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For The Week: Introduce Fridge Foraging to your life

Feel overwhelmed after work? Get your week's meal prep started at the weekend.
Lindsay Guentzel

Happy Valentine’s Day! How’s that sugar coma treating you? When you finally come out of it, let’s talk about fridge foraging.

If you’re new to For The Week, this is my weekly column that comes out every Sunday and focuses on all things food for the seven days ahead. As a meal prep expert and a #crockpotinfluencer, my goal is to always give you tips, tricks and ideas that can actually work with your lifestyle. 

We aren’t going for perfect; we’re going for better. And what’s great about the advice is that each week builds upon the week before, so you are constantly learning and growing. 

Remember, my meal prep and your meal prep are going to look different. I’ve been practicing this every week for years. And I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t. To make this as seamless as possible, you need to invest some time figuring out what your own perfect equation is and I’m here to offer suggestions on how to get there.

If you would like to go back and read previous editions of For The Week or check out my other recipes, visit my author page.

Fridge Foraging

First, it’s important to define the concept of fridge foraging. Let me set the scene for you..

Imagine this. You open your fridge, see what you have on hand and make dinner with it. Mind blowing, right? This was the practice for so many generations before us and we’ve somehow lost our way. You’ve got veggies that are about to go bad? Use them. You’ve got leftovers that need to be eaten? Use them. 

Not only will this cut down on food waste but embracing fridge foraging will also help you become more creative in the kitchen. Recipes are great. But concepts are just as beneficial when it comes to developing meals.

My grandmother Marcella always comes to mind when I think about the concept of fridge foraging. She raised nine children on a farm in southwestern Minnesota. And I’m certain she wasn’t flipping through a cookbook every night, trying to find the most eye-catching recipe. And I know she wasn’t asking anyone what they were in the mood for that night. No, she was just trying to put a meal on the table.

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I think we struggle with accepting that every meal doesn’t have to be the most delicious, over-the-top experience. Meals are meant to fuel us, to keep our bodies healthy and give us energy. Yes, it’s also great to enjoy them. But I personally think we put too much emphasis on being excited about a meal. Some days? Meals are going to be just that -- meals. Simple, healthy food to help get you through the day.

If you aren’t a confident cook, you might overwhelmed by the idea of not relying on recipes. I totally get that. One thing that will help you get out of that rut is finding simple things you love – for me, it’s roasted veggies – and then work at getting really good at making them. That way, when you put together a meal, you know you’ll like one of the items you’ve selected.

Let me show you how I might make it work with what’s in my fridge right now.

Right now, there’s a lot of produce to use.

  • Chopped cauliflower (meal prep)
  • Sliced peppers (meal prep)
  • Half of a red onion
  • Diced fresh jalapeno (leftovers)
  • Fresh broccoli (whole)
  • Shredded pork (leftovers)

The ideas below are meals we eat and are things that can easily be modified for personal preferences. I’m a huge fan of setting up everything on our island with all of the topping options so we can each build our meal exactly how we want it. Let me be clear, that doesn’t change how I cook the meal. I just pull out everything we have in the fridge that might work well with it.

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Fridge Foraging Meal Ideas

  • Rice & Veggie Bowl with Pork (Spiced up with your favorite sauce)
  • Pork & Veggie Pasta Dish (Topped with a jar of pasta sauce & cheese)
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Roasted Veggies (Add BBQ sauce, honey mustard, or buffalo sauce)
  • Spicy Pork and Veggie Wraps (Hummus and ranch dressing make great sauces)
  • Spicy Pork and Veggie Quesadillas (Cheese, salsa and sour cream go a long way in dressing this up)
  • Pork and Veggie Plated (The most simple option: Roast or sauté the veggies, heat up the pork, add some seasonings and sauces, plate and enjoy)

A lot of people are really great at setting up a meal plan at the start of the week, meaning they know what they are making every night of the week. A great way to add Fridge Foraging into this routine is to set up one night where you eat leftovers. That night, you build your creativity in the kitchen by challenging yourself to eat what you have in the fridge that needs to be used.

Fridge Foraging is not meant to add more stress to your life. It’s meant to teach you how to simplify things and use what you’ve already purchased. And it can be added into your routine in small, simple ways as long as you make the effort to actually practice it. Remember, you won’t be perfect at it right away. Just like everything life, Fridge Foraging – and meal prep – are things you learn and get better at over time.

Like Lindsay’s work? Follow her recipes, blogs and videos here on Bring Me The News or on her website https://lindsayguentzel.com/. Or follow her on social media @LindsayGuentzel on Twitter and Facebook.

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