Two Weeks of Pantry and Freezer Meals
Now that you have a list of everything for a well-stocked freezer and pantry, you need some ideas for what to do with it! Work to start with fresh ingredients and produce stocked in your refrigerator. Make a big batch of vegetable soup and freeze it in serving sizes that work for you. Have basil or greens on the verge of going bad? Make a batch of pesto (without the avocado in this version) and freeze for later. Look at what you have and use up the things that will go bad first. In my family, that means a monster batch of guacamole is coming our way very soon.
As always, let me know if you have cooking or substitution questions. If you have an ingredient to use up and don’t know how, email me! I’m here to help! Preferably leave a comment below, or feel free to DM me on Instagram (where I spend way too much time). I hope it will give you ideas and inspiration for what to make at home.
And as I’ve linked in Instagram stories this week, I hope you all will help donate to your local food pantry. My focus in Houston has been on Kids Meals and I plan to drop a box of extra pantry provisions to the Houston Food Bank. Nationally, No Kid Hungry is another great non-profit working to feed our country’s hungry youth. Serving others, whether with our time, finances or donations of goods, is a great way to shift focus away from ourselves and ease anxieties. Big virtual hugs to you all!
Kale and White Bean Minestrone
Use up any vegetables you have in the fridge that are past their prime. If you don’t have chicken or vegetable stock, water will work just fine. This is absolutely versatile: Use frozen broccoli. Leave out the cabbage. Use any type of green or bean. Basically its a template for a really rich and flavorful vegetable stew.
Versatile Vegetable Soup
This is another great template for using up leftover vegetables in your crisper. Use fresh or frozen vegetables, and thicken the soup with orzo or small macaroni noodles.
Instant Pot Black Beans (or Pinto)
Dried black or pinto beans are perfectly suited for your Instant Pot. Make a batch of these delicious black beans — extras freeze perfectly!
Black Bean Soup
Leftover Instant Pot Black Beans? Make this spicy and delicious black bean soup. So tasty!
Beans in General
I don’t think I could ever tire of wholesome and flavorful bowls of beans, and good thing there are 86 recipes linked above. I’m starting with the white bean and chorizo chili or mixed bean salad with tomato vinaigrette.
Muffin-Tin Spinach and Mushroom Quiche
I have a TON of eggs in my refrigerator right now, so I’ll make a batch of these and freeze some for breakfasts down the road. My people don’t love mushrooms, so I may use cooked bacon or ham instead. If you don’t have gruyere, feel free to substitute shredded jack or cheddar or some crumbled goat cheese.This is a perfectly suitable breakfast-for-dinner recipe as well!
Tofu Stir Fry
Ok, I know most of you don’t have a chunk of tofu sitting in your fridge, but I do and need to use it up! This tofu and bok choy recipe looks delicious (I might make it as soon as I’m done with this post). Feel free to sub another green for the bok choy. Or if you don’t have udon, use spaghetti. Or sub chicken breast for the tofu. I don’t have the red chili, so I’m just leaving that out. I happen to have ginger, but if you don’t have fresh, don’t be tempted to sub dried. Just leave it out.
Mexican Rice Casserole
Sounds like something you could make on a Sunday and eat all week long. If you don’t have the zucchini or red pepper, feel free to leave them out! I’m opting to leave out the corn since I don’t have any, but I might sub some green chilies which I happen to have in spades in my pantry. Add a cup or two of shredded chicken to this and you have a one-pot dinner!
Rice in General
I love this Bon Appetit recipe (linked above) with 71 ways to use rice. From chicken and rice soup to risi e bisi, there’s lots to dive into here!
You can make this easy enchilada casserole with shredded chicken, ground turkey or beef. Or leave out the meat altogether and just use pinto or black beans.
This is something you could make in 1,000 variations from pantry ingredients. Serve with quesadillas or grilled cheese on the side, naturally. Add a jar of roasted red peppers to the recipe above, or made roasted red pepper-tomato soup.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
Speaking of tomatoes, you can make a basic homemade tomato sauce for pasta. This freezes well if you want to batch cook a double recipe. Or make Marcella Hazan’s famous 4-ingredient tomato sauce recipe.
Use that ground beef stashed in your freezer for weeknight bolognese or Marcella Hazan’s bolognese recipe.
Canned Tomatoes in General
I love anything with tomatoes. As I kid, I’d pick fresh tomatoes out of salads and eat them before the salad bowl hit the table. I loveeeee all the ideas in here, but starting with the pasta e fagioli.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
I keep my freezer stocked with cauliflower and kale pesto from TJ’s, and it’s delicious with this sauce. But you could also use this food processor sauce with cooked cheese or spinach tortellini, penne or spaghetti.
Leave out the Italian sausage if you don’t have it on hand (or if you want to make this vegetarian). Leave out the mozzarella and just top with some grated Parmesan, or keep the cheese off entirely. Frozen spinach can be used instead of fresh, just decrease frozen spinach by half because it’s more tightly packed.
Delicious with roast chicken, steaks or just simple tomato sauce, a quick polenta can be made from almost any type of course ground cornmeal (just not finely ground corn flour). Sub chicken stock for the water for extra flavor.
Salsa Verde Chicken
Use frozen boneless chicken breasts or thighs to make this easy taco filling. If you ever run out of tortillas, it’s super easy to make them at home with pantry ingredients. There are flour, corn and gluten-free varieties.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Speaking of chicken, make a batch of homemade chicken noodle soup sooner than later. Stash leftovers in your freezer. I love this version made with a whole chicken and this quick version and this one that uses chicken thighs. If you don’t have egg noodles, substitute orzo or any tube or fusilli pasta.
Chickpea Tuna Salad
This will definitely be happening for lunch or a light dinner this week. I add any fresh herbs I have on hand. Or make salmon croquettes or salmon salad. Generally, if you’re missing a couple of the herb or veggie ingredients it’s fine to leave them out.
Frozen Fruit Recipes
Make smoothies, healthy homemade jam or berry cobbler.
Frozen Veggie Recipes
Make an easy veggie stir fry, roasted frozen broccoli or creamed spinach with parmesan cheese.
Sometimes we need a treat that packs a healthy punch. Feel free to sub almost any dried fruit (dried cherries, diced dried apricots or dried raisins).
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you don’t have molasses for these, simply leave it out. I prefer raisins in my oatmeal cookies, which you could definitely sub here. Or follow this recipe.
Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies
Anxiety baking gives me life! I have made hundreds of chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years, and this one is my most recipe favorite.
Thanks for the great ideas! Quick question: my instant pot doesn’t have a poultry setting…what should I use instead?
If you want, text me a screen shot of your settings and remind me your looking for a poultry sub. You could also do manual for 15-20 mins and that should work!