Making more with less

I hate throwing food out, it feels like I failed at buying groceries and I can practically hear my budget crying at the waste. While I love to experiment with food, I don’t have a very good sense of what ingredients mesh well, so after a few disastrous meals where I had to throw out my failed dinners, I started relying on others for inventiveness.

Below are a few websites where you can enter in ingredients and then get back a list of recipes based on what you have on hand. It is a wonderful way to use up what is in your fridge or pantry, and is a great way to discover new ingredient pairings that you wouldn’t have thought of before.

  • Recipe Matcher – This website is a little overwhelming at first. It has a large list of ingredients that you can select to try and match recipes. The recommendations are based on what percentage of the ingredients you have on hand. I was impressed by the variety of recipes it has on hand, everything from simple Chicken Salad sandwiches to more difficult recipes like Beef Wellington.
  • My Fridge Food – This is one of my favorites, it is very easy to use with a simplified ingredients choice list. Some of the recipes also have comments on them from other people who have made the recipe, they often post cooking tips or suggest a twist to the recipe. While the photos are from other users who have snapped a picture of the meal after they cooked it, it is nice to have real people commenting on the recipes and sharing the pictures they took.
  • Recipe Key – While this website is a little hard to navigate, it does have a great selection of recipes based on your ingredient choices. It is another website that gives you a percentage of the ingredients you have on hand. You can create a free profile and keep a recipe box with your favorites, you can also save any preferences, allergies, or dislikes for future searches.
  • Super Cook – This webiste does offer an easy to use interface, but many of the recipes are things that I wouldn’t actually make, recipes like Cheesy Apple Rings (which are just apple halves with cheese slices melted on them), or Breadcrumbs (which are… you guessed it, breadcrumbs). If you are looking for instructions on how to make grilled cheese though, they have you covered.
  • Recipe Land – This website was a little confusing at first, but I was pleasantly surprised by the professional looking photos of the recipes and the variety of dishes that I was able to find.  While you can only enter three ingredients to look for, they also have spaces to type in what you don’t want, so it’s great for people with allergies. You can further narrow down your search however and save your preferences and favorites once you sign up for a free membership.

There are many websites out there that have great ideas to deal with leftover ingredients or with food that is close to going bad.

What are some of your favorite ways of making sure you use everything in your fridge or pantry?