Meals from the Food Pantry
One thing I loved about my learning to cook from my mom was that she could make an amazing meal out of anything! When I had my first baby, she came to stay for a while and helped out with cooking and cleaning. I can’t even express in words how great it felt to have some of the amazing meals she made for me while I was recovering (from a C section)! It wasn’t just the physical taste of the meals, it was emotionally uplifting.
Now that she’s retired and has a very limited income, she goes to a food pantry every week to help with groceries. Some of the last few times I’ve been to visit, she’s made such tasty meals with the limited items she gets! I thought it might be a good idea to help others learn how to make a meal out of whatever random food you’d pick up at your local food bank.
If you went to Assumption Catholic Church this week for their free food pantry, here’s what you might’ve picked up:
They also had some turkeys left over from Christmas that they were giving away! My family did tamales for Christmas; we haven’t had a turkey since Thanksgiving. It sounded pretty good!
Want to know all the neat stuff you could make? Check it out!
- Turkey dinner! If you don’t have stuffing, you could use the Rice O Roni that you got and canned green beans! Mashed potatoes? Sure! Be sure you make complete use of that turkey – boil the spine and guts for soup (or broth for something else). Here are some recipes that could help you:
2. If you have a small family, or just don’t want to cook a whole turkey at once, you could cut it into pieces and cook them separately. In fact, last Thanksgiving I cooked my turkey flat (by taking out the spine first) and it only took ~2 hours instead of all day! Substitute for any of your favorite chicken recipes! Check out these recipes that might help you:
3. Use the bread, peanut butter, jelly, and all those snack bags to pack your kids lunches over the next week! Don’t have kids? Pack yourself a lunch! Make it fun with a cookie cutter:
4. Ramen soup! When I was in my young adult days, I became a PRO at cooking ramen! In fact, I’ve almost started a page dedicated to ramen recipes! One of my favorite ways to eat ramen is by adding it to a can of soup! Pour the soup into a pot on the stove, add ramen, plus any veggies you want, and enjoy! Want more ramen recipe ideas? Try mixing and matching these items:
* Diced tomato
* Squeezed lime
* Your favorite hot sauce
* Hot dog
* Broccoli (or any other veggies you have)
* Diced deli meat
5. Spaghetti – Could be as simple as boiling the noodles and adding sauce, or you could spice it up. I prefer to make my sauce with meat. I cook the meat first, adding in onions, bell peppers, bay leaves, and seasonings. I add a bit of sugar with mine, to compliment the savory spices. I also add my tomatoes in while the meat is cooking. Once the meat is done cooking, drain if necessary, then add your tomatoes and sauce. I will either cut fresh tomatoes or just use a large can of petite diced tomatoes and a large can of tomato sauce. Use whatever you have; if you have tomato paste, throw that in with some water. If you need some recipes, check these out (but remember that if you use that can of pre-made sauce, you’ll need less seasonings):
6. Mexican food! This is vague intentionally because when you have the ingredients to make Mexican food, you usually can make whatever you want. Tacos, burritos, tostadas, taquitos, flautas, enchiladas… With that can of green chiles, the rice, taco seasoning, and the purchase of some tortillas, anything is possible! Here are some ideas to get you started:
7. Take a day off from cooking all these meals and warm up those shells & cheese or one of the cans of spaghetti! You deserve a break! Add some protein to it and make some tuna mac (mixed with the shells). That tuna could also just be mixed with some noodles to make a casserole.
8. Goulash – My mom made the best when I was growing up! Use some meat (hamburger, ground turkey, pork sausage, etc.)… cook the mean on the stove. Place in the bottom of an oven-safe casserole dish, add some veggies (corn and green beans are my fav), then mashed potatoes on top. If you have some cheese, sprinkle some on. Bake it in the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt, then serve!
- All those samples of shampoo and body wash might not seem like much as they are, but try making a salt or sugar scrub with them! Not only is it better for your skin, it’ll help them last longer! Here’s what you do: find a container that has an air-tight lid. I like plastic food storage containers myself. Fill it about 3/4 of the way full of sugar (or epsom salt works well), then pour some shampoo or body wash on top. Mix it in with a butter knife, then check the consistency. Add more sugar or shampoo as needed to make it the right consistency. Now that sample body wash is going to last you MUCH longer!
And there you have it – a week’s worth of meals from the pantry! Please let me know what you think by commenting; questions & feedback are welcome!