8 Recipes That'll Clean Out the Fridge


"Mom, there's nothing to eat!"

Ah, the cry of the hungry child. But there is plenty of food in the fridge, even if it looks like a collection of mismatched ingredients. Maybe instead of hitting the grocery store, you need to get into frugal mode and whip up something delicious and easy with those leftovers. Handy items to have around that can bring any assortment of ingredients together are whole-wheat tortillas, spring roll (rice paper) wrappers, biscuits, panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), and eggs. Here are eight easy meals that'll clean out the fridge. (See also: 10 Cheap and Easy Meals That Make Even Better Leftovers)

1. Fried rice patties

Got fried rice? Make crispy fritters. Stir an egg or two (start with one, and see if that is enough to bind the rice). Add some chopped onion, a tablespoon or two of panko breadcrumbs, and a little garlic. Heat up some oil, add the patties, and fry on each side until crispy. This will be delicious with a fried egg on top or some peanut sauce.

2. Fried chicken salad

Lucky you, if you have fried chicken leftovers. Dice the chicken up, toss it onto a bed of lettuce with tomatoes and cucumbers, and pour over some buttermilk salad dressing. It's such a good salad, you may find that you prefer the leftovers to the original dinner. (See also: 9 Ways to Use Up Leftover Buttermilk)

3. Roasted veggies and quinoa

Toss together your remaining quinoa with any other veggies in your fridge — leftover roasted vegetables are great, or sauteed mushrooms — and toss with a lemony vinaigrette. Top with some nuts and you will have a delicious power bowl ready to take to work.

4. Cheesy baked potatoes

Leftover baked potatoes are so versatile that I just bake extras on purpose. Slice cold potatoes in half and scoop out the center. Mix the potato with any leftover vegetables. If you have any frozen broccoli or spinach, use them up! Add some cheese and heat in the microwave. (See also: 11 Meals That Make Terrific Leftovers)

5. Rotisserie chicken lettuce wraps

Costco has wonderfully low-priced rotisserie chickens, and at $5 a chicken, these are pretty much a constant in our refrigerator. Use any chicken you have left over in these delicious lettuce wraps.

7. Stuffed biscuits

Refrigerated biscuits are so versatile that I keep a can of the Pillsbury rolls around at all times. You can put pretty much anything in a flattened biscuit, fold it in half, and bake. I especially like leftover sausages, tomato sauce, peppers, and mozzarella.

8. Tamale pie

Bet you have some Jiffy cornbread mix in your pantry. It's all of 59 cents, so you should. Put your leftover chili into a casserole dish. Prepare cornbread as directed and spread over the top. Add some grated cheddar cheese. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes and you have a sort-of tamale pie.

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