“Should we just fend?”: A vernacular for eating whatever
April 25, 2021 2:31 PM   Subscribe

“Fending” is our household’s word for picking around the kitchen, seeing what’s there, and making a meal of it… I might have leftover chicken fried rice, some lox and cream cheese on Triscuits, and the end of a jar of pickles. He might use up the chicken salad, Tuesday’s chili, and the last of the roasted cauliflower, which, by the way, is still good.
Writing in The New Yorker, cartoonist Roz Chast describes how she asked around on Instagram about what other people call this practice and collected a moderately long list of vernacular.
Since people might not want to burn their clicks on this tiny li’l article, a list of many of the entries is inside.

  • Fending
  • Scrounging
  • Foraging
  • Scavenging
  • California plate
  • Spa plate
  • Eek
  • Mustard with crackers
  • Having weirds
  • Getcheroni
  • Goblin meal
  • Gishing
  • Phumphering
  • Peewadiddly
  • Picky-poke
  • Screamers
  • Trash panda
  • Rags and bottles
  • Black-cow night
  • Blackout bingo
  • Miff muffer moof
  • Anarchy kitchen
  • Mush gooey
  • Fossick
  • Going feral
  • Going Darwin
  • Schlunz
  • Goo gots
  • Oogle moogle
  • You getsty
  • Jungle dinner
  • Dirt night
  • Mousy-mousy
  • Having Pucci
  • Ifits (“If it’s in the refrigerator, it’s fair game”)
  • OYO(“On Your Own”)
  • YOYO (“You’re On Your Own”)
  • MYO (“Make Your Own”)
  • FIFI (“Find It and Fix It)
  • CORE (“Clean Out Refrigerator of Everything)
  • Eating promiscuously
  • Orgy
  • Khert o pert (“Odds and ends” in Farsi)
  • Tousi (Quebecois abbreviation of tout ce qui reste, “all that’s left”)
  • Farrapo velho (Portuguese for “old rag”)
  • Zoobecki (“Icebox” spelled backwards, sort of.)
Though not catalogued by Chast, in an episode of the Off Menu podcast, Sarah Millican refers to this practice as “Freezer Surprise”)
posted by Going To Maine (125 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
The ones that equate this with pure chaos purge 24/7 are hilarious to me because this is all of my meals, all eating is this. I had no idea I was living like an animal haha
posted by bleep at 2:35 PM on April 25 [24 favorites]


Here's Chast, non-paywalled.
posted by chavenet at 2:35 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


My mother called it "grazing."
posted by chavenet at 2:36 PM on April 25 [32 favorites]


Fridge lotto
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 2:37 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


My family's phrase was "catch-as-catch-can;" TIL there's a wrestling origin?
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:37 PM on April 25 [15 favorites]


Forage, scrounge, graze, and browse are the terms we use most.

I’ve also called it “plecostomizing”, after the fish at the bottom of the tank that cleans up all the residue.
posted by darkstar at 2:38 PM on April 25 [14 favorites]


In our household it's a "fend for yourself" meal! Fun to highlight these little bits of family slang that usually go unexamined.
posted by merriment at 2:40 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


We use the term "DIY", as opposed to one person preparing a meal for everybody.
posted by solarion at 2:42 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


We don’t have a name for it but I can get behind “fend.”
posted by obfuscation at 2:45 PM on April 25


I like fridge lotto, because it's the closest to the Danish "væltet køleskab", literally turned-over fridge.
I suppose it depends on your fridge, but in our household, turned-over fridge is often the best, a source of joy and invention, mostly vegetarian.
posted by mumimor at 2:45 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


I'm with Sarah Millican - we call this Freezer Surprise, largely because of our tendency to put leftovers in the freezer without labelling the boxes and end up with a collection of unidentifiable things that have probably been in there so long that they should be eaten immediately - the surprise comes after defrosting, by which time you are, of course committed to whatever random combination has emerged from the ice.
posted by merlynkline at 2:46 PM on April 25 [19 favorites]


In Danish, you often see "alt godt fra havet" (literally "everything good from the sea") used by seafood restaurants, seafood buffets, and any dish that includes a variety of fish and shellfish, like risottos and pasta dishes.

