Cheap Eats — Pasta Salad

by Katy on August 26, 2008 · 11 comments



Leftovers. They sit in the refigerator and mock us. Taunting us each time we reach for something new.

“Why are you opening a new yogurt/bag of mini carrots/package of cottage cheese/ when you could be reheating me?”

General rule of thumb is to bring leftovers to work for lunch, or to toss them into a soup. But what should you do if your job is not conducive to a reheated leftovers lunch, or the weather is so god-awful hot that the idea of soup is enough to push you over the edge?

Pasta salad.

My family had eaten a big meal around 4:00 P.M. yesterday, (“lupper,” not to be confused with “leper.”) and I was hoping that I could get away with not having to make dinner. Alas, hunger snuck its way into my growing children around 9:00 P.M., with wails of:

“I’m hungry mom, and you never buy anything good. All you ever buy is canned beans and tomatoes!”

(Not true. I also buy. . . um. . . oh, never mind!)

So off I trotted to the Non-Consumer fridge to see what magic could be conjured from its pathetic contents. (We are eight days into a “buy no food challenge” and the pickings are slim.) I am a stubborn, stubborn woman and refuse to admit defeat.

I find:

  • A half can amount of garbonzo beans.
  • An eighth of an avocado.
  • A tiny smidgen of smoked salmon and gourmet cheese leftover from Kathy’s play.
  • Some feta cheese.
  • A half box of orzo.
  • Tea towel salad dressing.
  • All this, plus a quick rain-soaked dash to the cherry tomatoes out in the front yard equals:

Pasta salad!

Within ten minutes, a mini-meal was assembled. And not to brag too much, but it was nothing but delish. The heat of the orzo gave it a creamy texture, and the small amount of smoked salmon infused its flavor throughout the entire dish. It was gobbled down with unabashed fervor.

You may be asking, “And what exactly is the point of this story?”

The point, my little Non-Consumers, is:

It’s a valuable life skill to figure out how to cook with miscellaneous ingredients. Not only will you waste less food, but you’ll save money and time (fewer last-minute trips to the grocery store).

You will not find the same ingredients in your fridge, but this is not so much a recipe as it is a mindset.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

BohoBelle August 26, 2008 at 12:09 am

You are a magician!


Mrs Green August 26, 2008 at 1:05 am

haha! I love this. One of my erm, favourite things to do, do I sound sad? Is to create a meal from ‘nothing’. It wows my husband every time LOL!

Sounds like a gorgeous meal. I was reading through your list of ingredients thinking ‘yeah yeah, I can see a few great meals in there’

Fabulous and so inspiring – thank you for another fab post.


voncook August 26, 2008 at 1:06 am

Very informative to people.
You should also include the ‘mix-your-leftovers’ perk in a few more recipes.

Kudos to your efforts!


Kristen August 26, 2008 at 8:57 am

Admittedly, I’m not very good at this. But, I’ve become better and better as I’ve been working on reducing my food waste. It’s amazing what possibilities open up if you try.


clotilde August 27, 2008 at 10:15 am

I’m intrigued — what chain of events leaves one with just one eighth of an avocado? 🙂


thenonconsumeradvocate August 28, 2008 at 8:11 am


I could tell you have one-eighth of an avocado was enjoying time in my fridge, but then I’d have to kill you.

And I like you too much to assign you such a dire fate.



Tracey Smith August 29, 2008 at 2:24 pm

One of my favourite cook-ups involves taking the leftovers from dinner and turning them into something culinarily amazing for the next day….you don’t need to be a genius, just savvy on the spending and creative with it.

Tracey Smith
Author of ‘The Book of Rubbish Ideas’


Tracey Smith August 31, 2008 at 3:53 am

…have just made our bread for today, I sliced the dough straight down the centre once I’d popped it in the loaf tin and stuffed it with a few cubes of cheese left over from tea the night before, then pinched the crease closed and turned the dough over so the crease is on the bottom…(this bread is great fresh on the day, but also delicious toasted the next day as all the cheese goes runny…)…

Wonderful stuff, ‘exotic’ bread almost and at a fraction of the cost.

Also great when stuffed with caramelised onions…

Get bakin’ and save your cash!


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