Have you joined the challenge yet? If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.
The other day I took an inventory of the contents in my freezer and pantry. Here’s what I found.
6 ½ bags frozen chicken
3 pkg. pork burgers
2 pork sausage
1 small pork tenderloin
1 ham bone from Thanksgiving
1 big pack hamburger
a few meatballs
cooked chicken for casserole
1 loaf Depression Era Bread
3 bags of cherries, from a friend
1 fillo dough
a little cooked bacon
5 bags All Purpose Flour (25 lbs)
1 bag Whole Wheat Flour – past date
3 bags sugar
1 brown sugar
3 lbs. powdered sugar
4 boxes crackers
3 cans pumpkin
3 cans cream of chicken soup
5 cans tomato soup
4 beef broth
6 chicken broth + 1 box
5 diced tomato
2 tomato sauce and 2 paste
assorted amounts of rice, noodles, lentils, beans, stuffing mix…
This is not a complete list of what I found, but it represents the things that I had forgotten about, or have more than I need. I used the list to come up with a menu.
1. Ham and beans with cornbread (using the ham bone and bag of beans from pantry)
2. Chicken and Dressing Casserole with Broccoli.
3. Vietnam Fried Rice with just peas instead of peas and carrots
4. Spaghetti and Meatballs with homemade sauce
5. Pork Tenderloin with Hashbrown Casserole and broccoli
6. Sausage Calzones or French Bread Pizza (we had the calzones last night)
7. Chicken breaded with instant mash potatoes (to use up what’s left of those)
8. Chicken and Dumplings
1) Leftovers – this is our most common lunch
2) Noodles in broth with canned chicken
3) Tomato Soup with Depression Era Bread and melted cheese
1) Cherry Cobbler/Pie
2) Coconut Cream Pie/tarts
3) Peanut Butter Pie
Not too bad, huh? I’m sure the second week of doing this would get a bit more interesting. And you can see that I’m going to have to buy some vegetables. I only have some peas, corn and a bag of broccoli. Not enough to get us through.
Tips on putting your menu together
1) Sometimes as you look at what you have, ideas will naturally come to you. This happened for me when I realized I had a ham bone and a bag of beans. The cooked chicken and stuffing mix were another natural combination. I also have a jar of Hoisin Sauce and a can of water chestnuts that seem a likely pair.
2) Concentrate on using up the items you have the most of. For me, it is chicken and flour. I don’t know why I have 25 lbs. of flour, but I do know I’ll be doing some baking this week. No need to buy store bought bread when I’ve got flour to make my own.
3) Get a bit creative with substituting ingredients. I only have 2 cans of tomato sauce, but I also have tomato paste and diced tomatoes. If I add water to the paste, I can use it for sauce. I’ve never tried it, but I think if I put the diced tomatoes in a blender, it will make sauce. I’ll do it if I need to.
4) Have a strange ingredient to use? Do a search online to find recipes that use it. My “strange” ingredient is the box of Idaho Spuds I bought for Coconot cookies. I don’t use instant potatoes, so I needed to find a recipe. The back of the box came through for me.
Share with me
What did you find in your freezer or pantry? What kind of menu are you able to come up with? Do you need help brainstorming ideas? Let’s share in the comments section.
And if anyone has a great idea for the Hoisin Sauce, water chestnuts, rice and chicken let me know. It seems that those ingredients are the start of something yummy!