Back in June, before the sweltering heat of my first DC summer, I threw a dinner party. At around 11am, I turned on the French Open final, poured a glass of wine, and got to work, hoping that I was making enough food for 15 hungry 20-somethings. Though people seemed to enjoy everything, I spent the next week lazily eating leftover pasta, kale salad, meatballs, and arugula bruschetta with homemade crostini. The following weekend my bruschetta was still glaring at me from the fridge. Hungry and unwilling to waste good food, but with no real desire to eat it again, I felt stuck. So I did the only thing I could think of. Since my bruschetta had similar ingredients to tomato sauce, I decided to cook it. Already having the appropriate olive oil, I just added a bit of brown sugar, red wine, and some tomato paste. After a brief spin in the blender, all that was left was to pour my sauce over some Trader Joe’s polenta, top with goat cheese, and bake. Same ingredients, different flavor profile, and a pat on the back for ingenuity.
My go to lazy meal is a classic. Fried rice. With this one, Thai or Chinese takeout the night before really pays off, since frying seems to be the only way to salvage rice after a night in the fridge. So when all I’ve got is moisture-less rice and a bunch of random veggies from last weekend’s farmer’s market, there is only one logical solution: Sautee or steam the veggies (not too much, you still want them crunchy) with some ginger, fry the rice with fish sauce, a splash of soy, some Sriracha for a little spice and revel in the simplicity.
Whether you’re on a tight budget or not wasting food should never be necessary. If you’ve ever seen Chopped, you’ll know that almost anything can be re-purposed to make something (supposedly) delicious. Plenty of other people, from food bloggers to world-class chefs, have already figured out how to transform tired scraps into a vibrant meal. You can even eat instant ramen and (almost) feel like you’re a real adult.
I proudly admit that these meals happened because I was actively trying to do less (as a college professor once told me: work smarter, not harder), And now, because I tried really hard to put in as little effort as possible, I have a few ideas in my back pocket for those lazy days when funds are low and my future looks like spring rolls and pad thai…again.