10 completely different fridge clearing ideas - tasty ways to make a meal from all the last bits in the fridge! Including how-tos and recipe suggestions.
I love looking in my fridge after I've just done a big grocery shop - when it's bursting at the seams with fresh veg, various types of cheese, quiches, fresh pasta, yogurt... so many possibilities, so many delicious meals ahead of me.
But there's also something truly satisfying about peering into the fridge when it's nearly empty, just before I restock. It sometimes takes a bit of creative thinking to figure out how to transform those last few scraps of veg into something tasty, but it's totally doable!
Easy ways to clear your fridge
Here are 10 vegetarian fridge clearing ideas - easy ways to use up all those last bits and bobs that might otherwise be wasted. For each item on the list, I've suggested a few recipes to try, but the entire point of these ideas is that you can just use whatever you have lingering in the fridge, so don't feel you need to make the recipes as written! They can all be adapted to use up what you have.
Even the limpest vegetables can be revived in a good curry! With plenty of rich curry flavour, you won't notice if the vegetables aren't at their best. If you have vegetables that can be cooked in a frying pan, that's ideal for curry. Alternatively, you can just chuck everything in a slow cooker (which is handy if you've got harder vegetables like carrots!).
How to make a curry
- First, chop all your vegetables and fry them off in a large pan or wok.
- Add a good dollop of curry paste, or some ground spices (curry powder, turmeric, cumin, garam masala, etc.).
- Make it saucy with some chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned), or a tin of coconut milk, or both! Simmer until it's cooked to your liking.
Curry is great for using up:
- any fresh vegetables that can be cooked in a wok
- fresh spinach or other leafy greens (add them towards the end of the cooking time to just wilt)
- the end of a jar of curry paste
- half-used tins of beans (even baked beans!) or chickpeas
- fresh coriander (cilantro) or parsley
Some curry recipes to try
We make frittata often, as it's a great way to use up any odds and ends from the fridge! As long as you've got a few eggs, you can make a frittata. Ideally you'd use vegetables that can be sautéed quickly in a pan, but if you need to pre-boil or pre-roast any veg, that works too!
How to make a frittata
- Chop whatever vegetables you have lingering in the fridge, and cook them in a deep frying pan.
- Whisk up some eggs and a splash of milk, and pour the mixture over the top.
- To cook the egg mixture, I usually alternate between cooking it on the stovetop and under the grill (broiler), so it cooks from both sides towards the middle. You can just stick it in the oven if you prefer!
Frittata is great for using up:
- vegetables that can be cooked in a frying pan, e.g. mushrooms, peppers, onions
- leftover tinned veg, like sweetcorn or peas
- any types of hard cheese - just grate it and mix it through the egg mixture
- softer cheese like ricotta or brie, which can be dolloped on top
- fresh herbs (chop finely and mix through the egg)
Some frittata recipes to try
A pie or tart
If you want to clear your fridge by making a pie or tart, you obviously need to have some pastry in the house - but if you think ahead and keep some in the freezer, you'll always be ready to make a great tart! Puff pastry is my favourite pastry for making a really quick and easy tart, but shortcrust pastry can be great too.
How to make an easy tart
- Roll out some puff pastry, or line a pie dish with shortcrust pastry.
- Spread some kind of sauce or soft cheese on the pastry (see below for ideas!).
- Top with vegetables and grated cheese, then bake until the pastry is fully cooked.
A tart is great for using up:
- scraps of pastry (just make a few smaller tarts if you have weirdly shaped pieces!)
- leftover pesto, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, or anything else that can be spread over the pastry
- soft vegetables that don't need a huge amount of cooking, e.g. tomatoes, mushrooms
- half-used jars of antipasti, e.g. marinated artichokes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
- any types of cheese
Some pie / tart recipes to try
I make soup allll the time - at least a couple of times a week. It's such a great way to use up fresh veg, even stuff that's a bit wilted or soft. As long as it's not actually moudly, into the soup it goes! There are practically no limits to the types of veg you can throw in a soup - anything goes.
