Throughout life there are occasional reasons that cause the need to cook from your pantry and freezer. In this particular moment in time I and I assume, many of you are finding yourself in the position to utilize your pantry and freezer. This list of Meals You Can Make with Pantry and Freezer Ingredients is a great resource to give you ideas on how to utilize the ingredients you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry.
I am also including a list of foods that are great to have on hand because they can last 2-4 weeks. Right now my family is home bound, like many of you. We are on day 2. I made a huge effort to get what we would need to comfortably last 2-4 weeks without going to the grocery store. We have enough food in our house to last longer than that…but after four weeks it will definitely get less exciting. We don’t have a lot of freezer space so I had to be selective about what freezer items to buy. I mostly filled it with frozen vegetables and meats. There was only room for one carton of ice cream. 🙁
what will last 2-4 weeks:
Of course canned foods and things like dry beans, legumes and rice will last much longer than 2-4 weeks. Anything that can be put in the freezer will also last much longer than two to four weeks…but what about fresh fruits and vegetables…
There are actually quite a few fruits and vegetables that will last 2-4 weeks in the fridge or even out of the fridge. Here are the things I stocked up on knowing they would last and that they would be worked into meals:
- Bell Peppers, onions, fresh garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, cucumbers (usually last about 2 weeks), zucchini (usually lasts about 2 weeks), cabbage.
- Oranges, mandarins, apples, grapes (will last about 2 weeks), banana’s (once brown I freeze for smoothies or banana bread). I also bought some strawberries, but I knew we would need to use those in the first 3-4 days.
- I bought A LOT of shredded cheese and tortillas, they last at least 2-4 weeks in the fridge and can also be frozen if you have room in your freezer.
- Sour cream, cream cheese and heavy whipping cream are ingredients I use often. I bought extra of these also. Cream cheese can be kept in the fridge for a long time. The expiration date is almost always a month or two out from when I buy it. Sour cream and heavy cream can be frozen and taken out later to use in recipes. …check the expiration dates though…you might not need to freeze them.
- I also like to make sure I have plenty of diced tomatoes and canned beans. A lot of the foods my family likes and is familiar with have diced tomatoes and or canned beans in them.
- And DO NOT FORGET THE TREATS! Don’t underestimate how much you (and everyone in your family) will want comfort food during this time. Make sure you are mindful of what keeps everyone in your house happy. I stocked up on corn chips, salsa, chocolate chips, Easter candy, and my kids favorite cereals and potato chips.
The amount of chocolate chips and marshmallows I have in my house right now is almost laughable…but I’m not taking any chances.
During the next few weeks I am going to post what we eat for lunch and dinner on my Instagram, I hope this might give you inspiration for how to use that ground beef in the freezer or zucchini in the fridge that is about to go bad. I would love to see what you are making too…I love getting new ideas for what to make for dinner.
Before I get to sharing the meals you can make with pantry and freezer ingredients, I want to share some tips for how to use your food wisely during this time.
Last night I was going to make pork chops but realized we still had a large amount of leftover Pineapple Salsa Chicken, from a few nights ago. I decided to make rice to serve it over, bust out one of the five bags of corn chips I grabbed before quarantine and finish off the leftovers. I will save the pork chops for another night this week. Here is my advice:
1. Look at what you have in your fridge that is perishable
- Take stock of what you have in your fridge, how long until it will go bad?
- Is it something that could be prepped and frozen for future use or do you need to use it in x days?
- What could you use random fruits and vegetables for so they don’t go to waste? Smoothies, mixed roasted veggies, a snackie lunch? (we call, mom throwing random things onto a cutting board, a snackie lunch..usually includes some combination of fruits, veggies, cheese, meat, pickles, olives, nuts…whatever I have and want to get rid of.)
2. Take an inventory of your meat or protein sources
- What proteins do you have on hand? Cans of Tuna, chili, cheese, chicken, beef, beans, legumes? Make a list of all of these and cross them off as you use them up.
- Ask yourself, “Can I reduce the amount of meat I am using in my favorite recipes?” Most recipes are not affected by reducing the amount of meat. When using ground beef you can add shredded carrot, zucchini, spinach, celery, potatoes, onion, even a small handful of quick oatmeal to make it go further in recipes like spaghetti, sloppy joes, taco’s ect…In taco’s another great way is to add beans to the meat.
- Try to prepare recipes that don’t have meat as the shining star. When possible use meat to enhance the meal, not to be the meal. This will help it go much further.
3. Make a plan
- Once you have inventoried your meat, inventory the rest of your freezer and your pantry too.
- Use that information to write out a two week plan for meals. If you’re like me and don’t like to feel tied down to a certain thing each day, make a list of meals you have everything for and then you can pick what sounds good each day.
If you aren’t used to cooking from your pantry it can be overwhelming to plan meals using those ingredients. I have many recipes on my site that are simple, easy, delicious and use ingredients you most likely have in your pantry and fridge/freezer right now. I hope this list will be helpful and give you some good ideas for recipes your family can enjoy together during this unprecedented time we are experiencing.
Also, you can type a specific ingredient into the search bar on my site and any of my recipes that have that ingredient in them will come up for you to look through.
Here are my favorite picks for recipes you can make with pantry and freezer ingredients.