So in my family, the style of meal described here is "alt godt fra køleskabet" ("everything good from the fridge").
posted by Dysk at 2:46 PM on April 25 [33 favorites]


We just called it having leftovers. But we approve heartily of Getcheroni.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:47 PM on April 25 [23 favorites]


I'll vote for "fend". My fending victory last weekend was egg noodles with kimchi and the chopped up thighs from a rotisserie chicken.
posted by AJScease at 2:52 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


At this point the idea of everyone having the same thing for a meal strikes me as deeply wierd. I guess except on special occasions? I mean, bodies don't want the same things, and everyone has different flavour wants and nutrition needs. I could eat a bunch of stuff that was put before mebut then feel like "my body needs something else but I've already eaten, so I guess I should eat more?" I dunno. We all prepare our own meals out of ingredients we've prepared ahead of time.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:56 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


We call it Fendsday Wednesday.
posted by kimberussell at 2:57 PM on April 25 [8 favorites]


We have a periodic “all the dregs of frozen or leftover tomato-based anything go in the same pot and we serve whatever comes out over whatever pasta we have to hand” which we need a term for, but is not quite the same as a scrounging meal.

Also, scrounging here means “everyone finds whatever they want out of the fridge but we eat together”, which is distinct from grazing, where people can get whatever they want on their own time.
posted by mhoye at 2:59 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


I once asked my wife if we had a plan for that evening’s supper or everyone was on their own. My exact phrasing was, “Are there schemes for dinner or is it chacun à son gout*?

This has survived and has gradually been elided to “schemes or chacun?”

*Well, because I am a dad, what I actually said “chacun à son goat?” But you get the idea.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:01 PM on April 25 [18 favorites]


MetaFilter: Mustard with crackers
posted by Splunge at 3:03 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


It was "pick a can" night in the Bowmaniac household.
posted by bowmaniac at 3:06 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


It's "Make Your Own Damn Dinner" in our house.
posted by briank at 3:08 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


We do grazing or leftovers night. But it's just me and the kid so a standard main+sides meal never really happens anyway. She doesn't like the same sides as me. We agree on a main and then supplement later with fruit or veg or carbs or nothing as desired. Unless we eat out.

When she's with her dad it is pretty much always odd 'n ends for me.
posted by emjaybee at 3:10 PM on April 25


My family's phrase was "catch-as-catch-can;" TIL there's a wrestling origin?

We used to call it catch-as-catch-can in my house too! But obviously it's changing to goblin meal starting today.
posted by charismatic megafauna at 3:12 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


We call it foraging.
posted by potrzebie at 3:13 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


My partner called her adored post-Thanksgiving turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce sandwiches 'carrion comfort' once, and other leftovers 'cold comfort', occasionally.
posted by jamjam at 3:15 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


We also say “fend” with the understanding it’s “fend for yourself.” I was honestly surprised that anyone else used the term - now I wonder if we got it somewhere.

My summer camp used to serve a “family meal” between sessions consisting of leftovers from the previous week. On the menu board it was called “the Week in Review.”
posted by Miko at 3:16 PM on April 25 [22 favorites]


+1 for scrounge.

To me leftovers (the helpings of a complete meal that weren't et) are often scrounged but scrounging is not always leftovers.
posted by muddgirl at 3:20 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


We just called it having leftovers. But we approve heartily of Getcheroni.

To me leftovers (the helpings of a complete meal that weren't et) are often scrounged but scrounging is not always leftovers.

Yes, agree. In Chast’s example I think it’s the use of triscuits and the jar of pickles that takes it out of the category of leftovers.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:22 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


In Danish, you often see "alt godt fra havet" (literally "everything good from the sea")

Isn't "fend" an exclamation in Danish? You hear it in Scandi dramas like Borgen and Bronn. As in "for Fend Saga!"
posted by ishmael at 3:23 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


+1 for catch-as-catch-can, which we sometimes abbreviate to CACC, pronounced like someone with an exaggerated Boston accent was pronouncing another word for rooster.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 3:24 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


I'm also from a "fend for yourself" house, and yeah, it never occurred to me that lots of other people might also use the expression that way! I don't think my grandparents ever said it, either, so now I'm wondering if there was some pop culture thing in the 70s-80s that influenced my parents?
posted by grandiloquiet at 3:25 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


The other thing I learned from this post is that Roz Chast makes decorated eggs and they are incredible.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:29 PM on April 25 [8 favorites]


I use "fend for yourself" though I've also heard "pantry raid" I think from Good Eats?
posted by Aleyn at 3:29 PM on April 25


Huh. I would distinguish between having leftovers (even if mixed sorts for different household movers) together as a meal ("leftovers"), each eating separately ("scrounging", even if everyone ends up eating the same thing), or what we called in my house growing up "fancy dinner" (basically, eating a meal together, but where the meal is composed of snack foods: crackers and cheese, whatever random pickles or applesauce are available, raw cut veggies, etc.).
posted by eviemath at 3:32 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Musgo... as in "everything in the refrigerator musgo".
posted by zainsubani at 3:33 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


Those are some fantastic words in the article, but my favorite is definitely "Getcheroni"! I've also heard "Tupperware bingo" used.

