The holidays, particularly Thanksgiving, are often a time of gluttony and overindulgence. This Monday, give your belly a break following last Thursday’s gorge. Take the next week off from grocery shopping to challenge your household to eat from ingredients already in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Instead of feeling pressure to finish your Thanksgiving leftovers before your next shopping trip, freeze some, portion the rest and cook innovative meals that don’t require a trip to the store. Some call this an exercise in frugality and culinary creativity. We call it the Eating Down the Fridge Challenge.
In February of 2009, True/Slant blogger and Meatless Monday advocate Kim O’Donnel read that eGullet.com was challenging its readers to go a week without shopping. eGullet’s Stephen Shaw estimated that anyone participating in the challenge once every quarter could save 8-10% on yearly grocery bills. This reminded O’Donnel’s editor that her own father’s Great Depression upbringing motivated him to freeze anything edible and then regularly rifle through the freezer to eat all the mysterious leftovers he had been hoarding away. And with that, the Eating Down the Fridge challenge was born.
With the economic recession in full swing, O’Donnel’s readers jumped at the chance to mobilize for such a conservation effort. Over 100 households in the US, Canada, Australia, Denmark and South Africa volunteered to participate in the initial challenge. Kim selected households to write guest blog spots about their own adventures in reinventing meals with the ingredients they had on hand. Most participants reported back positively that their experiences expanded their meal creativity and left them with heavier wallets.
But one thing we don’t need expanded this holiday season is our waistlines, so ration out your leftovers and challenge yourself to go without shopping the week after the festivities. Freezing part of your holiday leftovers takes the pressure off to finish fast and keeps nutrients intact far better than leaving them in the fridge. This week’s recipes consist of everyday ingredients from your post-Thanksgiving pantry, so let the Eating Down the Fridge Challenge push you beyond the traditional leftover meals. Most importantly the challenge encourages anyone participating to be more mindful of portion control, so engage the whole family in this Eating Down the Fridge adventure and be thankful for all the things you already have.