Pamela will be sharing more in our Together, But Apart Instagram series, but until then she’s shared these tips with us on how to best utilize what’s on hand to build inspired, healthy meals. Grab a pad and take notes. No trips to the grocery store required.
How To Cook With What You Have On Hand
It’s a stressful time for everyone right now, and many of us have the additional challenge of feeding the whole family (or even just ourselves) three meals a day and snacks every day — all with limited access to food. I have chosen to stay home and not grocery shop, to adhere to the current recommendations for keeping everyone healthy. But, also, I truly do have enough food to get by. Do I have every ingredient for every recipe? Of course not. But with an open mind and a little creativity, I can still create healthful, balanced meals for my family.
Here are some tips that are helping me cook with what I have:
Know What’s There | Take inventory of what you have. Familiarize yourself with everything in the fridge, freezer and pantry. Toss out anything spoiled or inedible.
Prioritize | Identify foods that need to be used quickly and work your first meals around those.
Meal Plan | Plan meals around what you actually have versus what you’re in the mood for.
Be flexible | Just because you don’t have an ingredient doesn’t mean you can’t make the recipe. The most forgiving recipes are soups, salads, stir-fries, fries, frittatas/omelets and pastas, to name a few. When making substitutions, just try to swap foods that have similar cook times, or you’ll have to adjust the recipe slightly. Reach out to the recipe’s author if you’re not sure.
Do-It-Yourself | DIY meals are very easy. Consider “Bowl Night”. Make dinner bowls with roasted vegetables, a protein (cooked legumes or animal protein), a grain or cauliflower rice, and an easy sauce to pull it all together. Other DIY meals I have been enjoying are chopped salads, tacos, pizza (I use French bread, tortillas or naan as a base).
Don’t Forget Spice | Look to your spice rack to add quick flavor boosts to protein, vegetables and soups or to change up the flavor profile in a recipe that you have made with success.
Keep it simple | Not every meal has to be perfect or the best thing you’ve ever eaten. You’d be surprised how delicious rice is cooked with water, salt, a little oil or butter and a crushed garlic clove. Fold in frozen peas and some sautéed vegetables, and you have a meal. Add some herbs if you have them or a dash of hot sauce or a fried egg.