I've never called it much of anything beyond "leftovers", because that mode is probably 2/3 to 3/4 of my meals. I live alone, and since there's little point in going to all the trouble of preparing only a single serving of a complete meal, I make the typical "4-6 servings" of most recipes with the intent to continue feeding off it until either it's used up or I get temporarily tired of eating the same thing and pop the rest in the freezer. That even applies if I order delivery food - might as well load up enough for 2-3 lunches and/or dinners. Or sometimes on weekends I'll spend time making a really big batch of something (tomato sauce, chicken stock, veggie soup, chili, a roast, smoked meat/fish, lasagna, etc.) with the express intent of parceling up and freezing the majority of it to make the most of my big effort. So my fridge/freezer content waxes and wanes, then gets stocked up to the gills again after my weekly grocery run.

I roast a chicken every other week or so, but (again, as it's just me) I can't finish an entire 4-5lb bird before the meat spoils. So after that first dinner I pick the rest of the meat off the carcass and freeze the bones (saving up to make stock), then usually freeze the breast meat to use for soup or casserole when the urge takes me, and over the next couple days I'll nibble the rest of the dark meat along with whatever other leftovers/freshly-cooked carbs (pasta, rice, grits) I get the notion to cobble together.

So between cooking more than I need for a single meal and getting food delivered a couple times a week, plus the more random this'n'that mentioned in the article, I'm only doing "real" cooking in the kitchen 1 or occasionally 2 times a week.

The delivery thing is going to have get cut way back soon, though, since there likely won't be any further stimulus checks and I won't be able to justify the argument that "I'm redistributing that free money out to the struggling restaurants and gig-economy workers". When it's back to just my own salary it'll be time to tighten the belt, get some self-discipline, and get back to cooking for myself again.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:34 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


On the menu board it was called “the Week in Review.”

😄 Brilliant!
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:35 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


My wife and I used to play an online game called Puzzle Pirates. In this game, you can "forage", which gives you a random result. One the results was "you forage some rambutan". We had no idea what that was, but from context it was edible. A scraped together dinner is "rambutan" to this day.
posted by Blorg at 3:42 PM on April 25 [11 favorites]


We have a long-running family joke about leaving a baked potato in the oven as a silent reproach to anyone who comes home late for supper. So our term for foraging is "having a reproachful baked potato".
posted by verstegan at 3:44 PM on April 25 [15 favorites]


Ah this is interesting. I think I am somewhere between scrounging and grazing, but for me scrounging is "I'm going to dig around in the kitchen and assemble something random for the two of us to eat" and grazing is "We are going to just pick at food during not-usual mealtimes." In my life now the only time I eat one whole meal all at once with other people is holidays, restaurants or at other people's houses. We didn't really do family dinners growing up so it's interesting to hear about how other people do this kind of thing.
posted by jessamyn at 3:51 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Fend For Yourself Friday was a thing in my house growing up.
posted by COD at 3:54 PM on April 25


+1 foraging, grew up with both "fend for yourself" and "catch as catch can."

While as an adult I have different words for what's being described in the article, "having leftovers" has the same meaning in my family now as when I was a kid, and it is different from foraging in at least one of two ways (and usually both): a) we are just having one meal's leftovers, or mayyybe two if they go together thematically/flavorwise*, and/or b) we are all eating the SAME leftovers.

*but that's pretty rare because if we are thinking of having a meal thematically or flavorwise similar to a very recent one, we'll probably just have leftovers rather than making a new meal. ...Unless someone has been foraging so there isn't enough of the first meal to have leftovers.
posted by solotoro at 3:58 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


My parents always called it "Duck Under the Table" which I assume was a WW2 Blitz-inspired version of Pheasant Under Glass. I hadn't thought about that phrase in years, so thank you for the memory joggle!
posted by ninazer0 at 4:04 PM on April 25 [12 favorites]


My wife and I have two young sons, so we have regular meals three times a day. Plus a regular snack once a day. Noshing happens here and there, but is an outlier activity.

