Wing-It Wednesday: My Family's Simple Weapon Against Food Waste

CC BY 2.0. Sami Grover

It's become a very tasty ritual.

Katherine has shared some excellent tips and stories about how families cook together, save money and reduce food waste too. Often a big component of such strategies is planning.

And there's good reason for that.

By simply planning meals in advance and shopping accordingly, it's easy to make sure you're buying only stuff that will actually get used, and also to spend time thinking about how all those recipes fit together in terms of nutrition, variety, convenience, etc.

But the opposite of planning is also important, and that's improvisation. My family has settled on a rather simple solution that really helps us to make the most of whatever is in our fridge. Every Wednesday becomes "wing-it Wednesday"—essentially an opportunity to create some kind of meal out of whatever leftovers, unloved veggies, herbs or pantry staples happen to take our fancy. Usually it comes together as some kind of salad, rice dish or stir-fry, served in a bowl (and often topped with a fried egg).

Of course, ironically enough, winging it also takes some planning. It's helpful to know that you always have certain ingredients on hand. It's important to teach yourself (and your family) some basic culinary skills so you can figure out what goes together where. And it doesn't hurt to think in advance about what might come in useful as part of your improvisations. (If you're making curry the night before, for example, cook some extra rice and save yourself some time...)

That's all there is to it. It's rarely "authentic" to any particular cuisine or discipline. It's almost never fancy or particularly complicated. But I must say that these thrown-together feasts are often some of my favorites in our weekly menus — and my kids seem to agree.

So whether it's "wing-it Wednesday", "muddle-through Monday", or "fry-what-you-feel Friday", I highly recommend leaving a little room in your weekly culinary routine for a little kitchen jazz. You might just surprise yourself.