Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pantry Meals

Click the link above to see the other ideas at Rocks in My Dryer.

With the beginning of school, and an entirely new fall schedule including Bible studies, soccer practice, and school volunteering, meal-planning is becoming increasingly important to me. One key in being sure that there is a meal on the table each night is thinking ahead. Unfortunately, on those weeks that I have a busy schedule, sometimes meal planning (or grocery shopping) is just too much for me to handle.

This is where the Pantry Meal comes into play. I consider a pantry meal one which I can throw together without any thawing or not involving perishable items, like fresh vegetables. I do include dairy, because it has a reasonably long shelf life, and I usually have these items on hand. If I keep the staples for these kinds of meals in my pantry or refrigerator, it enables me to get dinner on the table, even if I haven't been to the grocery store or haven't planned ahead. I have a couple of favorite pantry meals that I will share, and I would love to hear your ideas and/or recipes in the comments as well for the types of meals you create out of what is available.

San Antonio Skillet Supper
This is one of those recipes that I don't use a recipe for anymore, so it's approximate. You can also make it vegetarian by adding another can of beans (black beans or any variety). This serves our two adults, one kid and a toddler, usually with enough leftovers for my husband's lunch.

One link (half a pkg) of smoked sausage (kielbasa), sliced in half lenthwise, and then sliced
one can of tomatoes (diced, stewed, or with green chiles, depending on your love of spice)
one cup of salsa
one cup of water
one can of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
one cup of long grain white rice (I think that I probably use more rice to stretch it, but I don't measure anymore, so I'm not sure--you could try a cup and a half)

Mix all together in a large skillet with lid. When it boils, turn down to simmer, and cover. When I’m cooking regular rice, I never peek, but with this, you should peek and stir, and add more water if necessary every 5 - 10 minutes or so. It takes about 20 minutes to cook.

Garnish with shredded cheese and/or sour cream.

Baked Ziti
My husband IS a meat kind of eater, but this hearty Italian casserole doesn't make him ask, "Where's the Beef?" You can add sliced pepperoni if you need to. I usually serve it with broccoli (if I have it) or salad, and garlic bread.

8 oz dried pasta--ziti, rotini or macaroni even
8 oz (1/2 carton) ricotta cheese
1 jar spaghetti sauce
shredded mozzerella (at least 2 cups--I'm thinking)

Boil pasta and drain. In a large bowl, add the ricotta, a handful of the mozzerella, and some of the jarred sauce (you don't want it saucy--just moist). Turn the pasta into a 2 qt dish. Pour a good layer of sauce on top, and then cover with cheese (and pepperoni if desired). Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.

What about you--what kind of meals do you prepare when you have nothing to cook?


Mom2fur said...

Yummy! I love having a well-stocked pantry. I buy more than one of items I use when they are on sale, so there's almost always a backup if I run out of something. Between the freezer and the pantry (and sometimes the fridge), I can put meals together with minimal or no shopping. It really does make life easier!

Katrina said...

These look great. I'm going to print out both of these recipes. I, too, try to keep staples on hand for a few easy meals...for those days when I just don't plan ahead enough to know what's for dinner.

Beck said...

Very good idea - I like having my pantry full, too.

Melissa said...

Great ideas! I'll definitely try them out. I try to plan menus out on Sundays, but then life happens during the week. We usually have breakfast stuff on hand, so often we have breakfast food for dinner. My daughter loves it!

Maggie said...

Tuna Casserole. Can of Tuna, Can of cream of... soup, egg noodles. I also keep shredded cheese int he freezer for Mac and Cheese. Last but not least, Spaghetti and Meatballs. I keep frozen meatballs in the freezer, a can of sauce and spaghetti noodles.

Diva P said...

Thanks for sharing your pantry recipes! We will definitely try them out when we are stuck for menu ideas.

lrlwreath said...

Yummmmm. Thanks for sharing the recipes!!!

Barbara H. said...

It's good to have "stock items" and recipes in mind for those days when things run late -- which are usually the same days we have to be somewhere in the evening! Thanks for the new recipes.

mira said...

Great tip, we love pantry meals in our house. My kids' favorite is Red Beans and Rice.

Kili @ Live Each Moment said...

What a great idea and yummy recipe!

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Heather said...

Lately I've been having a slew of noncook nights. And I don't even have kids for that excuse!
I always have spaghetti and stuff to make sauce on hand. That's my staple. If I could get away with it with my husband, I would make pancakes (a staple from my single days), but he likes his meat at dinner.

Susanne said...

I can throw together hearty soups from just about anything. Those always work for me with garlic toast slices. I dosn't take long, is simple and we're good to go.

Anonymous said...

Both of these sound really good. If you want to get another veggie in there, throw in a package of CHOPPED frozen spinach while you are boiling the noodles. The water will turn green so don't let the kids see. It does not turn out spinachy. Dh and I both hate cooked spinach, but love it like this.

Ellen, WFMW fan :)

LammyAnn said...

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmTY --
I'm always up for something easy!

Tammy said...

Oh, my hubby always asks "where's the beef?"! Too funny! I guess I'm going to have to try out that Baked Ziti!
Thanks for sharing those recipes!

Amy said...

I love pantry meals! I like to stock my freezer too with already prepared dishes so that I have something up my sleeve when I don't feel like cooking or we don't have the time. Great tip!

m said...

Nummy! I will have to keep those recipes on hand.* saving to a word doc now*

Larae said...

Thanks for the recipes. I'm gonna have to try them both out!

Maggie said...

Spaghetti Sauce over Rice (very hearty in the fall).

Frozen Lasagna...they are excellent.

Ground Beef meals: (fast!) Sloppy Joes, or Chili, Or Soup, or Hamgurger Helper and Cornbread.

Tyson chicken...LOTS of Tyson chicken. Nuggets, Planks, AND Patties. (Great Fr. Chicken Salad with basics).

Mexican (I keep staples just to do Mexi nights)

Overwhelmed! said...

Oooh, I love easy recipes like this! Would you consider stopping by stop by this coming Friday and participating in my Five Ingredient Friday recipe exchange?! :)

Let's see, a meal that I throw together when we have nothing to cook?

Hmm...we'll we buy our meat in bulk so it's rare that we don't have meat in the freezer. In a pinch, I'll throw something on the grill, but some rice in our rice cooker and open a can of veggies. Not very exciting, granted, but it does the trick!

I’ve posted a WFMW linking within comments tip.

Mrs. Darling said...

I do the same thing! Hail matey! LOL

Dianne said...

These sound good. i've been trying to avoid so many pasta meals but keeping cooked ground meat in the freezer helps me alot - it's practically pantry since it thaws in just seconds. Speaking of which i have some thawing right now and i"m supposed to be looking for a taco seasoning recip since i don't have any on hand!

Teena said...

Yummy! They sound really good! May I have some :)

happychyck said...

I started a blog aqbout this topic, but I haven't posted much:

I like scrambled eggs. They are filling and you can add meat, veggies, and cheese. It takes just a few minutes.

Gina said...

My family loves Baked Ziti and it's soooo much easier to make than lasagna and tastes the same.

And thank you, thank you, thank you for making your Baked Ziti with RICOTTA cheese instead of cottage cheese.

I can't understand why here in the midwest they use cottage cheese instead of ricotta in their Italian dishes.

And you can always add meat sauce for the meat lover in you. If you'd like to know my SECRET ingredient, just email!