"Fending" is how my parents eat. All the time. When I came to visit with my wife and young sons, they actually had to adjust to eating a full meal at meal time. I'm jealous, though. One good point of an empty nest will be noshing here and there, whenever the mood strikes. Seriously, those three meals a day have got to be the hardest part of parenting; it's at least the most relentless part.
posted by zardoz at 4:06 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


Boring answer, but my wife and I call this "snacking" for dinner. Usually ends up being cheese and crackers, plus whatever leftover things we can find. Sometimes a Trader Joe's frozen pizza (they're small... the arugula one is particularly good, BTW) accompanies this.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:11 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Fend for yourself / FFY in our house, although it sometimes goes by "freezer diving" if we're heating something prepared that requires the oven. Since freezer diving does technically involve more time, thought and effort than FFY (usually cheese and crackers / microwaved hot dogs / easy cold cut sandwiches), it gets special recognition.

I have yet to come up with a name for the "food is entirely too much to manage right now so I'll be dining on the Bugles and chocolate chips that are within arm's reach for some reason*" meal. That might be for the best, though.

*this has happened more than once over the past year
posted by Vervain at 4:17 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


The food writer Clotilde Dusolier refers to this as "picnic dinners".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


We call it “tin of beans”
posted by shesdeadimalive at 4:27 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


our term for foraging is "having a reproachful baked potato".

"Here's your f***in' potato. Eat it and weep."

I learned from a friend of mine who'd lived in Scotland for a while about a popular street-food version of a baked (russet/jacket) potato with a variety of toppings such as tuna, peas corn, cheese, etc. It's very tasty, and - if you happen to have such potatoes available - makes a great base for a satisfying pantry/freezer-foraging meal.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:29 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


We call it ‘picky picks’ as in you pick random available items from the fridge and have a mishmash of whatever’s available for dinner. I thought that it was kind of lazy feeding/parenting on my behalf only to find out that these are the meals my kids love the most!
posted by Jubey at 4:33 PM on April 25


Yes, agree. In Chast’s example I think it’s the use of triscuits and the jar of pickles that takes it out of the category of leftovers.

If you're not opening a new jar of pickles and a new box of Triscuits, then you are having leftovers.
posted by aubilenon at 4:37 PM on April 25 [8 favorites]


"A scraped together dinner is "rambutan" to this day."

Ooh, ooh! I know this one! Rambutan is a tropical fruit/tree.

I've never had it fresh, but the dried version shows up in Trader Joe's on occasion and is quite tasty.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 4:43 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Foraging, noshing, and grazing.

...which is never as dignified as "lox on crackers" when I'm involved. More like "half of this hunk of cheese and a handfull of uncooked string beans" or "a pile of Cheez-its and a tangerine." The ingredients aren't assembled, just consumed.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:45 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


My mother called it "grazing."

Here it's leftovers when purposefully combining bits and pieces of recently prepared meals to make one more, definitely grazing when it's a step lower in combing the cold box for various scraps of cheese, veggies, bread, spreads and/or whatever's about to pass the perishable threshold. Leftovers = at least 2-3 nights/week, grazing maybe 2-3 times/month.

That's perfectly normal for us but we once had lovely neighbor friends who never ate a leftover - for whom the notion was literally repugnant - and we still talk about how strange that concept was to us.
posted by thecincinnatikid at 4:45 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


We use "tapas" as our catch-all term for "each person independently assembles a meal out of whatever can be found." It covers a lot of ground from tasty meals of multiple small plates of good food to a bowl of muesli.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:47 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Fending is more general. FFY (fend for yourself) means do whatever you want or need to do to feed yourself - cook, eat leftovers, get deluvery, have a box of Cheez Its, whatever, and I'll take care of myself. Random fridge detritus can be part of fending, but fending is bigger than that.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:47 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


I saw a comic strip that referred to this as "MacGyvering a dinner."
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:50 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


Random fridge detritus

Stop, you're making my mouth water!
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:55 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


"having a reproachful baked potato"

... what was the long version??
posted by eviemath at 5:00 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


peas corn

Is this, like, a specific Scottish thing, or just "peas and corn" or "peas, corn" with the and or comma missing? (Asking because I can see it going either way, based on what little I know of Scottish cuisine.)
posted by eviemath at 5:02 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


"having a reproachful baked potato".

