Just to be clear, I am usually a watchful eye of meals/groceries year round! However, during the months of January and February, in particular, I have a little challenge going on with myself. I see how many meals I can come up with using up the stash that I have in my pantry and freezers, supplementing with a few fresh ingredients, as needed. It gives me great joy to be able to go down to my pantry and see what I have and think of what I can do with that. Many of the meals are everyday ones….others get a little more creative. I thought it would be fun to give you some inspiration on “using up” what you may have on hand. Remember, I do can several hundred jars of items each year with a large garden and we also have our own cows and chickens.
So, here is a sampling of meals that we have come up with thus far into this new year! Most of these meals are simple, throw together meals, taking minimal time. I do use my crockpot several times a week for many of these, but they can also be made last minute using a skillet or stock pot.
- 1 lb. of browned hamburger
- 1 quart of canned tomatoes
- 1 quart of canned chili beans
- 1- 4 ounce can of diced green chilies
- seasonings as desired: cumin, chili powder, dried onion
Pour all ingredients in crockpot, add spices as desired. Cook for at least 6 hours on high.
- 1 bag of brown and serve rolls or English Muffins
- 1 pint of canned pizza sauce
- toppings you have on hand : pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, peppers, shredded cheese
Cut the rolls or muffins in half. Spoon on a small amount of pizza sauce. Top with your favorite toppings. I broil mine for 10-15 minutes in my toaster oven, but you could use your regular oven on broil or bake, until the cheese is melted.
Crockpot Leftover Potato Soup:
I had several leftover baked potatoes. I had made a crockpot full of baked potatoes the other day. (Just wash potatoes, wrap in foil, and put in the crockpot on low for 8 hours. Add a cupful of water on the bottom of the pot. They get done perfectly.)
To crockpot add in:
- leftover baked potatoes, diced
- diced fresh carrots, celery, and onion
- Enough chicken broth to cover the vegetables
Cook on low all day.
About an hour before serving add in any combination of cream, half and half, milk, cream cheese, and shredded cheese….enough to make your soup creamy
Ok…so back to using up what I have! I did order one Organic Bountiful Basket this month, so some of the vegetables I am using fresh from there.
Next I looked in my freezer and found that I had a bone-in ham that I had bought between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a great deal….on sale for 99cents a pound, plus I used an extra 20% off coupon from anything Safeway brand….this ham happened to be. We usually don’t eat pork products very often, but for the price and taste, this would be a nice change.
So, I ended up placing the whole ham in my crockpot to cook/warm. For supper that night we had the ham, oven “fried” potatoes and I sauteed up some swiss chard (from Bountiful Basket). Lots of leftover ham, a nice bone (for soup), and leftover potatoes.
To take a break from the ham, we decided to make this recipe for Korean Beef, modifying it, and using diced carrots and swiss chard for vegetables in the stir fry and we also used cube steak, sliced thin. I use only brown rice….so that is what we served it over. It was a huge hit!!
Ok…now back to the ham and using that up.
My family loves a good bean soup. I use up all the leftover of potatoes, carrots, rice, etc….to add into the basic bean soup recipe. You can use bean flour to thicken soups, if you would like. Here is information on making and using bean flours and some recipes using bean flour.
Another concoction that I came up using up some things in the frig was a twist on Stuffed Peppers. I had some bell peppers that needed to be used. I washed them up and cut them off at the top (for stuffing). I soaked 1 cup rice and 1 cup of dried beans overnight. The next morning, I rinsed them and placed them in a pot to boil with some water. I simmered them, together, for approximately 1 hour (or until they were close to being done). I had to drain a small amount of water off of them. In a separate bowl, I placed the bean/rice mixture, small pieces of leftover ham, small amount of minced onion, a tomato that I had that needed to be diced up, and some shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Mixed this together and stuffed it in 4 medium to large size peppers. I placed the stuffed peppers in my crockpot and added about 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pot. Cook on low for 8 hours.
This is just a quick sampling of using up what you have. Get creative! Put a twist on your tried and true recipes, using basics or what you already have on hand. It isn’t always necessary to follow recipes…to a T!
If you are challenging yourself (and your budget) to use up what you have, please share what you are doing to accomplish that. If you are interested in seeing more “throw together” meals and ideas, let us know…..we like to hear from you!!