Save Yourself a Grocery Trip – Extend Your Meals and Ingredients

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With everyone wanting to go out as little as possible these days, especially in potentially crowded places like the supermarket, I thought I would share with you some ideas to extend your ingredients and make your meals work double duty so you can make less frequent food shopping runs. I have been trying to make dishes and treats that we can get a few days out of so that we’re not only covered for dinners but for lunches too! Anything we cannot finish, we simply vacuum seal and save for another time. Also, it’s a good idea to plan meals ahead of time so that you can get as much use as possible out of your opened or perishable ingredients such as stocks, sauces and produce. The more food and ingredients you can conserve the less frequently you’ll have to schlep to the stores and risk possible exposure to COVID-19. Stay well everyone!

Fresh Vegetables – Don’t less fresh veggies go to waste! Wash them, dice them and then freeze to use a later time when cooking! Have leftover bits from other recipes? Toss them together into an egg frittata!

Fresh Fruit – Before your fruit gets too overripe wash them, dice and freeze. They work perfectly in smoothies, thawed into yogurt or even in some baked desserts!

Lemons and Limes – Citrus almost on the way out? Don’t toss them! Instead make a batch of homemade lemonade or limeade. Click here for an easy and delicious recipe! Trust me, you will never drink store-bought juice again. You can also juice them all, place the juice into small freezer bags or ice cube trays and freeze to use at a later time when cooking.

Eggs – Got leftover egg whites from a recipe? Make mini egg white omelets in a muffin pan and store in the fridge for an easy, quick breakfast. Have a lot of egg whites? Make an angel food cake! Leftover egg yolks? Try your hand at custards, homemade French vanilla ice cream, chocolate pudding, lemon curd, etc.

Soups (vegetable, chicken, etc.) – After serving for dinner, portion the remainder out in individual, freezer safe bowls and freeze. When you or the kids need a quick lunch simply defrost them in the microwave and serve hot with crackers!

Tomato Sauce – Make a big batch in one shot and use some for pasta, freeze the rest in smaller portions to pull out for appetizer bites like mozzarella sticks, pasta at a later date or even homemade pizzas. Making your own sauce is not only easy and WAY more delicious than any store-bought sauce but it’s also far more cost effective too. Check out my recipe for Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce .

Homemade Chili – Make a big batch of this cheap, easy and delicious meal. Serve it the first night with Fritos®, the individual bags are great as you can scoop the chili right into them! The second night serve it over hot dogs topped with cheese and onions. Freeze what is left and use it another day to make loaded nachos.

Arancini (Rice Ball) Casserole – This recipe is AMAZING and it’s as good leftover for lunch as it was fresh from the oven. Use any leftover meat mixture, mozzarella or sauce to make homemade meat lovers pizzas! Check out the SkinnyTaste recipe here: Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole

Mashed Potatoes – Leftover mashed potatoes are PERFECT for homemade potato croquettes. Get the recipe here . You can also use leftover mashed potatoes from one meal to make a Shepard’s Pie for another. They also work great to thicken soups and sauces!

Leftover Pizza Dough – Cut into strips, fry in a little butter and toss with cinnamon and sugar. You can even use it to make homemade pretzels, calzones, or even monkey bread!

Breadcrumbs – Run out? Don’t let your stale breads and rolls go to waste. Instead, toss them into your food processor, grind up and store in an airtight container. Another delicious option for breadcrumbs is Doritos®, saltine crackers, pretzels or crackers. They make awesome “breadcrumbs” as they add extra flavor and texture to your food.

Wine – Got leftover wine? Freeze into cubes, throw in a plastic bag and use the next time you’re making a dish that calls for wine.

Cakes and Bakes – Got leftover frosting from your homemade cake? The next day make a tray of brownies, cookies or even cinnamon rolls and use the remaining frosting to make those desserts extra decadent. Also, certain frostings such as buttercream will freeze well so you can even save them for another time.

Cookies – Double your batches of cookie dough to bake cookies now AND later! Got random bags of chocolate chips that aren’t enough to use in one recipe? Combine into one container and use as you would in any cookie recipe. Leftover chocolate candy? Break it up and make “monster cookies” packed with extra yumminess.

