Change a Dinner Fail to a Dinner Win!

Change a Dinner Fail to a Dinner Win!

I’m sure we have all been in a dinner fail situation. The one where you take the first bite and think, “Eh, this is gross, but maybe it will be better with another bite.” Or, “There is no chance my kids will eat this.” Let’s face it, we’re all going to have dinner fails! Even Mr. Delish doesn’t do it right every time.

A few weeks ago, I was “lucky” enough to have two dinner fails in one week!  One was a meal and the other was a side dish that I brought to a potluck. I cooked beef stroganoff from the meal prep group. I’ve written about the meal prep HERE. My kids did not like the beef stroganoff and it definitely wasn’t my favorite. I also bought a new type of bagged salad mix from Costco for a friends’ dinner and it wasn’t a hit. Instead of throwing away so much food, I decided to try to revamp it into other dishes.

Food Waste

Why do I not want to throw away a meal everyone refused to eat? I’m trying to reduce food waste from my house. Aside from the obvious waste of money from my pocket, food waste has serious consequences for the environment. In total, approximately 40% of the food supply goes to waste. It is the largest component of trash going into landfills. The majority of that waste occurs at the consumer and retail levels, so we can’t really pass the buck anywhere but ourselves. Trying to limit the amount I throw away isn’t going to solve the problem, but every little bit helps.

Back to Business

Okay, I hope that you didn’t decide to google “how can I reduce food waste” until after you finish reading my post! For most meals, the protein (or meat) is usually the most expensive and the part that you probably want to save from the dinner fail. However, it’s not always easy to figure out what to do with it. When deciding how to revamp beef stroganoff and bagged chopped bbq salad, I first considered the following things:

  • What part of this can be made into something else?
  • Is it easy to separate different parts of this combination?
  • Can I add it to something else to make it better?

My main goal was to salvage the steak slices from the beef stroganoff. The sauce was the main complaint, so my plan was to dump the noodles and try to scrape off as much sauce from the meat as possible. The steak slices reminded me of a Philly cheese steak. Could I make this into a sandwich on toasted bread and melted Swiss cheese? Let’s be honest, melted cheese covers a multitude of ills.

My issue with the chopped salad was that it was composed of about 85% cabbage with a weird dressing. Apparently I prefer cabbage dressed with oil and vinegar in a coleslaw. Could I mix it the leftover cabbage salad with lettuce? The risk vs. reward of trying something new with these dishes wasn’t too high. If I failed again, I’d be out some bread, cheese, and lettuce.

Dinner Fail to Win – The Results!

The good news is that minimal sauce stuck to the steak, and it tasted great with the melted Swiss cheese. The bagged cabbage combined with bagged spring mix with a bit of shredded cheese was better than alone. Ultimately, I decided not to add any additional dressing, because I didn’t have anything that I thought would jive well with the existing dressing. Unfortunately, most of the leftover cabbage salad ended up going in the trash because the dressing made it soggy and wilty.  Next task in reducing food waste is to get a compost bin where I could dispose of the cabbage and veggies without a guilty conscience!

What do you do to rescue a bad meal? Do you suffer through it? Toss and go for PBJs? Please share your secrets for success!


USDA. US Food Waste Challenge.

US EPA. Reducing Wasted Food at Home.

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