Category Archives: using up old food



Cost:  under 50 cents (for a teabag and sugar) plus some almost-expired yogurt
Success: 5/5

My Mom visited last weekend, and I had some Greek Yogurt in the fridge for her. She wasn’t able to eat it all before she left, and I forgot about it until the day it was set to expire.

I thought I might make a curry with it, but there was just so much left. Then I had a brainwave – I’d make frozen yogurt! That would also take care of the strawberries we got while she was here.

I jumped a little when I saw how mouldy the strawberries were. Blech. So I threw those out and searched around my place for something else fruitlike or fruit-esque. There were some oranges and an apple, but I figured there was good reason I had never heard of apple or orange yogurt. I spent some time weighing the pros and cons of using a fruit-flavoured tea bag, then decided to go wild and give it a try.

I brewed a small amount of tea, about equal to the amount of yogurt that was left. I added maybe 1/3 as much sugar as yogurt. I’m not really one to measure things when I’m cooking. Sometimes my free-spirited cooking philosophy leads to exciting new culinary flavours, and sometimes it just doesn’t.

This recipe was loosely based on a frozen yogurt popsicle recipe I made last year.

I mixed everything together in the chopper attachment for my kitchen wand. I LOVE that kitchen wand. (Sponsor me Cuisinart?) I stuck it in a Saskatchewan tupperware and into the freezer.

Some hours later, I sampled some. It was awesome! The tea flavour was mild but very nice, and it had a flavour and texture not to wildly different from store-bought frozen yogurt. In the photo above it looks pretty runny, but it was not all frozen at that point.




Cost: Free (with old bread and crackers)
Success: 4/5

During my housewarming party, I was in such a rush to get the food out that I shoved the crackers back into their boxes without closing the bags properly. A week later I realized this, and now the crackers are stale.

But that’s fine, because they were in the perfect condition for making bread crumbs!

I put some bread and several crackers in a pie tray, mostly because my baking trays were in use. I took the bread out once in a while and squished it flat with a cleaver. If there is any moisture left in the bread, it squishes flat without making many crumbs.

It’s a delicate balance, because the bread will also burn if it’s in there too long. Baking it takes away most of the stale taste.

The crumbs made from bread turned out quite well, and I used most of them in my chicken parmesan.

The crackers were not quite as successful. I had them in for about 10 minutes at 425 degrees, and some of them burnt and got that funny smell. I broke off the dark parts, and squished them anyway. They’re sitting in a Saskatchewan Tupperware container in my cupboard.

Full of promise:

Ah, crap. They’re burnt already:

Ambitious chicken parmesan


Cost: About $3, but most ingredients were left over from housewarming party
Success: 4/5

A week after my housewarming party, my fridge is still full of food. There are vegetables that I didn’t use in the vegetable platter, old bread, stale crackers, slices of cheese and sausage, and some other stuff. I was excited to find leftover coffee cream this morning. The vegetables are all still looking pretty healthy, but the bread and crackers are getting staler by the day.

Usually I either fry a bunch of vegetables together with a bit of onion and butter, or roast them and grind them into a soup. I wanted to be a little more creative today, so I made chicken parmesan.

I remembered a bit of wisdom from my Mom, that old bread is ideal for croutons and breadcrumbs. I took out four slices and put them into a baking pan. I took two half-peppers and put a bit of oil on them, and roasted them with some tiny tomatoes.

While they were roasting, I took a chicken breast out of the freezer. I had it defrosted in the fridge during the housewarming, but I didn’t use it so I stuck it back in the freezer. I was a little leery about the food safety of a twice-defrosted chicken breast, but it’s been four hours and I haven’t dropped yet.

Later I put an onion on the baking sheet to soften it up a bit.

I mixed the roasted vegetables into a puree. I added salt and pepper, and basil, cilantro, oregano, lavender and rosemary from my herb pots around the house and garden.

(I love my Cuisinart wand mixing thingie!!!)

I took the bread out periodically and squished it with a big flat knife. There is probably a better way to do it.  I cut the chicken breast into smaller pieces, and coated them in egg and bread crumbs. Baking would have given me more predictable results, but after over an hour of chopping and crushing and blending I was going to go for full flavour, so I fried the chick’n in oil. Mmm.

Once the chicken was done, I sprinkled parmesan over it generously, and spooned some of my pepper and tomato sauce on top.

I had been waiting about an hour from the guys from the Brick to deliver my loveseat, and I was sure they would come as soon as I started frying the chicken. They still hadn’t come by the time I sat down to eat, and I thought for sure they would show up right as I was lifting an oily morsel into my mouth. They didn’t, and I got to enjoy my meal uninterrupted.

The sauce was off.. the tomatoes were quite bitter. The chicken was delicious though!

Party platter stir-fry


Cost: $1.50 for the chicken breast
Success: 3/5

I’ve been bad… lazy and not proactive.  Since cleaning the house and hosting two housewarming parties, I’ve been mostly laying around, sleeping, eating chocolate and watching tv.

After my housewarming parties (one on Saturday and a smaller one on Sunday for people from my church), I was left with some limp vegetables and hard-edged cheese. I was considering boiling and blending it all into a soup, but I decided the vegetables were intact enough to stir-fry with one of the chicken breasts I had defrosted for the party.

In theory this sounds like a great idea, because I eat a lot of fried vegetables anyway. In practice, it was a weird combination, and the cheese I smothered it with could not hide its sins. Next time I may just turn it into soup, or sauce the heck out of it.

I have more money-savin’ stuff to write about from my housewarming*, but now I’m going to lay around… and watch some TV. Maybe with chocolate.

*SPOILER: Housewarming parties are not cheap!

The surprising success of salad soup


Cost:  Under $1
Success:  5/5

I’ve found it takes a mix of proactivity, creativity and desperation to use up all the food in my fridge before it goes bad. To get some help with the last one, I decided not to buy groceries this week.

I wasn’t sure what to do with my big bag of aging, discoloured and slightly slimy mixed salad (iceberg lettuce, red cabbage and carrots) so I asked my friend Jolene if she had any good ideas. She suggested making a cabbage soup. I have such clever friends.

This is how I made my loose adaptation of the recipe; I boiled some green tea, added lots of mixed salad, a tomato, half an onion, beef stock and ground pepper. I boiled it for about 10 minutes.

This soup had a lot working against it. I didn’t have all of the ingredients from the recipe, and putting lettuce into a soup just seemed weird. My mixed salad was looking pretty sad too.

I was expecting something barely edible, but it was actually really good! It reminded me of some of the soups and stews my Grandma used to make. It had a slightly Eastern European flavour, and while I was eating it I felt like it must be good for me on some level.