"Here's your f***in' potato. Eat it and weep."


Obligatory Archer.
posted by doctornemo at 5:07 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


It's a mix of foraging and fend for yourself at our house.
posted by doctornemo at 5:09 PM on April 25


My FIL calls it Christian dinner -- as in "seek and ye shall find".
posted by luftmensch at 5:11 PM on April 25 [10 favorites]


Here, grazing and foraging are different things. "Forage" is the official term for what we're talking about in the thread. Grazing is a reason someone's not into an organized meal (or any meal at all, for them), since they've been eating this and that little thing all day and aren't hungry. That might trigger everyone else to have to forage.

I do like YOYO, though, might try that one once in a while. Or "figgum", which would stand for "F-you, I Got Mine (FIGM)" as a more emphatic YOYO call.
posted by ctmf at 5:28 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I've called pulling a meal together out of whatever I can find in the house 'Cream of Refrigerator' after the Universal Binding Ingredient in many casseroles, cream of mushroom soup.
posted by Otherwise at 5:29 PM on April 25 [12 favorites]


Not quite the same thing as it doesn’t refer to a low energy fallback for those occasions when nobody wants to exert the mental energy (or possibly emotional labor) to produce a formal meal, but I think this classic from Mike Royko is closely related: Cupboard Bares Food For Thought
My friend went back to the refrigerator and said: ''I notice there`s no shortage of beer, so you must do some extra shopping for that.''

''As an ancient wise man once said,'' I told him, ''man doesn`t live by Raisin Bran alone.''
For the record in our house we mostly 'fend', though we sometimes refer to 'pot luck'.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 5:29 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


While as an adult I have different words for what's being described in the article, "having leftovers" has the same meaning in my family now as when I was a kid, and it is different from foraging in at least one of two ways (and usually both): a) we are just having one meal's leftovers, or mayyybe two if they go together thematically/flavorwise*, and/or b) we are all eating the SAME leftovers.

In our house, it was only "leftovers" if it was patched together from multiple batches of regular dinner. If everyone was just eating the same thing we all had two nights ago, it was not "leftovers" , but "leftover x".

My wife and I used to play an online game called Puzzle Pirates. In this game, you can "forage", which gives you a random result. One the results was "you forage some rambutan".

I had a cake sense of what rambutans were when I played Puzzle Pirates but I had certainly not eaten one. Then I got very excited when I found some in a Chinese grocery store once! Like lychees covered in velcro.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:30 PM on April 25


We call it a smorgy. I’ve been having a lot of these lately due to severe cooking burnout and hacking together a meal from random leftovers and condiments is where I’m at.
posted by waving at 5:31 PM on April 25


My wife and I call this “making a board” mostly because it winds up taking the shape of a charcuterie board like one might have in a gastropub, when those were still a thing. Cutting board with some week old cheese, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, leftover meats, and maybe some raw vegetables tossed with dressing. Sometimes we’ll splurge with getting a nice tin of sardines or a fresh baguette but otherwise keep it simple.
posted by bl1nk at 5:32 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


We call it either scavenging or grab-your-own.

Growing up we used to say left-unders, as in there's not enough to feed everyone the same thing, so it's 'under' instead of 'over'.
posted by buildmyworld at 5:37 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


I love this! In our house this is just "eat whatevers", but I'm planning to adopt a few of these phrases. When I was growing up, this was smorgasborg (yes, I know it should be smorgasbord, but that's not how we pronounced it for whatever reason).
posted by skycrashesdown at 5:37 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


We do "little bits", which doesn't actually have to be leftovers, but usually includes them. The goal seems to be to have as many different foods as possible on the table, and to luxuriate in variety.

But also to eat the leftovers.

I really like Tousi, getcheroni, and the week in review. But I really really like goblin meal. I don't think it will catch on in my house, but I'll try.
posted by Acari at 5:39 PM on April 25


One of my husband's weirdnesses is that he does not like to arrange his own meal, like, ever. So I guess I fend for both of us. This happens mostly when I'm sick of moving around all the containers in the fridge, so I'll eat the weird-looking brown stuff that probably used to be stew with a piece of toast and give him that slice of slightly-dry meatloaf, along with that half jar of cheese sauce that still smells mostly ok, poured over a steam-in-bag of broccoli. Hey, if he wanted dibs on the brown stuff he shoulda fended for himself.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:48 PM on April 25


We call this "freezer items" if it's preplanned, like we usually plan two weeks of meals at once and build in one or two nights of Freezer Items. We are bad at labeling, so we are never quite sure what the item is gonna be.
posted by nakedmolerats at 5:56 PM on April 25


Called eating.

