Thrifty Thursday: Pantry Meals

What are your top go-to pantry meals? (A pantry meal is something you make up out of what’s sitting around in your pantry, freezer, fridge–when you are about due to go food shopping but want to put it off for one more day–or you’re broke (me, today, actually)–or you just want to USE the food that you already have. Kind of a “love the one you’re with” philosophy, applied to food.

I asked around…and here are some great leads. I hope they inspire. I always want more inspiration, so please share YOUR favorite pantry meals in a comment below.
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Meagan Francis of The Happiest Mom blog said: “My kids love when I serve up black beans, rice, corn, salsa and some shredded cheese and a tortilla. They can mix it all together, make a taco out of it or eat it separately (and they all prefer it different ways.) We eat a pork tenderloin about once every other week and I always make pork-fried rice the next day, which they also love. Easy-I use brown rice, a little scrambled egg and peas, and some soy sauce.”

My friend from high school, Adrienne Cassara Gieszl, likes keeping cans of white clams in the pantry, so that she can whip together pasta and white clam sauce. Yes, we grew up near the ocean. Sigh, I miss it (and fresh seafood).

My OTHER friend from high school, Maggie Odell, who is a freelance chef, caterer and food stylist, shared, “I make quinoa like it’s risotto, with frozen peas or white corn & tons of parmesan and butter!” (I bet that would also be so good with farro as the grain.) Sounds like a yummy way to use up cartons of broth or frozen stock, onions, and frozen veggies.

The Feral Cook, "Cooking from Bittman's Pantry"

The Feral Cook, “Cooking from Bittman’s Pantry”

My foodie college friend, Jodi Miller, of The Feral Cook blog, swears by Mark Bittman’s Sardine Pasta.

Kimberly Bepler's Lettuce Wraps at ABCDoula

Kimberly Bepler’s Lettuce Wraps at ABCDoula

Kimberly Bepler’s blog ABCDoula has lots of crock pot recipes, which lend themselves to pantry meals. But the one that jumped out at me was Lettuce Wraps. My partner, Laura, loves the kind from PF Chang’s, but I’d much rather make a cheaper, healthier version at home.

And from multitasking mama Beth Hogan: “From my one-armed meals for two collection (kid-friendly, husband at firehouse and nursing baby): boil frozen cheese ravioli and frozen lima beans, saute frozen spinach, frozen cube of Traden Joe’s garlic in olive oil and one or two cups broth. Drain pasta and beans, then dump into pan. Shave carrots into mix with peeler. Serve with fresh parmesan.” Yum! Lots of fiber and veggies up in there.

Speaking of frozen cubes from Trader Joe’s, I am very dependent on Trader Joe’s frozen basil cubes. Last night I made pesto with them, plus 1 cube of garlic, a tomato, lemon juice, parmesan, and pignoli nuts. I served it with vegetable pasta shells. My son loves pesto, as does my partner. And my daughter, who does not, had the shells with melted cheese, with romaine lettuce on the side.

On the vegan front, mama and solo performance coach Tanya R. Taylor of Project Life Stories recommends “Rice noodles in mushroom broth….a little fried tofu and whatever veggies are in the fridge sauteed and added on top.”

If you’re anything like me, you have about 5 pounds of lentils in your pantry. I do! Green, orange, brown, you name it. Toddy Eardley, who blogs at Credit Crunch Kitchen, proposed dal and chapatis, which would be brilliant. If you have some ground meat or TVP around, try her mouthwatering Comfort Keema Pulao.
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So those are the ideas I have for you today. What are your favorite pantry meals?


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