In my heart of hearts, I am a wannabe weekend warrior. I love the idea of cooking on Sunday afternoon for the week ahead, so that my fridge is full of healthy options when I find myself with no time (or no will) to cook during the week.

But—confession here—I hate leftovers. Hate ‘em. My schizophrenic palate almost never wants the same dish two nights in a row, no matter how much I enjoyed it or how much effort it took to make. Recipes that are still perfectly tasty lose all appeal. I can’t stand to throw out good food, so I conveniently “forget” about them until they spoil and need to be tossed. Lunches pose the same problem: I’ll forget I packed one or munch happily on office snacks and test kitchen finds instead. A cooled and reheated, cooled and reheated brown bag lunch made two days ago? No, thank you!

Determined to get ahead and eliminate as much food waste as possible (something I’m hyper vigilant about these days), I have a new strategy. Instead of cooking whole recipes on the weekend, I cook components: a few hard cooked eggs, a batch of granola, some plain farro, maybe a roasted beet. I store these as is, then combine with fresh ingredients or pantry items according to my mood.

Instead of pulling several recipes for the week ahead when writing a grocery list, I start with a dish I’m craving right that moment, then think of ways to use up those ingredients (if breakfast tacos are the gotta have on Sunday, I’ll opt for veggie quesadillas later that week). I love the challenge of using up the fresh ingredients in my fridge—I get lots of variety, and almost nothing goes to waste.

See more: