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Fridge Clean Out Recipes: Transforming Forgotten Ingredients into Culinary Delights

In every home, the refrigerator can become a treasure trove of culinary potential or a graveyard of forgotten ingredients. We've all been there: staring at the odd collection of leftovers, half-used veggies, and random condiments wondering what to do with them. Before you toss those perfectly good ingredients, consider this: with a little creativity, you can turn those odds and ends into delicious meals. Here’s how to take baby steps toward a cleaner fridge and a fuller table.

Step One: Embrace the Odds and Ends

Start by gathering all those miscellaneous items from the crisper drawer, the dairy section, and every hidden corner. That lone link of chorizo? Dice it up and throw it into a hearty soup. Got a bunch of kale wilting away? Sauté it and mix it with some pasta for a quick and nutritious meal. The possibilities are endless, and we're here to guide you through recipes that can accommodate whatever you find.

Versatile Recipes for Fridge Clean Outs

Fried rice is a champion of versatility. Begin with cooked rice—preferably a day old for better texture. Then, go wild with the add-ins:

  • Vegetables: Bell peppers, carrots, peas, green beans, or even that half a zucchini.

  • Proteins: Scrambled eggs, leftover chicken, or that link of chorizo.

  • Extras: A splash of soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil, and a sprinkle of green onions or cilantro.

Heat some oil in a pan, sauté your vegetables and proteins, then toss in the rice and sauces. Within minutes, you have a satisfying meal that clears out a good portion of your fridge.

fried rice

Soups are another excellent way to use up a variety of ingredients. Start with a basic broth—chicken, beef, or vegetable. From there, add:

  • Vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, celery, kale, spinach, or anything else on the verge of expiring.

  • Proteins: Shredded leftover meat, beans, or that nearly forgotten link of sausage.

  • Seasonings: Garlic, onions, herbs, and spices to taste.

Let everything simmer together until the flavors meld into a comforting bowl of goodness. Soup is forgiving and flexible, making it a perfect clean-out-the-fridge recipe.


Stir-fries are a lifesaver when you need to use up various small amounts of ingredients quickly. Start with:

  • Base: Noodles or rice.

  • Vegetables: Snap peas, bell peppers, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, or even cabbage.

  • Proteins: Tofu, shrimp, beef strips, or that last bit of rotisserie chicken.

  • Sauce: Soy sauce, hoisin, a bit of honey, and some cornstarch for thickening.

Cook your proteins first, then set them aside. Stir-fry your veggies, add the sauce, then mix everything together. Serve over rice or noodles, and enjoy a meal that cleans out your fridge.

stir fry

Egg-based dishes like frittatas and omelets are fantastic for using up small quantities of various ingredients. Whisk together some eggs and add:

  • Vegetables: Spinach, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, or even leftover roasted veggies.

  • Cheese: Any kind, from cheddar to goat cheese.

  • Proteins: Bacon bits, ham, sausage, or even last night’s grilled salmon.

Cook until the eggs are set, and you have a delicious, protein-packed meal that can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


One of the brilliant aspects of this recipe is that it calls for "cold leftover mashed potatoes." It also cleverly incorporates that surplus kale sitting in your fridge and those scallions you've been nurturing in a cup of water on your windowsill.

scallion pancake

Sweet potatoes, bell peppers, prosciutto, and leftover salsa - Everything you need for a perfect breakfast skillet! This dish is topped with eggs and baked in the oven, making it a deliciously easy, hands-off option.

sweet potato breakfast skillet


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