It’s time for one of my favorite frugal challenges, No Grocery Shopping Week! Every couple of months I like to use up all the odds and ends in my pantry and create a week’s worth of meals without hitting the stores. I’m planning a trip to Costco soon, so I like to save some money and purge out the old stuff before I go. And of course I’ll share all of my tips for saving big money at Costco after my trip (shopping there saves us hundreds of dollars a year, close to a thousand in fact).
So here’s what I have to work with in my main kitchen cabinets:
As you can see I have lots of flours, sugars, tvp, maple syrup, nuts, canned seafood like clams, crab, and tuna, a variety of rice, and tea.
My “pantry” is really just our little hall closet. We’re actually super lucky to have it because many apartments in New York are seriously lacking in closet space. We use the bottom half of the closet for coats and our shopping cart, tool box, and cat carrier. The top half is where we store our bulk Costco items like toilet paper, canned goods, gallons of olive oil, zip locks, and large bags of rice.
So now I do what I call “creating something from nothing”. I know that these meals won’t be quite as balanced and vegetable heavy as our normal fare, but I really think it’s important to use up what you have.
I started this challenge this weekend, so far we’ve had Ramen and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Next I made this simple Tossed Tuna Pasta.
I used up the rest of our fresh produce (two acorn squash halved and baked, filled with sauted mushrooms, garlic, a jalapeno, a tomato and some fresh dill)! Not too shabby, eh?
Now we’re in the second half of our money saving week so I’m using up our non-perishables. First up is a variation on my Tuna Rice Casserole. I threw in some spicy cooked tvp flakes (small grind), chopped beets, a mashed avocado, and frozen crushed tomatoes with Italian seasonings. You can put almost anything in this recipe and chances are it’ll turn out tasty.
Later in the week we’ll be enjoying a meal of canned vegetable soup. That’ll be followed by another serving of homemade Clam Risotto (sans mushrooms). Crab Cakes will be our fancy meal on Thursday night, and on Friday we’ll end our week of no shopping with pasta and tomato sauce (made from crushed tomatoes that I parboiled and froze during the summer months- when the next tomato season comes around I’ll do a post all about preserving fresh tomatoes).
Do you ever use up everything in your pantry? What are some of your favorite pantry meals?