in the pan. Let the frittata ‘crust’ form on the bottom for about 1-2 minutes – you’ll see the outer edges changing color. Transfer the pan to the oven, and let it bake at 400 for about 8-12 minutes. Remove before it is browned on top. Even if it is a little
runny in the middle, it will still continue to cook on the counter.
TACO / WRAP / ROLL UP
This format is so freeing because there are SO many options. Some ideas to get you started: collard greens, deli meat, lettuce, rice paper, seaweed…and I am sure I am forgetting some. You can add cooked or raw vegetables, any kind of protein, and lots of options on flavor enhancers or plated fats.
You should just use whatever protein and vegetables you have on hand that need using, but some ideas of fats: mayo, hummus, avocado, tahini, cheese, chimichurri, olives, or nut butter. Make your tortilla wrap extra by upgrading it to a stuffed quesadilla!
TOAST / SWEET POTATOAST / RUSSET POTATOAST
If you have bread in the house you’re just a few quick minutes away from having toast. If you have sweet potato or russet potato in the house you’re just a few minutes away from having potatoast! Basically, it’s just a delicious vessel for which to enjoy. If you’ve never made sweet potatoast before, it’s super easy! Slice sweet potato lengthwise into a ½” plank. Stick it in the toaster and toast until it’s cooked through, OR if you’re making multiple slices, place on a sheet pan in the oven brushed with a little oil and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, flipping once until cooked through – you can crank it up to broil for a minute to get a little ‘toasty’ color going too. Regardless of your toasts being bread, sweet potatoes or regular potatoes, top these delightful toasts with anything from peanut butter and jelly to avocado and fried eggs.
Let me flip the world over for ya…chili can be beanless, meatless, or veggie FULL. The choice is yours. My preference will always be meat, beans and vegetables. Use what you have and will in combination with canned tomato products, onions, spices and slow cook or stovetop simmer your fridge foraged creation!
Soups and Stews are so comforting, so versatile and so forgiving. You do NOT have to adhere to any rules, and you can make these things work for you and nourish you. Some ideas to get your started on something where you are only limited by your imagination: You can make chicken soup, meatball soup, burger soup, vegetable soup using ALL the things you have to use up + any frozen vegetables as well. You can leave it chunky or blend it smooth and creamy. You can use beef, chicken or vegetable broth
interchangeably regardless of what protein is in the soup – and you can ALWAYS supplement with water to stretch it while adding in dried herbs, garlic, dried mushrooms, and fish sauce to up the flavor.
Never underestimate what you can make from a potato. You can use russet, yukon gold, or any variety sweet potato to serve as a vessel to be stuffed with meat in many various forms. Grilled chicken and sautéed greens, scrambled eggs, chopped sausage peppers and onion, sloppy joe meat, shredded beef or chicken…endless possibilities.
Back on that potato game! But really, hash is something I make with any kind of starchy vegetable like winter squash or root vegetable! Ideas: rutabaga, parsnips, turnips, butternut squash, sweet potato, plantains. Basically, the formula here is 1 part starchy vegetable, 1 part leftover meat, 1 part green vegetable, and 1 part flavor enhancer you have on hand. Chop and cook each component, bring them together with some Italian seasoning, or seasoning blend of your choice. Add an egg, hot sauce, side
of sauerkraut, dollop of sour cream, salsa, avocado or anything else you have that you need to use up. Endless combinations, and big flavor possibility!