Everyone eating the same thing at the same time is the special event requiring a weird label
posted by goinWhereTheClimateSuitsMyClothes at 5:56 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


My mother calls it “fish lips or make your own” with the joke being, I guess, that fish don’t have lips.
posted by beandip at 6:02 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Is this, like, a specific Scottish thing, or just "peas and corn" or "peas, corn" with the and or comma missing?

Just a mistakenly omitted comma, sorry for the confusion!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:05 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


We don't have a particular term so I think I'll adopt "having weirds".

In our house there are leftovers, only made-aheads.
posted by Emmy Rae at 6:18 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Oh man. Getchcheroni is such a great word, we will no longer forage in this house .
This reminds me of how picking up takeout on the way home became known as the Dinner Store at my house, as in "Hi, I'm in my way home... Are we cooking or should I stop at the dinner store?"

My wife and I used to play an online game called Puzzle Pirates. In this game, you can "forage", which gives you a random result. One the results was "you forage some rambutan".

I had a cake sense of what rambutans were when I played Puzzle Pirates but I had certainly not eaten one.


I always wondered if you were there same Jacquilynne... Looterati represent!
posted by ApathyGirl at 6:31 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I just call it "possum". As in "possum dinner", or "I'm secretly a possum."
posted by cnidaria at 6:34 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


In the action verb culinary category:
Large plate of beans
cargo scrape
Unlabeled tins: Anticipatory green.
fridge pie
check the condiment drawer
posted by clavdivs at 6:41 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


It's often fridge re-set, or fridge cleanout for us. But that's only when the diversity of food overpowers my "kitchen sink fried rice" recipe. (Recipe : old rice, soy sauce, few drops of sesame oil, everything else and the kitchen sink.)
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 6:46 PM on April 25


Back in the divorce times and money and menus needed aggressive managing - Scavenging was on the meal plan. Nice to see others use it, scavenging usually meant that Kid Gyre was at other parent's place and dinner here was an egg, or lettuce, or "there's two bites of this and three of that and yes it doesn't really go together but it's a meal."
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 6:52 PM on April 25


Growing up we called it "pick-up supper." Like a pick-up sports game with food as the players.
posted by obliviax at 7:21 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


We're boring and just call it "Free night" I'm surprised that I didn't see that anywhere in the comments. We alternate cooking duties but on any given day (not too frequently though) you can call a Free Night and skip your cooking day.

I noticed two distinct categories have appeared in the original list and these comments.

1. Nobody is cooking because we have a lot of leftovers/perishables that need to be consumed.
2. Nobody is cooking because nobody wants to. Getcheroni.
posted by McNulty at 7:31 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Growing up this was "Foraging" and "Fend for yourself" - both parents grew up in and around nyc/north Jersey.
posted by coffeecat at 7:53 PM on April 25


"Root hog," here. It isn't necessarily the same as leftovers, because leftovers implies a previous meal, and root hog just means "find your own food, which could be leftovers or could be something you cook or maybe you're just not hungry."
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:20 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


[Depression era great grand parents have had a trickle down effect on our family's ability to spin casserole from drole]

supply side cooking
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:22 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


We call it soup and sandwiches or fending for yourself in my house.

I'm the chief cook, but everyone else knows how to fix a frozen pizza, or soup, or microwave leftovers. And of course, make themselves a sandwich.

I don't think we called it anything other than maybe snacking when I was growing up.
posted by tlwright at 8:23 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I read this the other night, and ever since then, I have been walking around the house with that “it’s right on the tip of my tongue” feeling because I know we call this something, and while I think we also call it fend for yourself, the long list of other options also made me think, wait, do we call it catch as catch can? All on our own? It’s like trying to remember a song lyric when another song is playing.

