Thrifty Thursday – Meal Planning Using The Pantry

Home Economics: Time for New Math

[simage=205,200,n,left] Lynn on the blog today. As I’ve been discussing grocery shopping and cost saving ideas with friends, I’ve noticed a recurring theme. “We need to use what we have.” What a novel concept and a great starting point. Most of us have what retailers call ‘back stock’ – shelves (slightly out of sight) with multiples of our favorite items.

On Sunday, I set the kitchen timer for one hour and became a woman with a plan to:

a. See what was already in the pantry and freezer
b. Develop a couple of menus based on existing food items
c. Create a bag for donation the local food bank

This was not a spring-cleaning session to match up Tupperware containers with lids and wipe down the shelves but rather time to loosely organize the pantry and take inventory.

It was illuminating to see what was already paid for and waiting to be used in my pantry: two bags of green split peas, a food warehouse container of pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, duplicate seasonings, multiple pasta selections, beans, rice, couscous – it’s a walk down memory lane of our food trends, favorites and whims.

New Math

Then inspiration stuck. I cleared out a small area in the pantry to assemble 5 meals or side dish ideas based on items in the pantry. I taped a post-it note to the combinations as a reminder of the meal and noted any additional items needed to complete the dish.

  1. Tomato sauce + spices + sun-dried tomatoes + Pillsbury Pizza Crust + cheese = semi-homemade pizza dinner
  2. Trader Joe’s Curry simmer sauce + frozen mixed vegetables = Indian veggie side dish
    (serve with the frozen chicken vindaloo and rice for a complete meal)
  3. Variety of beans + corn = chili
  4. Rice or noodles + canned salmon + cream of mushroom soup = comfort food
  5. Frozen broth & spinach + garbanzo beans + diced tomatoes + onion = Moroccan Chickpea Soup
  6. Split peas + frozen turkey broth + fresh carrots = comfort meal for friend who is sick

Now I have one less meal to shop for each week during the coming month. Finally, an investment that pays a dividend. My pantry! And there is more…in back stock.

Have a great week.

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