Raid the Pantry

Anyone else feel like their kitchen creativity is at 3000% during quarantine?

Being cooped up at home is giving me all kinds of inspiration to try new recipes and think outside the box. And a perk of only going to the grocery store every couple of weeks is that I’ve perfected the art of scrounging and raiding the pantry.

In an attempt to be more resourceful, I’ve found creative ways to use more of the things I have on hand to create delicious meals. Rather than going to the grocery store every other day, I’m going once every two weeks for essentials. I polled some friends and family from Facebook to find some creative kitchen hacks that they’ve found to be helpful during this season, and here are some of their responses!

COFFEE CREAMER

Invest in a milk frother from Amazon, and your morning coffee will have this creamy latte-like texture without adding tons of extra calories. For $12.99, this is a great investment in upping your coffee game. Dilute your coffee creamer with almond milk to cut sugar and calories and make your creamer last longer so you use less!

BREAKFAST FOR DINNER

Use whatever ingredients you have on hand and get to getting! Eggs, pancakes, waffles, quiches, bacon, cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit… Next time you are at the store, grab some bacon or turkey sausage to freeze so you’re always prepared to make this crowd-pleaser.

VEGAN TIPS

from Valentina Warne, “The Baking Fairy”

“One of my favorite tips for stretching coconut milk is to buy full fat and use half at a time + water! Lite coconut milk is just watered down full fat coconut milk anyway. That way you get two cans’ worth for your money Also as a vegan I always save the liquid from canned chickpeas and use it for baking as a vegan egg substitute!”

The technical term for the water that’s in canned chickpeas is aquafaba, meaning ‘water bean.’ Little did I know there are TONS of recipes associated with this stuff. You use it as an egg substitute to make things like meringue, chocolate mousse, butter, mayo, bread, crepes… Seriously, my mind is being blown right now!

A Guide to Aquafaba via Bob’s Red Mill

PICK AN INGREDIENT

from Rachel Miller

“I’ve been googling recipes for a random pantry ingredient and then making a recipe based on that. Also, utilizing all the things I have trying to be creative with using up all the bits of things (bananas to banana bread, zucchini to bread, etc…maybe I’m on a bread kick )!”

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread via Kitchy Living
Healthier Banana Bread via Kitchy Living

SOURDOUGH BREAD & DISCARD

from Meredith Whitfield

“I got into sourdoughs about a month before this all started — when you feed a starter you have to discard a portion of it, so i freeze all my discard and eventually use it in a discard loaf or in pizza crust!

Discard Loaf Recipe:
It’s basically a 1, 2, 3 bread: the 1 is the weight of however much discard you’re using (say 100g, for ease), the 2 is the water (so you’d use 200g), and the 3 is the flour (so you’d use 300g)!
I supplement with 1 teaspoon of commercial yeast and 1 Tablespoon of salt dissolved in some of the water. Mix it all up, do about 6 stretch-and-folds spaced 30 minutes apart, shape ya loaf, rise her overnight in the fridge, then bake her: place inside a preheated dutch oven and bake at 450 for like 40 mins, uncover, then continue to bake until the internal temp is like 220ish.

Homemade Sourdough Starter and Bread via Restore Your Radiance

HOMEMADE VEGGIE STOCK

from Danielle Eben

“I save all of my veggie scraps in the freezer and then make veggie stock in my instant pot. I freeze most of it in ice cubes and use it as I need it.”

Waste not, want not! Love this idea for bringing new life to discarded items. Wish I’d thought of it myself!

Homemade Vegetable Broth via The Domestic Dietician
Instant Pot Vegetable Stock via Bon Appétit

FREEZER TIPS

from Sally Phillips

“Organize your freezer by category, and then start freezing everything! I do delivery every 10 days, so I cook a lot of my produce in the first 5 and then freeze those ingredients (not meals) so that I’m not having the same thing every night. I also freeze my vegetable scraps and make my own vegetable broth when the container gets full. Certain greens are more resilient than others—kale lasts forever. Cherry tomatoes don’t go bad as quickly as cut up regular ones in my experience.”

TAKE INVENTORY

from Beth Snyder

“At the beginning of the quarantine, I made a list of the main ingredients in our pantry, fridge and freezer. Then I made a second list of ideas for breakfast-lunch- dinner options. We committed to only shop every two weeks, so it’s been fun to make our go-to dishes, as well as “how can we make dinner with…” Our Asian meatballs bowl has been one of our favorite “new” dishes!”

If you Google “Kitchen Inventory List,” you will come across tons of great resources and printables for keeping inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry. I have honestly never done this before, and I’m getting inspired to because it’s such a great way to use what you have when you know what’s on hand. I think we all could use some help in being better stewards of what we have!

HOMEMADE STIR FRY

from Katie Hammond, @strongersaferbeauty

“I’ve been making some stir fry + ramen noodles. It has been soooo tasty to me! Broccoli, bell pepper, onion, chicken and some sauce with the noodles is heavenly. And SO fast and easy.”

Easy Ramen Stir Fry via Spend with Pennies

HOMEMADE HUMMUS

from Darby Todd

“I love to homemade hummus.. it goes so far and is more economical! Love that you can use it for veggies, crackers or as a sandwich spread. Sometimes I’ll make chicken shawarma and just use hummus as the base! To make: I keep tahini paste, lemon juice and jarred minced garlic in the fridge at all times and then just keep the cupboard stocked with canned chick peas (or black beans). And then I add allllllll the spices. So easy to make in a food processor and one can of chick peas yields so much hummus!”

Best Hummus (with Variations) via Cookie + Kate

GET BACK TO THE BASICS

from Emily Sarver

“Don’t forget about the basic meals like cereal and PB&J. They go a long way! Also Trader Joes meatballs with brocolli and marinara is always easy.”

I linked some recipes to elevated PB&J sandwiches below, including a Grilled PB&J with Bacon, Apple, & Pomegranate and a Strawberry PB&J Quesadilla!

Fancy PB&J Sandwiches via Shape

I love the fact that this season of uncertainty has encouraged so many of us to step outside our comfort zone, get creative, and try to find new rhythms. Whether you’re experimenting more in the kitchen or trying to make your dollar go further, I’m proud of you for trying. Just remember: we are all in this together!

What kitchen hacks have you discovered during quarantine?
Comment below!

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