I’m just going to have to wait until the next time we do this (which is usually Sunday nights, but tonight was raining so we got takeout so who even knows anymore) and then maybe I’ll finally have the answer. We definitely have a name for this thing. It may even be clever.
posted by Mchelly at 8:31 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


On a related note, rambutan means "hairy fruit" in Indonesian. Since they are quite small, if you only had a single rambutan to eat, you'd definitely need to forage or scrounge for other food to make a complete meal.
posted by emilynoa at 8:43 PM on April 25


Oh, you mean “helpie selfie”?
posted by uvince at 9:54 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


We use scavenging, but it's goblin meal from here on out.
posted by benzenedream at 11:21 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Scrounge is what my mother called it and when asked "what?" would reply "if you can kill it you can eat it" which never really endeared her to the upwardly mobile and wannabe types. Could be cereal, could be random leftovers on toast, could be eggs with a thing, but you were on your own for fixing it and eating it. Random dinners eaten together are "leftovers" rather than the individual meal components.
posted by geek anachronism at 11:53 PM on April 25


It's 'DIY' if it's a known night that one or both of us have something on, I will often plan a specific meal, normally something I wouldn't otherwise get to eat (fish is often a thing as t'hb is allergic), it's 'Leftovers' if we have specifically planned to make something that that we'll eat twice in the week, it's 'scratch' if we can't be bothered/haven't planned anything and are just scratching about in the kitchen - this could be a meal that we share or we scratch up individual meals.
posted by halcyonday at 1:43 AM on April 26


Somewhat relatedly, we have been experimenting with making improvised vegetable soups out of random scraps left over from other cooking projects - stuff that might otherwise end up in the compost bin; it takes us about a week to collect enough, and then it's Trash Soup day.
posted by each day we work at 2:06 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


In my family we have a distinct word for all sitting down together to a dining table rich in bits and scraps of leftovers and assorted fridge findings, but I don’t know how to spell it. Schmeidrei? Shmay-dray?

I always assumed it was a legit Yiddish word but none of us have found any evidence to support that theory. My mom got it from her mom and that’s all we know. If I had kids I’d make sure to pass it on to them too.

I like “getcheroni” for the fend-for-yourself type of meal, though. Might have to cop that for my own household.
posted by some_kind_of_toaster at 3:41 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


"Hunt *and* Forage"
posted by infini at 4:30 AM on April 26


We used our "Friday 'fridge forage" to justify eating meat on Fridays, back in the days when it was forbidden. We thought it was more of a sin to waste the leftover chicken/roast/whatever than eating it.
posted by james33 at 4:31 AM on April 26


Growing up it was “clean out the refrigerator night” and I still use that from time to time.
posted by TedW at 5:29 AM on April 26


Taking a lesson from the waste-not-want-not home economics classes of our youth, we call this "home-ecking a dinner."
posted by Westringia F. at 5:39 AM on April 26


The first word that came to mind was "rummage," which I don't see mentioned yet.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:41 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Similar to getcheroni, my inlaws used "someofeachi", which is way more fun to say than to write. The first time she pulled it on me she said "oh, we're having our favorite italian tonight: someofeachi" and I waited with heightened curiousity for this dish I had never heard of before.
posted by hearthpig at 6:18 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Forage. I'm the (surprisingly rare, it seems) type who makes weekly menus, and there's always at least one forage night written into them.
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:49 AM on April 26


We’re scroungers. Oddly, we also “forage” (or “hunt and gather”) but in our house that’s going for take-out.
posted by gelfin at 7:08 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


We call this "ingredients for dinner."

You're eating the ingredients that go into making a meal without actually preparing anything.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:45 AM on April 26 [5 favorites]


"A scraped together dinner is "rambutan" to this day."

What. Seriously?! Surely this is not to be borne.

What does your household call it when you're all out of clean clothes to wear (what a normal family might call "compulsory laundry hour")... Gucci day???
posted by MiraK at 8:22 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Frankly, 99.9% of the time I am only feeding my own self; I'm single and my roommate and I almost always have different hunger cycles and food moods. So I really just call this "eating".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:25 AM on April 26


.....Oh, wait. And after posting that, it suddenly occurs to me that sometimes I refer to this as "ploughman's lunch".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty curious about Tousi and am wondering how new of a word that is - in our French Canadian household we never used it so maybe strictly a Quebec word? In anycase funny.

Growing up it was either "x on toast", X being whatever happened to be around as my dad would eat anything on a piece of white toasted bread. Anything - fried rice, spaghetti, leftover pancakes... etc. Or with my mother it'd be that we're having "soup" (usually made with leftover meat & vegetables) or a "skillet" (leftovers fried in a pan with maybe an egg to bind it). In my household now it is always leftovers / fried supper (akin to my mother's skillet) / or kitchen randomness. My son calls it a ploughman's lunch as well though only if it is a cold supper.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:34 AM on April 26


I have a friend who grew up poor in Nebraska. Whenever we had to scrounge together a meal he called it "shed filler". Something that just takes up space so that you aren't hungry anymore. The goal was that you'd make something that's not gonna be great, hopefully not terrible but filling. So, we answer the "what's for dinner" question with "shed filler" and we all know the deal: nothing planned, we'll pull it together on the fly.
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:43 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


In my family we have a distinct word for all sitting down together to a dining table rich in bits and scraps of leftovers and assorted fridge findings, but I don’t know how to spell it. Schmeidrei? Shmay-dray?

