Easy meals from the pantry is a newish idea for me but it has actually been around forever. Cooking this way makes a lot of sense in the middle of our 2020 situation, but it’s also a brilliant plan for any time ever. Basically, you use what you have. How many times have you walked through the grocery store with a tiny list and ended up with a full cart? And, all those items either add to your already stocked pantry, freezer, or fridge. There is definitely nothing wrong with buying the food you need, especially if you’re not throwing out containers of moldy things regularly. Or, disposing of outdated cans of who knows what!
Keep reading because we’ll be looking at the benefits of creating easy meals from the pantry, easy strategies to cook this way 90% of the time, how to generate easy pantry recipes, and plan them into your dinner meal rotation. We’ll talk about doing your own Pantry Challenge and down aways on this post, you can click to get your own Magic Recipe Generator (from Quiet Hollow ?).
A Couple of Reasons to Cook from the Pantry
Once you start cooking from the pantry, you’ll notice the food budget will start shrinking. Of course, you’ll still be buying fresh fruit and produce (careful to not get too much) and occasionally meat (depending on how well the freezer and fridge are stocked). Having a plan will help the budget as well.
Food shopping can be fun, especially right now in the middle of our current ‘situation’. It’s a reason to go out! And sometimes fun is why there are more items in the cart. However, you might be opting to stay home and not stroll through the grocery aisles. Easy pantry meals will be even more essential for you. Of course, you can add the essentials to your on-line shopping list. And, the temptation to over shop isn’t quite as great online…maybe!
Using what you have and buying what you need will also help you cut back on waste. Additionally, keeping track of what you’ve got helps too. Waste is never a good thing. Pantry cooking will change that.
Last and maybe most importantly, this style of cooking will allow your creative side to flourish. What a blast it is to dream up your own unique recipe! Later in this post, you’ll get access to some tools to save your new creations. ?
The FREE Magic Pantry Recipe Generator…Grab it Here!
Easy Meals Pantry Cooking from what You’ve Got
Most of us who hang out here on Quiet Hollow have been stocking our pantries for several years (probably decades) and it’s likely we’re on top of what our ‘usuals’ are. I know I need rice and spaghetti, green beans and tuna, plenty of seasoning salt and garlic powder, plus lots of other staples. If you’re just starting on this easy pantry meals idea or you just want to make sure you have the basics on hand before you give this a try there are lots of Pantry Staples Lists around. Here’s a good one I’ve found from the Food Network that is quite comprehensive. I suggest printing it out and crossing out the things that don’t make sense for you and then using it to help guide your shopping.
Break Free from your Recipes
As we start this pantry cooking thing we’ll realize that we’re no longer cooking to the recipe. The recipe is working for us now! So, if we’ve checked out a recipe and realize there are ingredients we don’t have, we simply SUBSTITUTE or leave it out.
A suggestion would be to keep a generic list of your family’s and/or your favorites including cuisine, methods of cooking, comfort foods, and the good ol’ standbys. Remember these when you’re planning.
Those favorites will probably include a few recipes, (here’s a collection of My 5 Favorite Cookbooks that I like to browse through for ideas). Just remember to not be bound to the ingredient list. No running to the store for 2 of those ingredients! Remember that substituting plan? Use that instead and you’re on your way to a new creation. You might see a recipe made on a cooking show…more ideas. You can do the same with a restaurant meal. Come home and use the Copy Cat strategy. Jot your ideas down from the show and the restaurant, go to your kitchen and start creating!
Don’t Forget the Leftovers!
The first suggestion having to do with leftovers would be to have great storage containers. And, make sure they’re see-through (less chance they get forgotten in the fridge!). Which leads me to the next tip. Stay aware of what you’ve got.
Then, you can decide to use those 2nd or 3rd-day treasures as another shot for the main course, a side dish to a new meal or to morph it into something brand new. More creativity ?
Plan and Save Your Easy Meal Ideas
Now that you have all this knowledge, it’s time to get your plans down on paper or online. You can simply jot your easy pantry meal plans on your calendar or in your planner. Or, you can do what I do and add them to my favorite recipe app called Plan to Eat. It saves, sorts, stores, lets you plan out for the month, and it even creates a shopping list for you! It’s free for 30 days and then if you fall in love with it, there’s a reasonable membership fee.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Are you ready to embrace cooking easy pantry meals? We’ve considered several approaches to using up what we’ve got on hand in our pantries, freezers, and fridges. Is there one or more that make sense to you? Comment below and let’s get a conversation going.
If you’d like to take this whole concept to the next level, consider doing a Pantry Challenge. You can set one up for a couple of weeks, a month, or longer. There are several online, or you can simply set up your own. Most are with the idea of eating down your pantry and being frugal with your food budget.
The FREE Magic Pantry Recipe Generator…For You!
Some referral links are included in this post. If you click through and take action, I’ll be compensated with no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support in this way.
Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.