How to make soup
- Sauté your vegetables. This is less important for hard vegetables like potatoes or carrots, but if you're using onions, mushrooms, etc., your soup will taste better if you sauté the veg first.
- Add plenty of vegetable stock. I also like to throw in a handful of red lentils at this stage, to make a thicker, heartier, more filling soup. You can also add dried herbs and spices, and any other flavourings you want.
- Boil the soup until all the vegetables are soft.
- Unless you want a chunky soup, blend it thoroughly. You can stir a little grated cheese through the soup before serving, if you like.
Soup is great for using up:
- pretty much any vegetables, especially if they're too limp or soft to use in another way (and it doesn't even really matter if it's a combination that you wouldn't usually put together!)
- limp lettuce and any other wilted greens
- fresh herbs (stir them through the soup before serving)
- the end of a jar of curry paste, pesto, etc.
- half-used tins of tomatoes, coconut milk, etc.
- any last bits of dairy e.g. cream
Some soup recipes to try
A vegetable bake / casserole
A veggie bake is one of my favourite ways to clear out the fridge. You can use all sorts of vegetables, even hard ones, as it's all going to bake in the oven. Topped with some melty cheese, you can't go wrong with a hot, bubbling vegetarian casserole.
How to make a vegetable bake
- Cut all your vegetables into bitesized pieces, and spread them out in a baking dish. Depending on what vegetables you're using, you may need to roast harder vegetables (e.g. carrots, potatoes) for a while first, then add the softer veg (e.g. mushrooms, peppers).
- Add some kind of sauce - tinned tomatoes, a dollop of cream cheese, etc. I also like to add some tinned chickpeas or beans for protein.
- Top with grated cheese or breadcrumbs, and return the dish to the oven until the veg are all cooked, and the topping is crispy.
A vegetable bake is great for using up:
- any vegetables (it's best if it's a combination that works well together, e.g. root vegetables, Mediterranean vegetables, etc.)
- tins of tomatoes, the last dollop of cream cheese, pesto, etc.
- half-used tins of chickpeas or beans
- any type of cheese
- stale bread (blitz it into breadcrumbs, or tear it into chunks for a crouton-style topping)
Some vegetable bake / casserole recipes to try
Halloumi casserole with crispy garlic breadcrumbs
Roasted vegetable ratatouille with chickpeas
Roasted vegetable enchilada casserole
Creamy chickpea bake
Creamy vegetable bake
Mexican bean and potato bake
Vegetable crumble with cheesy pesto topping
Quesadillas are one of our favourite lunch options - we make them probably twice a week. My kids love eating them, and I love using them to clear out any bits and bobs from the fridge!
How to make a quesadilla
- Place a flour tortilla in a dry frying pan.
- Top with vegetables, or any other fillings you fancy (you'll need to either use pre-cooked veg, or things that don't require thorough cooking - see below for some ideas!).
- Sprinkle over plenty of grated cheese, and place another tortilla on top.
- Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until the underside is golden brown and crispy, then carefully flip the quesadilla over, and repeat with the other side.
- Cut into slices to serve, like a pizza.
Quesadillas are great for using up:
- leftover vegetables from the previous day, e.g. roasted veggies
- soft vegetables that don't require any cooking, like tomatoes
- half-used tins of vegetables, e.g. sweetcorn or peas
- half-used tins of beans (baked beans and black beans are my favourites!)
- most types of cheese, e.g. cheddar, brie, feta
- the last few antipasti from the jar (like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.)
Some quesadilla recipes to try
Ahhh, pasta. I'm amazed I got this far through the post before mentioning my beloved pasta! You can chuck pretty much anything into a pasta dish, and it's going to be great. Of course you can sauté your veg separately, but I tend to just choose vegetables that can be boiled along with the pasta, since that makes it even easier.
How to make a pasta dish
- Add all your ingredients to a large saucepan - the pasta, and any vegetables you're using up. I also often add a handful of red lentils, for extra protein.
- Boil everything together for 10-15 minutes, until the pasta and veg are cooked.
- Drain the water, and add some kind of sauce, along with any additional ingredients (see below for ideas). Cook for a few more minutes until everything is hot.