I always assumed it was a legit Yiddish word but none of us have found any evidence to support that theory. My mom got it from her mom and that’s all we know. If I had kids I’d make sure to pass it on to them too.


I'm no language expert by a long shot but i do believe Schmei/Schmy in yiddish means to meander or browse - i would most regularly hear it conjugated as "schmei around". Seems like this may be based on real words but like a lot of yiddish etymology transliteration and idiosyncratic pronunciations/usage make that tough.

Getcheroni is entering my lexicon, as a lover of both punny portmanteaus and snack plate/leftover scrap dinners.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:47 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


We say "fend-for", pronounced "fend-fer". What do you want to do for dinner tonight? Chicken, spaghetti, or fend-for?
posted by jenny76 at 10:07 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


On a related note, rambutan means "hairy fruit" in Indonesian. Since they are quite small, if you only had a single rambutan to eat, you'd definitely need to forage or scrounge for other food to make a complete meal.

Rambutan fruit looks and tastes to me like the wet translucent grapes in a can of fruit salad, but the shell is seriously cool looking. You should buy one if you have a store nearby that stocks them.

We never had this in my household, and my kids are too young for foraging their own meals. My parents always made or purchased something, even if it was just a sandwich.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:18 AM on April 26


We use fend.

I am flashing on a scene from the mid-80s film, About Last Night, where they referred to it as "sandwich night."
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 10:29 AM on April 26


I’m pretty curious about Tousi and am wondering how new of a word that is - in our French Canadian household we never used it so maybe strictly a Quebec word? In anycase funny.

Chaz’s sample size for all of these is N=1, so quite a few might be very niche.

I am flashing on a scene from the mid-80s film, About Last Night, where they referred to it as “sandwich night.”

It wasn’t a thing that my parents continued, but in my grandparents’ house lunch would often mean getting a bunch of cold cuts and condiments out of the fridge, putting some bread on the sideboard, and letting everyone have at it.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:40 AM on April 26


In my house it's "Scrounging" if we're each doing it ourselves. If someone gathers all the leftovers, heats up as necessary, and puts them on the table for us to eat together, it's "Leftover Smorgasbord."
posted by tangosnail at 11:15 AM on April 26


We use foraging and scrounging interchangeably.

But whatever you call it, my mental picture is always Tuppy Glossop in the 90s Fry and Laurie Jeeves and Wooster adaptation, sneaking downstairs in pajamas to raid the gloriously-overstocked larder of the Travers household.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:28 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Scrounging, scavenging, raiding the kitchen, lazy dinner.

My dad always called it "catch as catch can" but the phrase never made any sense and bugged me for whatever reason, so I didn't pick it up.
posted by Foosnark at 1:16 PM on April 26


I make a decorative plate with all of it and call it "hodge-podge." I don't know why it's important that it be two words, hyphenated, but that's what it is.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:32 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


We also call it "fend for yourself". In the past, I've said graze.
posted by kathrynm at 5:56 PM on April 26


"Catch-as-catch-can" in my household (in eastern NC in the 80s & 90s), too, though nearly always actually shortened as "catch-can."

Very wee rhilet thought it was because it often meant I got to eat whatever combination of canned food I could find in the cabinet (Dinty Moore beef stew and canned greenbeans FTW) until Mom finally said it in full.
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:41 PM on April 26


I guess I call this “food units,” although that also has the connotation that one urgently needs to shovel in some calories. One can consume food units at any time of day, not just dinner. From a grad school lab mate. See also: feeding, fressen (German for “to eat like an animal”).
posted by momus_window at 7:46 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Cold-assemblage dinner! (A joyful coinage with a dear friend in grad school.)
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 11:54 PM on April 26


We call it Animals in the Jungle--you catch it, you kill it, you eat it. So fend for yourself, basically. Not original--read it in a novel years ago & adopted it.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:59 PM on April 27 [1 favorite]


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