Find the recipe to cook for fewer mouths

I peeked into the slow cooker, still filled with leftover pork and sauerkraut.

“We can eat it again tomorrow,” I said without much enthusiasm.

“We could,” my husband said, even less enthusiastically.

“Or maybe we can freeze it. Can you freeze sauerkraut? »

We debated the pros and cons of freezing salted cabbage for about 20 minutes. (Yes, young couples, that’s what it’s all about, 30 years later — you’re spending entire evenings having conversations like this, all while pretending Google doesn’t exist.)

We landed in the Empty Nest Territory six months ago when our youngest child left for college. Many changes, big and small, followed.

We have a lot less laundry. Things stay (relatively) clean and tidy. I’m not constantly picking up half-empty water bottles or waking up to a kitchen littered with debris from last night’s Sheetz.

On the other hand, there is a lot more food. So much food. Mountains of leftovers, all the time. Fruit that rots before you can eat it. Bags of tortilla chips, which go stale before we can reach the bottom.

It’s the oldest empty nest cliché in the book: I didn’t understand how to cook for two instead of five. I’m still happily strolling the aisles of Costco, tossing mega-containers of spinach, pasta, and organic ground beef into the cart, not quite understanding that I’m no longer providing supplies for the entire French Foreign Legion. .

In my logical mind, I know it’s just the two of us now. But my food mind hasn’t caught up.

I always want to have plenty in case anyone wants seconds. Or, what if one of the kids comes home for dinner? (Since they’re 100, 500, and 2,500 miles away, that’s unlikely. But possible! What if one of them brings a friend? Or two? It would be terrible not having enough food.)

And of course, it’s important to have a full pantry. It reassures me. Just in case one of those late February early March blizzards happens. Or there is another COVID spike or worsening supply chain issues. Or aliens kidnap all the Chipotle workers and a bowl of chicken is out of the question.

Plus, cooking at home is great! I have to do it! It’s healthier, it’s cheaper, and even though we’ve been through COVID Times with the excuse “We’re supporting local businesses!” we cannot continue to order takeout six nights a week. It is, as the children say, unbearable.

Always.

I opened the freezer the other day and was shocked to find it full of containers of leftovers. I picked one up and was intrigued by its contents. Chili? Spaghetti sauce? My famous (but mostly unpopular) West Indian chicken stew?

“I have to shrink in size,” I thought, squinting at a container that appeared to be a piece of gravel covered in shards of ice.

Or at the very least, we need to start snacking on those leftovers.

I wonder: what wine goes best with freezer burn?

Charlotte is a columnist for The Times. You can reach her at [email protected]

Michael M. Tomlin