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Do you have a bulk foods storage area filled with foods that you aren’t sure what to do with? Here are some simple ideas!
How to Use Bulk Foods In Meals
One night I was hungry for supper, something fast and easy to put together but something fresh. I opened up the door to my cold storage area at the time, aka: my entryway, and found potatoes, onions, and oranges overflowing.
Breakfast for supper it was.
I shredded potatoes, diced onions, and shredded cheese and fried up some Cheesy Hashbrowns on my griddle. A glance in the freezer told me that I still have several homemade Beef Sausage Patties to use as well, so those get cooked up too.
The oranges were juiced and poured into some of those cute Mason jars with handles, a regular old cup just isn’t fancy enough for fresh juice tonight!
This meal was nothing special, and probably not the most perfect nutritious meal I could come up with. But it was fast, and I could use my ever-present bulk foods. Plus it tasted good and fresh!
Why Bulk Food Storage Meals
Of course, every meal that we make is a “bulk storage” meal for us since we only buy in bulk! But maybe sharing some simple ideas like this helps those who have been wondering to get a clearer picture of how easy and normal it is to cook from your bulk foods.
Sometimes it’s easy to look at those jars and buckets of food in the pantry or your cold storage area and be uninspired by what you can use to make them into a meal.
Tips for How to Figure Out Meal Ideas
Being able to meal plan helps to prevent on-the-fly nights like this one, but we are still able to make it work!
At the beginning of the week, plan out your meals for the entire week. Do this by sitting in your pantry or looking through your freezer and figuring out what needs to be used up first.
I also like to take a basket and pull out things that need to be used and put them on the counter in my kitchen. This way I focus on using those items in meals first.
Think uncomplicated food. In my example above, we used very simple foods to make a hearty little supper. It doesn’t need to be fancy; it just needs to feed the family and get them full.
Have a list of your favorite recipes to make. I use my Recipe Binder to keep track of all our favorite casseroles, meals for the slow cooker, ideas for batch cooking, and more simple weeknight meal ideas.
Make meals easier and quicker by always having staples on hand. These are the “meal-makers” that are typically used ingredients to make many different recipes. Here are a few that I always need:
These simple things can always make a delicious meal when paired with other things in my pantry, even if I’m in a hurry. For example, I could use the freezer rice and toss together a stir-fry in a few minutes with a homemade stir fry sauce and some frozen veggies or veggies from cold storage.
Other Ways to Use Bulk Foods
If you have purchased a large amount of something in bulk and find that it needs to be used up faster than you can get to it, try making some pre-made meals with it.
My favorites are freezer meals or, even better, use the foods in batch cooking. Both methods will create a meal that is ready to go (or a meal component that is ready to be added to, like meatballs) and will save you time in the kitchen later. Plus, you will eliminate food waste from your bulk food storage.
Quick Ways to Turn Bulk Into Meals
Sometimes you just feel like you need a fast meal, but all you have are ingredients. Here are some ideas on what to do!
Focus on the basics. Canned green beans with canned meat and a simple gravy is a very fast meal. Pair it with toast or freezer mashed potatoes if you have them. (Instant mashed potatoes are great too!)
Let the kids pick what they want to eat. I’m not saying that this will be the most nutritiously sound meal, but it will save you the hassle of deciding what to eat and… bonus points…the kids will eat it! We call this the supper game. They pick out several things from the pantry or freezer and we just eat that as our meal.
Make simple meals that can be made many different ways. Stir Fry is a great example of this. You can literally throw a bunch of veggies together on top of a starch with a sauce and call it a meal.
The other night I had some noodles to use up, so I cooked up ground beef, and made a simple sauce with oil, coconut aminos, molasses, and maple syrup. Then I cooked it all together with veggies. It was so easy and delicious! Took me about 15 minutes to put together.
Make soups. Many soups can be made with a wide variety of ingredients and don’t take long to cook in a Dutch Oven. My Frugal Tomato Soup is a perfect example of this. Only a handful of pantry ingredients, about 10 minutes, and you have a yummy meal.
What are some easy meals that you make with your bulk foods when you have no inspiration to cook?
Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple and frugal life on Little House Living since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.
This blog post on Making Meals from Bulk Foods was originally posted on Little House Living in November 2012. It has been updated as of November 2023.