Something From Nothing
We’ve been working on our budget for 2009…and we’re going back to my favorite method. Cash budget! Using cash only really helps me when I’m at the grocery store. I pay MUCH closer attention to what I’m putting in my cart, I look for the specials, menu plan ahead of time, etc. Love it. I’m always up for a good challenge, and when I know that I only have X amount in my wallet, I’m thrilled when I don’t spend it all 🙂
With that said, I’ve been taking inventory of my pantry to see how long we could go without going on a major grocery run. I made a big list of all the ingredients I had on hand and also all the meals I could make. I came up with 9 meals out of “nothing”! Yay! One of the meals I came up with is the one you see above.
Here are the things I had to work with:
- A big bag of quinoa: I love quinoa because it cooks so much faster than brown rice and it has such a high protein level. I made twice as much as I needed and then put the rest in the fridge for another day.
- Broccoli (I found a big Costco bag of it in the bag of the fridge…sometimes I get a little over zealous and think that we will eat it all, but we never do. So even though some of it was getting mushy, most of it was good. I picked out enough for this meal and then put the rest of it into freezer bags for other meals.
- Snap peas: I used some of this bag of peas for something quite awhile ago, but amazingly, they were still totally fresh and yummy. I love snap peas, so I was thrilled.
So, I have these ingredients, and I decide to whip up some stir-fry. I like my stir fry to have a little kick, so I Googled a sauce recipe to loosely follow and oh my…it was delish. I squeezed some fresh orange juice from some OLD (but apparently still good) oranges in the pantry, added some fresh ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce…and poured it on top of the veggies while it sauteed. Healthy, tasty…cheap!
Normally, I would have added tofu to this and probably some shitake mushrooms as well. But because I had taken inventory of what I had, I knew I wanted to keep those things for my miso soup recipe later. Being that the quinoa is so high in protein, it was a well-rounded meal without those things.
Here are more of my favorite “something from nothing” pantry meals:
- Pancakes: I always make my own (basic vegan recipe from “How it all Vegan”) and love to top it with whatever I have on hand. My favorite is peanut butter, bananas, and pure maple syrup. If we have have blueberries on hand, I will mix those into the batter…but you could also use thawed frozen berries as well. More topping ideas: walnuts, applesauce, any nut butters, the possibilites are endless.
- Eggs: If you’re not vegan…eggs are a great cheap option for quick protein. We LOVE hard boiled eggs, but often make egg sandwiches or just scramble them.
- Beans and Rice: Can’t forget this pantry staple. You can dress this up in so many ways it’s ridiculous. Put it into a tortilla, or top it with veggies, add some sweet thai chili sauce…yum.
- Curries: I try to keep several cans of coconut milk on hand…and as long as I have some rice, curry powder or paste, and frozen veggies, I have a meal.
- Baked potatoes: Bake a bunch of taters and top them with shredded cheese, beans, salsa…whatever you have on hand.
- Soup and bread/muffins: You can make a soup from pretty much anything! I keep the all natural veggie bouillon cubes in my pantry at all times so I can have an instant broth. Add whatever veggies and beans you have on hand and some herbs voila! Soup! Throw it on the table with some homemade bread or quick corn muffins and it’s a perfect meal.
I’m sure I’m not the only one watching my budget carefully right now…what is your favorite pantry meal?
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