Pre-vacation tips for cleaning out the fridge & Ground Beef & Veggie Hash Recipe
After completing what felt like 100 but was probably only 12 hours of scuba training (online), doing my best to eat everything in the kitchen and doing even better at procrastinating on packing, the time is almost here. Tomorrow we leave for a little vacay to Cozumel, which we have deemed our spring-break-for-grown-ups (since we don’t get those back until we have kids). My husband and I will be first-time scuba divers alongside a couple of couples that are old hands at the whole breathing-under-water gig, including a Master Diver.
I’m a bit anxious about the whole ordeal, but I’m sure doing our checkout dives — and doing them in sunny Cozumel instead of brr-cold Maryland, thanks to PADI’s online program — will make me feel better.
Any weeklong vacation necessitates some thinking about how to de-stock the fridge before you hit the road. A couple weeks ago, I decided I’d plan meals around those back-of-the-cupboard items I needed to breeze through soon. And the past couple of days have been a lesson in creative, clean-out-the-fridge eating. I’ll include a recipe for a Ground Beef Hash below that’s good for using up your veggies and eggs, not to mention Paleo-friendly.
I’ve been nursing my last cartons of chicken and quail eggs this week, trying to time their use so we’ll have some hard-boileds for the plane ride. The quail eggs — those irresistibly cute little boogers that I can’t stop instagramming — were polished off this morning. Which leads me to tip No. 1:
- Mix stuff together.
I know, it’s profound. But I was too lazy to fire up a pot to use the last of my coconut shavings for a porridge this morning. So, in attempts to use other fridge items. I added the shavings to a bowl of applesauce, mushed in my last banana, added chia seeds, sliced almonds and heated the concoction into a quite-good fruity porridge.
I applied this concept and No. 3 at lunch as well, mixing together leftover veggies from two different meals, heating them and adding a couple eggs. My Asian-inspired cooked cabbage actually went quite well with black beans and other leftovers from taco salads, and the egg yolk (and an avocado) tied it all together.
- Put stuff on toast.
Have a handful of spreadable items that are nearing expiration? Spread them on those few pieces of toast that are shoved to the back of your fridge, not quite stale but in need of some toasting. My preferred toast to have on hand (if any) is the rye bread from Trader Joe’s. It’s super thin, low on carbs, wheat-free and nutty. This morning I spread the last of my ricotta cheese on it, then half of an avocado that was beyond ripe (his brothers will be made into guacamole). Then I…
- Put an egg on it.
I have put an egg on just about everything I’ve eaten for the past three days. Nothing makes a meal out of toast and leftovers like plopping an over-easy fried egg on top. I learned this bit of wisdom from one of Washington Post Food Editor Joe Yonan’s columns. And I was happy to see that, despite his recent coming-out as a vegetarian, he will still be eating and creating recipes with eggs (phew!). Pizza, pasta, salads, toast, you can really put an egg on anything. Try it!
- Make veggie-centric meals to clean out your crisper.
We buy most of our meat in bulk, like a bunch of lamb at once or, this week, in the form of a local meat variety pack from Relay Foods. So, with the bulk of our meat in the freezer, using up veggies is the main concern. If you’re like me, there are certain veggies you buy every time you’re at the store, just in case, with almost no regard to your list or meal planning. I have too often been out of onions, garlic and celery, so I tend to overcompensate by over buying them now. The good news is there are tons of recipes that use a gob of vegetables in one dish. Stir frys are a go-to for that, as are massive salads and soups. But my new favorite is the below hash recipe, which is great for using up those wintry vegetables as the weather slowly gives way to spring.
Hash is one of those malleable meals that is good for any time of day and can be made out of almost anything — or even cooked in tinfoil at a campsite. It’s perfect for those ravenous, post-workout moments, whenever they may occur, and it’s made fresh by — you guessed it — adding a fried egg.
Ground Beef & Veggie Hash
- Whole onion, diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- Two big sweet potatoes, cut in cubes, skin on
- Two turnips or parsnips, cut in cubes, skin on (or another root vegetable)
- 1 lb ground beef, grassfed organic if you can swing it (The way I stretch the more expensive meats is to do 1 lb of meat to two pounds of veggies.)
- Greens for cooking, like kale, collards, chard or a mix. Two handfuls.
- Fresh parsley and fresh or dried thyme, about a tablespoon of each
- Salt and pepper
- Eggs to fry, runny yolks best (quail eggs, even better)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the potatoes and parsnips on one or two cookie sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and most of the thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, until browned and tender.
Heat a little oil in a big skillet (I’m into coconut oil these days, but olive oil is great). Cook the onions and garlic until translucent. Remove to a bowl.
Add beef to pan and cook, separating the chunks with a spoon to make crumbles.
Once cooked, add the onions, cooked potatoes and parsnips back to the skillet. Add the greens and toss to wilt. Add more spices to taste. Heat everything or leave the lid on while you wait for your spouse to get home. 🙂
When you’re ready to eat, dish out a pile of the goodies and fry an egg or two to put on top of each in a shallow bowl. Salt and pepper those eggs.
Enjoy! And feel free to share some of your fridge-emptying recipes — or spring break vacations! I’ll check back in after sunny (but hopefully not sun-burning) Cozumel.