#shopmypantry Challenge- Night 3

Tonight I formed my meal around some ribeye steaks that I had in the freezer. Frozen broccoli is one of the ingredients that I always try to keep on hand for stir-fry and steaming as a side, so I planned to use that with the steak for beef and broccoli from Pinch of Yum. It was delicious! I served it with white rice and kimchi for a quick tasty dinner. It made enough for leftovers, so we’re going to have the same thing for dinner tomorrow night.

The key to a good beef stir-fry is to cut the beef very thin. I find this is easiest when the steak is still slightly frozen. By transferring the steak to the fridge yesterday morning, I was able to slice it last night with no problem. It was frozen enough to make it easier to thinly slice, but not so frozen that I couldn’t easily get the knife through it. I stored it in a container and it also made dinner come together a lot faster tonight. I highly recommend this extra prep/step!

Leftovers for dinner tomorrow night and dinner out on Friday means I’m done cooking for this work week! It’s a good feeling to utilize the ingredients I have on-hand to minimize waste and to inspire creativity.

Let me know what you come up with for a meal plan with no grocery trip!


Lighter (and Easier) Salisbury Steak with Mash- #Shopmypantry Night 2

Last night I moved some lean ground beef burgers to the fridge to thaw so I could use them as my protein tonight. At first I had planned on making patty melts (basically cheeseburgers on regular bread since I didn’t have any hamburger buns) but then I realized I had mushrooms in the fridge as well! I decided to use the burger patties in salisbury steak instead that way I could utilize the mushrooms.

I paired the salisbury steaks with mashed potatoes and a caesar salad. You can’t have caesar salad with croutons, so I toasted up 2 slices of bread with olive oil and herbs to make some quick croutons.

In about 30 minutes dinner was served and it was the hearty, meaty, stick to your ribs meal that I was craving, but with less calories:)

Salisbury Steak

What I love about this recipe is that you get a rich mushroom sauce without all the cream and butter that is typically in a rich salisbury steak.

  1. Season beef patties on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet (iron skillet works great) with 1 TBSP olive oil.
  3. . Once the pan is hot, brown the beef patties on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side depending on the power of your stove. Don’t worry about cooking them the entire way through at this point because they will finish cooking in the sauce later. Remove from pan.
  4. Add 1 TBSP oil to pan. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to brown slightly and pick up the tasty meaty bits on the bottom of the pan (3-5 minutes).
  5. Add about 2 cups of beef stock and dried thyme. You can add more stock here if you want a thinner sauce. Bring to a simmer and add cornstarch (if you used more stock, add a little more cornstarch here. You can’t mess it up- thin with more stock, thicken with more cornstarch. Just keep in mind that you have to cook it a bit before it starts to thicken from the cornstarch. This won’t happen right away). Stir until the cornstarch dissolves and add the beef patties back into the sauce.
  6. Simmer the sauce and patties until the sauce is the thickness that you want and the patties are cooked through. For me it took about 5 minutes. Simmer longer or shorter until your desired sauce consistency. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes

To make these potatoes lower in fat and calories, I used chicken stock to flavor and thin them rather than milk and butter. I added a splash of fat free half and half and about 1 TBSP of low-fat sour cream to give some creaminess.

Caesar Salad

I toasted 2 slices of bread with about 1 TBSP of olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried thyme. I stirred them occasionally until they were crispy. For the salad I used romaine, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, croutons, and store bought caesar dressing. Right before serving I topped the salads with fresh pepper. Easy!

Caesar salad with fresh croutons.

I’m so happy with how this meal turned out. It was a great use of the ingredients I had on-hand and now I’m really looking forward to the leftovers for lunch.

Stay tuned for night 3!


#Shopmypantry Challenge

I’m one of those people who find enjoyment in meal planning. I love searching for new recipes to try, and figuring out a strategic way to use up ingredients in the week’s plan. Sometimes though I’m just not feeling it. This week is one of those weeks. We had a busy weekend and meal planning and a grocery trip were just not in the cards.

When I have weekends like this, I challenge myself to use the ingredients I already have in my pantry, fridge, and freezer to prepare meals for the week. I’m calling it the “Shop My Pantry Challenge.” I try to do this once a month or so. I find that it forces me to be creative with what I have and I usually find some new ways to use ingredients that I would have never thought of. It also helps stretch my grocery budget which is always a plus 🙂

The Strategy

  1. Keep go-to ingredients stocked.

There are some ingredients that I always like to have on hand for quick dinners that don’t require a detailed meal plan. I find that I work a menu around a protein so I like to keep things like frozen fish, frozen chicken, and beans on hand at all times to inspire a meal. Some of my go-to ingredients are:

  • Silken Tofu
  • Frozen chicken breasts/thighs
  • Frozen shrimp
  • Frozen fish such as barramundi.
  • Brown rice
  • Frozen broccoli
  • Turkey meatballs
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned beans
  • Essential condiments such as dijon mustard, soy sauce, sriracha, etc.

2. Find proteins on sale and stock up.

At my grocery store, there is a small section in the meat area for quick-sale meats that need to be frozen or used right away. You can get great deals by buying these proteins! I find nice cuts of steak, ground beef, pork chops, and sometimes even chicken breasts on sale here. I look for the good cuts and purchase them to add to my freezer stockpile. Usually, I build my meal plan around the proteins already in my freezer, then I just continue to pick up the meat when I can get it on sale.

3. Be ok with simple

Sometimes going rogue with a meal plan means being ok with simple. Example- breakfast for dinner! There is no shame in cereal, pancakes, or eggs and toast for dinner! Give yourself a break and be proud that you didn’t order takeout (again).

The 2 Rules

  1. I allow myself to purchase our weekly staples such as bread, milk, lunch meat, and eggs.
  2. I allow myself 1 cheat meal during the week. This week I’m planning Monday-Thursday for meals and Friday will be a night out.

Night 1 Meal: Veggie Dumplings with Miso Soup

Silken tofu is one of my staple ingredients because it lasts a while in the fridge, and it makes miso soup! My husband loves miso soup and will frequently make it for himself for lunch. I happened to have 2 lonely green onions perfect for this soup as well. I experimented by adding some of the shirataki noodles to the soup and we loved it!

I also had some veggie dumplings in the fridge that I bought last week at the store. This was my first time buying these and we really enjoyed them! I just seared them quickly in a non-stick skillet with about 1 TBSP of oil.

Veggie dumplings with soy sauce.

I challenge you to try and shop your pantry to put a few meals on the table without a grocery store trip. Be creative with the ingredients you already have, and share the recipes and pictures of what you come up with!