What to make when your fridge is empty at the end of term

As the final week of term is upon us, the only dilemma bigger than panicked final submissions are coming home at the end of the day and being faced with an almost entirely bare fridge. It is the product of academic preoccupation and resistance to buying more groceries when leaving so soon. And so the age-old struggle begins: how can you make do without buying unnecessarily – food which often ends up in the bin without the time to eat all of it – while simultaneously, resisting the desire to get yet another take-away for the third day running. It is a challenge that requires some culinary ingenuity, and a suspension of the desire to have a colourful, balanced meal. 

Below, I’ll share with you five of my go-to meals which never fail to help me through the final days of term. They cover breakfast, lunch and dinner and you can rotate through them however you may please. A few of these suggestions rely on whatever odds and ends you still have lingering in your fridge and are a great way to use up fresh veg so it doesn’t go to waste. The rest make use of pantry staples including pasta, rice and flavourings and then they all use base ingredients of eggs and bread. I would recommend doing a final shop to get these two things and then you’ll be set for a couple of days and it’s easy enough to use them up before you go. 

Everything Caesar Salad 

This one is my favourite way to use up everything you might have sitting around as you can literally just chop everything up, throw it in a bowl, and coat it in dressing. For this recipe, I generally forgot the traditional ‘rules’ of caesar salads and used any kind of lettuce or greens (romaine, spinach, rocket, etc.), crunchy veg (peppers, cucumber, carrots, etc), and added extra bacon or chicken if I have any sitting around. For bonus points, use any bread-ends you have left over to make croutons. This one truly is a choose-your-own adventure, and you should feel the freedom to add whatever you might have sitting around and need to get rid of. 

French Toast 

This is a great breakfast or breakfast-for-dinner option, that is also a little sweet treat for you last week in Durham. The base is easy to put together: whisk an egg or two with some milk and cinnamon (feel free to add some more spices like ginger or nutmeg if you have them), soak your bread in the egg mixture, then fry with some butter. This basic French toast is easy to top and serve however your heart desires and is a great starting point to add extra fruit, cream or honey/maple syrup if you happen to have these. 

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti 

Without fail, this pasta is my dinner for the last few nights of the term as it is so easy, delicious, and uses legitimately two fresh items. To make, start by boiling the water and leaving the pasta to cook. Then add some crushed garlic to a pan with butter or olive oil with some chilli flakes and let it soften a little bit. Add some of the pasta water along with the juice and zest of one lemon. Drain your pasta and put it in the pan with your (makeshift) sauce). Mix it all and transfer it to a plate. It is also great to add chicken, spinach and cherry tomatoes if you have them sitting around, but generally, I just have it as is. 

Fried Rice 

Pesto Eggs 

These eggs are both a delicious and easy way to get rid of the final few eggs or slices of bread you might have sitting around. I like to make them with pesto which I generally have sitting in the fridge so it’s a great way to use this up, but you can also experiment with things like chilli oil to suit what you have. Spread your pesto across a frying pan and crack the egg in the middle. Then just proceed as you would with a normal fried egg and when it’s done it should come up with the pesto across it. Place on your toast and job done! 


Featured Image: Erik Mclean on Pexels

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