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 🙂
- 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
- I allow myself to purchase our weekly staples such as bread, milk, lunch meat, and eggs.
- 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.
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!