Bread/Muffins/Rolls – Don’t throw out any bread, muffins, rolls you haven’t gotten to . Wrap tightly in plastic wrap then foil and freeze. When needed, let thaw at room temperature or warm in the oven. Also, stale bread is perfect for Overnight French Toast. Try this easy and delicious recipe for your next Sunday brunch!

Homemade Waffles and Pancakes – Make big batches and freeze to use later, they are so much better than the processed junk in the stores. Waffles also make an awesome sweet treat, toast one up until crispy and top with creamy ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry. It’s the perfect sundae!

 

 

 

Pantry and Fridge Essentials

How did you just whip that up?”

It’s the one comment I get over and over again. People always seem surprised that on any given day I’m able to pull together a from scratch dessert or a quick dinner. My response, it’s SO simple to do when you have a well stocked pantry and fridge. Seriously. That is literally all there is to it. If you keep a healthy stock of the basics on hand you will be shocked by just how many dishes you’re able to pull together without having to make a list and run off to the supermarket.

So let’s jump into it. Below is a list of items that I find to be essential in my pantry/freezer/fridge. This list isn’t written in stone so depending on your likes and needs, adjust it so that it works for you. I know the list sounds like a lot but I’m sure many of you already have *most* of these things on hand, just fill in the gaps with the essentials that you’re missing. Once you stock up, you’ll be good to go for quite some time. Most of these items I’m not buying often, only a few do I have to buy more regularly.

Once you get in the habit of stocking up and having the essentials on hand, you will find that is so much easier to get dinner on the table or whip up a quick dessert. Keeping my house well stocked has really changed the way I cook, with these essentials there are countless things that I can make or bake with NO advanced planning or running to the supermarket. It doesn’t get any better than that!

In the Pantry

For Baking

  • Flours (All-Purpose, Wheat, Bread, and Cake)
  • Sugars (Granulated, Light or Dark Brown, Turbinado, Confectioner’s)
  • Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Vanilla Beans
  • Pure Extracts (Vanilla, Almond, Coconut, and Hazelnut)
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Cinnamon
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Nutmeg
  • Honey
  • Yeast (Rapid Rise and Regular)
  • Sprinkles
  • Cupcake liners
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Molasses
  • Raisins
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Marshmallow Fluff
  • Popcorn Kernels

For Cooking

  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Stocks (Beef and Chicken)
  • Long Grain Rice (Brown and White)
  • Beans (Small Red Kidney and Baked)
  • Pasta in various shapes
  • Breadcrumbs (Seasoned and Panko)
  • Onion Soup Mix
  • Black Olives
  • Bread
  • Oil (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vegetable, and Canola as well as flavored oils)
  • Vinegar (A really good Balsamic, White, and Apple Cider)
  • Extra condiments so I don’t run out (Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo etc)
  • Syrup (Pure Maple and Aunt Jemima)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Various Seasonings and Spices (Paprika, Basil, Oregano, Poultry, Red Pepper, etc)
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Coffee Beans
  • Various Teas

Fridge

  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard (Dijon and Deli)
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Hot Sauce
  • Pickles
  • Green Olives
  • A-1 Steak Sauce
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Wondra
  • Large Eggs (at least 2-3 dozen)
  • Butter (Whipped, Salted Sticks, Unsalted Sticks)
  • Half and Half
  • Heavy Cream
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Cream Cheese
  • Various Cheeses ( Mozzarella, Cheddar, Shaved Parmesan, Locatelli, etc)
  • Bacon
  • Pie Crusts
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Baby Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Apples and Oranges
  • Lemons and Limes

Freezer

  • Various Meats (Chicken Breasts, Ground Beef, Stew Meat, London Broil, etc. – I buy in bulk at BJ’s, portion it out and vacuum seal it so it lasts a long time and stays fresh)
  • Bacon
  • Homemade Waffles and Pancakes
  • Homemade Cookie Dough
  • Butter Sticks
  • Mozzarella (I stock up when they go on sale and freeze)
  • Veggies – Steam Bag variety
  • Various Frozen Fruits
  • Herbs (Basil, Parsley, Thyme, etc)
  • Italian Bread