WFMW - Quick and Easy Pantry cooking
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Your pantry is your friend. Your pantry doesn't have to a fancy, organized cupboard wit integrated sliding shelves. I've had pantries in Rubbermaid totes, plastic bookcases, andh cardboard boxes turned on their sides. Finally, after living in several rentals with minimal cabinet space, my husband bought me these on clearance at our local furniture store. They are the build it yourself, adjustable shelf laminate type cabinet, but they were on sale for $50 each and I love them! Our new house has an entire wall of cabinets, so now I have one of these for my craft stuff and one for our Montessori play room - I took the doors off to make open shelves.

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. - Proverbs 21:20

Everything here is under 30 minutes, and uses ingredients from the pantry. I actually keep a list taped to the inside of the pantry door, of "emergency meals", and this one is a staple for me.
I keep a stock of rice in the pantry, various and sundry canned veggies (and always diced tomatoes - they go into so many things and a great way to mix vegetables into a main dish!). My freezer -yes, your freezer is part of your pantry - always has a stock of ground turkey, ground turkey sausage, and kielbasa/link style sausage. It freezes for a long time, and I stock up on the sales. MSG free sausage is hard to come by, so I try to always have some on hand. I am so blessed by this house - not only is there a wall of cabinets, but there is an upright deep freezer that helps our budget so much! Right now it has 30 pounds of turkey. Even if I spent nothing on groceries next week, we'd still be able to eat healthy, tasty meals thanks to the freezer.

These recipes are great for when you forget to take something out for dinner, burn the dinner beyond repair, or are super short on time. These are great for those busy December days, and easy on the budget!

Sausage and rice casserole:
In a large pot, start the rice. If you do brown rice from scratch, this meal will be closer to 45 minutes than 30; if you use instant, this meal will be around 10 minutes. You can cook a big batch of rice and freeze it, though - making your own instant rice without the price tag.

Brown 1 lb. of ground sausage (breakfast sausage is fine). Even if it's frozen, this should take no more than 10-15 minutes.
Add 1 pkg. frozen spinach, or well drained canned spinach. Stir it around until the spinach defrosts.

When the rice is cooked, dump the sausage mix on top (grease too) and mix thoroughly. Season to taste (you know what your family likes. I season with garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper.)

If you are feeling "chef-y", cut up onion and fresh garlic and add to sausage when browning.

Or, make jumbalaya casserole:
Instead of spinach, add 1 can red beans, drained, 1 can corn, 1 can drained diced tomatoes. Cayenne pepper, and lots of garlic. Works with polish sausage links, too. Money especially tight? Add more rice and beans, use 1/2 lb. of sausage. The spices and seasoning are what makes this tasty.

Or, make an Italian rice:
Add spinach, 1 can drained diced tomatoes, 1 can olives chopped up, 1 can mushrooms if you've got them. Add garlic, onion, oregano or italian seasoning.

Or, make it fried rice style: (2 pots required)
Make the rice in a pot with a wide bottom. Brown sausage or ground meat. Add 1bag of peas and carrots (you know, the "balls and squares" kind) or mixed veggies/stir fry veggies to the meat pot. When the rice is done, turn the heat on high and make a well in the center. Add 2 beaten eggs to the hole, and scramble them into the rice. Add the meat/veggie mix, season with soy sauce and garlic, and serve. My family likes kombu (dried seaweed flakes - my husband loves asian cuisine and feeds stuff like this to the kids all the time), so I might add some of that to the rice. You can also add sesame seeds to the rice (after steaming, before you add the eggs) or coat the pot in sesame oil before making the rice.

No rice? Cook the sausage, again 1 can drained tomatoes, and then add beaten eggs for a pan style stovetop fritatta. Or get fancy and make omelets. No eggs or rice? Try pasta. No pasta either? Go to the store and restock your pantry!

Tags: Works for Me Wednesday, Nutrition, Crafts and Cookery
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 11/28/2006 02:18:00 PM | Permalink | |