Thanks to Commander Cody, I call it "down to seeds and stems again."
But we all have a name for it.
My mother–who was once dubbed "the leftover queen" by a now-ex husband–made "clean out the refrigerator soup" when she was down to seeds and stems in the pantry, that is, hadn't really planned or shopped for a meal (hugely atypical) but had to feed the family. She'd gather most of the leftovers, put them in a pot with cold water and some canned tomatoes, chopped onion, celery, whatever looked limp, and somehow came up with fantastic soup.
My post-collegiate son called it "scrumming:" He and his roomies would gather all the bits and pieces–the last of a box of crackers, old cheese, leftover salad or pizza–and set up a starving man's buffet.
When I get down to this point, I make pasta carbonara. Sort of.
I always have a couple of things in my freezer–a bag of corn
and a package of bacon. I always have onion, garlic and eggs. I always have a box of pasta.
I cut about 3 or 4 inches off the end of the frozen bacon slab. No need to thaw the whole thing. Refreeze the big chunk and slice the smaller piece into small dice.
Put the bacon in a frying pan over low heat with a chopped onion, several cloves of crushed garlic and a 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Let the bacon thaw, then render in the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to break apart the pieces and make sure the onions and garlic are cooking slowly, not browning.
Stir in a cup or so of frozen corn and continue cooking until the corn is hot. Turn off the heat.
Beat 2 eggs with a tablespoon of water.
Grate 3/4 cup Parmesan.
Boil enough pasta for 4 servings. Drain the cooked pasta, not too thoroughly, put it back in the pot and pour in the eggs, stirring constantly so they don't scramble. Then mix in the bacon and corn and cheese. Serve with lots of cracked black pepper.
You can substitute ham for the bacon, you can substitute frozen peas for the corn, you can use corn and peas, you can use a different hard, aged cheese, or several different ones if you have those little nubbins left over like I always do. You can garnish it with pine nuts browned in a little butter. You could toss in leftover asparagus tips.
Well, you get the picture. The basics are eggs, pasta, cured pork–the rest is refrigerator archaeology. Or whatever you call it.