That One Time I Ruined Dinner

That One Time I Ruined DinnerI’m starting to learn that blogging is an exercise in talking out of both sides of my mouth. No sooner do I wax poetic about my meager grocery budget and call out the many luxuries that are wont to crop up on shopping lists, then I indulge in the biggest luxury of all: I waste money and food with a single trip to the garbage can. 

Last night, everything was going according to plan. The veggies were sauteing, the rice was simmering, and the chicken was defrosting. I had just mixed the veggies, chicken, spices, and teriyaki sauce together in the sauté pan when I opted for a little taste.

I’ve ad-libbed stir fry meals so many times, I should be able to whip one up with my eyes closed. Yet, this creation was utterly unpalatable. No amount of seasoning was going to fix it. Not wanting to risk another bite, I can only assume that the chicken had suffered such a major case of freezer burn that it tasted like I had eaten a mouthful of metal. This meal was going in the garbage. Afterwards, three important reminders appeared as the silver lining to this mealtime mess.

A Little Wiggle Room Never Hurt Nobody 

As disheartening as it was to have to throw out part of a meal (the rice is safe!), Mr. P quickly reminded me that we could more than cover the cost of this food. One quick check of my budgeting app reminded me of what I already knew – we’re nearly halfway through another month and I’m not even close to half of our grocery budget yet. Plus, if our grocery budget does get tight for month, I can always take some money out of our spending/fun money to cover the cost. While I often lament the fact that our budget is not as bare bones as it should be, in situations like this, I’m really grateful for a little extra wiggle room.

Have a Backup Plan

In my quest to eliminate excess from my kitchen, I did remove and use up a lot of overlooked grocery items. Still, I always try to have some other meal on hand. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just edible. In this case, I eyeballed a half used bag of shredded cheese from an appetizer I made for a party last week and our PB&J bread. A toasty, crusty grilled cheese sandwich would absolutely take the edge off of this stressful Monday. Grilled cheese, grilled potato wedges, and grilled zucchini spears along with a green salad from the garden reminded me that meal planning is an imperfect art, and it pays to have a plan B. Especially in the event of funky chicken. 

Laugh a Little…Or A Lot

Here’s the thing: most days, I take life way too seriously. For whatever reason, though, once I realized that the foul taste was likely an indicator of freezer burn, not a precursor to food poisoning, I started to smile. With a few quick jokes about the hazards of married life and a vow to take over kitchen duties for all of eternity*, Mr. P had me laughing so hard that I almost forgot how annoyed I was just moments before.

*If I took him up on this cooking offer, we’d be eating Rice Krispies and ice cream on the regular.

So Tell Me…Have you ever had to throw out food? Do you, like me, wish you had a compost bin for moments like these? How do you get over feeling guilty if you end up wasting something?



  1. Brianna

    For my boyfriends birthday I made a casserole and thought since we didn’t have the extra for a nice cake I would put candles in the casserole. I was trying to surprise him so when it was time I put the candles in and went to get him. When we got to the kitchen the candles had melted into the casserole 🙁 it was a large casserole and I had 22 candles all over it. It was a disaster! I felt terrible because I ruined the cute surprise and ruined his birthday dinner. But I am a vegitarian so we always have those dollar pasta boxes around for a quick meal. And he made me feel better also by cheering me up and making me laugh about it!

  2. Ouch… chalk it up to a lesson learned? I once mistook rice vinegar for rice wine and the stew we made was… very vinegary. So there’s a fix that works really well if you trust chemistry – you add baking soda. Not going to lie, I was scared… but we added it and it turned out all right.

    Lesson learned!

  3. We have definitely trashed a meal or two over the years. Sometimes if something doesn’t turn out right, we’ll try to repurpose it in a chili or some other dish where we can cover up any bad flavors, but sometimes it’s not salvageable. And just like the expression, “don’t cry over spilt milk,” in those moments you just have to move on and not cry over tossed chicken. That’s *why* we budget, so that we have flexibility and backup plans, right? 🙂

  4. Oh god I hate nothing worse than throwing out food. Often happens with fruit and sometimes veggies – they sit in the bottom of the fridge, out of sight, out of mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.