Goulash: How I Stopped Throwing Groceries Away

Did you know Americans throw away 40% of their groceries?!! WHAT?? That’s just insane. And I am insane for being part of this statistic.

This is how I stopped throwing groceries away:

gou·lash/goo·laSH noun: a highly seasoned Hungarian soup or stew of meat and vegetables, flavored with paprika.

That definition is not what I was taught about goulash as a kid. We grew up thinking that goulash was a German meal usually eaten at the end of the week using the leftover meat and vegetables so that it wouldn’t go to waste.

We ate “goulash” once a week when I was a kid, either at home or at my Grandma’s. I loved it. My grandma served it with mashed potatoes. It was/is the most comforting of all comfort foods in my book, anyway. I understand if you have goulash in your family history it is probably different than what I remember eating growing up. We used ground beef, onions, and tomatoes. There was usually a veggie thrown in or on the side. My grandma would dollop a big spoonful of mashed potatoes on the center of a plate, use the back of the spoon to make a hole in the center, and then fill that with a spoonful of goulash. Ahhh…heaven.

I don’t know how it works in your home, but I go to the grocery store almost EVERY DAY.

Even with meal plans and shopping lists, I still end up at the store several days a week. Is this just me? One of my resolutions this year was to waste less and go to the store less. Much, much less. I hate throwing away produce, so I am buying less, planning more, and making goulash at least once a week. Goulash as I know the term: making dinner from left over meat and produce that will go bad if I do not use it.

I usually plan 3-4 meals a week for dinners. We eat leftovers usually two nights a week. On nights when I haven’t thought ahead we sometimes eat out, I cook breakfast for dinner, or I run to the store and cook something not on the plan. But now I am forcing myself to think creatively and use the items I have on hand. I have an entire pantry full of good foods, a freezer full, and usually a fridge full of leftovers that I can use creatively and turn them into something entirely new! So at least once a week we are calling it “goulash” night and today I am going to share with you some very successful attempts. My family adored these recipes, and I will actually be adding them to the rotation. 

There are apps to help you figure this out if you don’t feel comfortable enough to just wing it like I do. You just enter the items you have on hand and it gives you some recipes using your ingredients. Here are two app choices: All Recipes Dinner Spinner and What to Cook.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

We make these at work so naturally, they are on my mind. I had two huge sweet potatoes that I needed to use, so I thought I could surely come up with something edible and healthy for my family. My family ate every single bite on their plates and they showered me with compliments. I nuked the potatoes for 10 minutes before putting them in the oven, so I was only in the kitchen cooking for a total of 20 minutes! That’s a huge WIN! I just had these ingredients on hand and I just threw them together. Feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand. Something that works really well on sweet potatoes is BBQ. Add sour cream and jalapenos on top!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Poke slits/holes in sweet potatoes and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. In skillet, heat oil on medium. Add onion and cook about three minutes, then add garlic and cook about a minute. Add turkey and cook until brown. Add tomato, spinach, salt and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove potatoes from oven and turn broiler on high. Split potatoes then stuff them with the meat mixture. Top with cheese and put back in oven until melted and slightly browned. Enjoy!


Pork Tenderloin with Pasta

We had a lemon garlic pork tenderloin left over from dinner and I hated to waste all that expensive meat, so I started rummaging through my pantry and I came up with this. My kids loved it because they thought it was just like eating spaghetti and I was in and out of the kitchen in less than 20 minutes. My husband also thought it was delicious, and we ate it again the next night.. So my family who hates leftovers actually ate leftover leftovers. Miracles are real people.

  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 small jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp. white wine (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • leftover pork tenderloin (cooked the day before and chopped into bite size pieces; you can also use any other meat you have on hand)
  • whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • salt/pepper
  • Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Heat olive oil on medium in large skillet. Add onion and cook about three minutes until translucent, add garlic and cook one minute. Add next eight ingredients and let simmer for five minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Add pork to sauce and heat thoroughly. Toss pasta in and coat evenly. Top with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese to taste.

What have you found works in your kitchen to help put a stop to the food waste?

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