Pasta is great for using up:
- vegetables that can be boiled in the time it takes the pasta to cook, e.g. peas, asparagus, peppers, green beans
- vegetables that don't need much cooking, e.g. fresh tomatoes, spinach (add along with the sauce)
- half-used bottles of tomato sauce, or jars of pesto
- antipasti like sun-dried tomatoes or olives
- the last bit of any dairy products, e.g. ricotta, cream cheese
- any types of cheese
- half-used tins of beans or chickpeas (even baked beans!)
Some pasta recipes to try
When in doubt, just chuck all your veg in a wok, and stir fry. Most vegetables will work well in a stir fry - I'd just avoid anything super hard like potatoes, unless you're willing to pre-cook them separately.
How to make a stir fry
- Cut all vegetables into bitesized pieces or sticks. Add them to a large wok with a dash of oil. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until just cooked. You can also add tofu, veggie chicken etc. if you like.
- Add some kind of sauce - I like a combination of soy sauce and honey to make a simple teriyaki stir fry.
- If you like, serve with rice or noodles.
Stir fry is great for using up:
- any sauté-able vegetables, e.g. peppers, mushrooms, beansprouts, asparagus, etc.
- slightly limp leafy greens, like cabbage, kale, etc.
- leftover rice, noodles, or any other grains
- the last one or two eggs from the box (cook them in the middle of the stir fry, then add leftover rice to make egg fried rice!)
Some stir fry recipes to try
I mean 'stew' as a bit of an all-encompassing term really, as it can mean anything from a traditional stew and dumplings, all the way up to a spicy chilli, and anything in between. For a good stew, it's best if you use vegetables that can be cooked low and slow without turning mushy (see below for ideas!). You can cook most stews in a slow cooker, if you prefer!
How to make a veggie stew
- In a large pot, sauté any vegetables that are best pre-cooked, e.g. onions, mushrooms, etc.
- Add hard vegetables like carrots or potatoes, along with plenty of liquid (vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes, gravy, etc.). You can also add beans, grains, etc. to make your stew more filling, or 'fake meat', like sausages.
- Bring to a simmer, and allow it to bubble away until cooked to your liking.
Stew is great for using up:
- hard root vegetables that have seen better days (potato, carrot, parsnip, sweet potato, etc.)
- any other vegetables that won't hurt from being simmered for a long time (mushrooms, peppers, onions - not green veg!)
- half-used tins of chickpeas, beans, etc.
- tinned vegetables like sweetcorn
- the last bit from the bottom of packets of various grains - couscous, barley, quinoa, rice, etc.
- the last cup of wine in the bottle
Some stew recipes to try:
Mushroom bourguignon [vegan]
Easy mushroom and black bean chilli [vegan]
Vegetarian Irish stew [vegan]
Vegetarian 'beef' stew with easy suet dumplings [vegan]
Creamy three bean stew
Caribbean-style sweet potato stew [vegan]
20 minute vegetable stroganoff
I looove a good fritter! A nice cheesy batter with crispy edges, and plenty of tasty bits inside. Fritters are a great way to make a meal if you only have a small amount of leftover veg, as you don't need much!
How to make fritters
- Mix up a simple batter using eggs and flour. I like to add a bit of grated cheese too.
- Stir in whatever additional flavours you'd like for your fritter - vegetables, beans, cubes of cheese, etc.
- Dollop the fritter mixture into a hot pan, and cook for a few minutes each side, to give a crispy fritter.
Fritters are great for using up:
- pre-cooked vegetables (e.g. leftover roasted veg)
- half-used tins of vegetables, like sweetcorn or peas
- carrot or courgette (zucchini) - grate it and mix it straight into the mixture
- the last few pieces of antipasti in the jar, e.g. sun-dried tomatoes or olives
- the last couple of eggs in the fridge
- half-used tins of beans or chickpeas
- the last of a lump of cheese (most kinds!)
A few vegetarian fritter recipes to try
Well there you are! Ten different vegetarian fridge clearing ideas - ways to use all those last little bits in the fridge to make an amazing meal. Whatever veg you have lingering in the fridge, there's sure to be something here you can make with them!