Plan Meals from Your Cupboards

Every couple of months I take stock of what is in my refrigerator, freezer, and cupboard and try to eat out of them for a week or more without buying anything but milk. I know it’s time for the “cleanse” when my freezer gets so full that packages start sliding out when I open the door. The refrigerator isn’t usually a problem because I can keep on top of that. I have a small cupboard, so that can’t get too out of control either. Yesterday I emptied out my refrigerator/freezer and made a list of everything. I don’t bother to list the individual portions of soups and meat packets I use for lunch, because I keep them in a plastic tub so they are contained. Before I put everything back, I wiped out the shelves and emptied the ice bin because with the automatic defrost, the ice gets stale. I reviewed stock of the cupboard and didn’t find lots of duplicates.

The inventory process took about a half hour. I found 3 full bags of frozen vegetable mixes plus several partial bags. I also found some round steak that had been in there for 6 months and some hamburger that I had repackaged, but forgot to date. It took another half hour to come up with meals using only what I have on hand.  All I have to buy this week is milk!
Our 5 day meal planner is in the PLAN section of the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website.

I wonder how long I could go without buying anything but milk and fresh vegetables…

-pointers from Peggy

Resource for using up ingredients

I don’t have a large kitchen which means I don’t have room to store ingredients I won’t use (or keep until they are so old I have to throw them out). In a fit of organization, I went through my cupboards and pulled out 9 items I needed to to use or get rid of. One internet site I like to use to search for recipes with specific ingredients is Allrecipes.com. You can put in the ingredients you want, those you don’t, and you have the choice to search all the recipes or by category. The only thing that is annoying is the pop-ups that ask if you want to become a member or a supporting member. Here are the 9 items and what I decided:

  1. Salsa Picante Hot Sauce—Try to use instead of Tabasco in the marinade I make frequently.
  2. Raspberry Jalapeno Ambrosia Sauce—Pour over lite cream cheese for an appetizer I need to take for New Years Eve Party.
  3. Canned Savory Beef Gravy—See if my daughter wants.
  4. Fish Sauce—Give away.
  5. Maraschino Cherries—I think I bought these to decorate yeast rolls. Give away.
  6. Guacamole Mix— Just add avocado and serve the night we have #8. Maybe next time I have dinner club I can do a Mexican theme.
  7. Hoisin Sauce—The Allrecipe search came up with 67 recipes. To narrow my choices, first I sorted by rating, then I looked at the number of reviews. There is one that I think would be good: Super-Simple, Super-Spicy Mongolian Beef. Since super spicy doesn’t appeal, I will omit or reduce the red pepper flakes in the recipe.
  8. Roasted Tomato Taco Sauce—The Allrecipe site came up with 31 recipes that included taco sauce. Chicken Enchiladas I has 1,139 reviews and 4+ stars. Beef and Bean Chimichangas has 479 reviews and 4+ stars. I will look at these recipes and choose one to make.
  9. Fajita Marinade—The bottle says to marinate chicken or beef in half a bottle for 15 minutes, then cook.

I feel better knowing I don’t have to look at those items in the cupboard. Do you have any organizing tips you would like to share?

-pointers by Peggy

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