Whether you’re short on ideas for meals, or you’re short on food before your next grocery trip, there are creative ways to use up your pantry ingredients to get the most use of your foods. Just because you open your pantry and see nothing but a few boxes or containers of food doesn’t mean that you’re out of tasty meal options. Or, perhaps you’ve got some products fixing to expire and you want to use them up as soon as possible. No matter what your reason is, check out these ways to use up your pantry ingredients. Hopefully, you may even save money too!
1. Homemade Nut Butter
One of the most common pantry ingredients I often have are dried nuts like almonds and cashews. Though I freeze most of them to increase their shelf-life, I also keep them in my pantry for trail-mix. If I notice them sitting there and not being used for too long, I put them in my food processor and make homemade nut butter to store in the fridge. I love using it to top waffles with, put in smoothies, or make homemade protein bars. If you have a bag of peanuts or some baking nuts, consider processing them to make nut butter instead of buying more next time you go to the store.
2. Homemade Flour
If you have a container of oatmeal in your pantry, you’ve got the perfect ingredient to make your own homemade flour. Oat flour can be made by simply blending oats in a coffee grinder or food processor, and even better, oat flour can be used as a perfect substitute for all purpose or wheat flour. Instead of buying more flour to make your next homemade dish, use up your oats and make your own flour. You’ll also be making a healthier dish since oats are one of the best whole grains you can eat.
3. Healthy Breadcrumbs
One great use I have found is to take whole grain or gluten-free crackers in the pantry and process them in the food processor to coat chicken with and bake for a healthy fake-fried chicken recipe. You can also use these healthy breadcrumbs to coat fish for a fake-fried fish recipe.
4. Rice for Breakfast
If you’ve got a box of brown rice in the cabinet and are tired of eating it for dinner, consider cooking it with a little almond milk, maple syrup or stevia, and some cinnamon, and vanilla to eat for breakfast. You can even top it with raisins and almonds if you like, or fresh banana and strawberries. The possibilities are endless and you’ll never look at that boring box of rice the same again.
5. Homemade Pasta Sauce
My mom is notorious for keeping tons of canned tomatoes in her cabinet. I think she forgets that she buys them at the store and never uses them because she just keeps buying them! Though I tease her about it, what I really wish she would do is make homemade pasta sauce out of all those cans. Homemade pasta sauce is so easy to make. There are a tons of recipes out there, but basically, all you need is a can of tomatoes, a teeny bit of salt, a little olive oil, onion powder, garlic, Italian seasonings and preferably tomato paste. You can even make this ahead and freeze for storage if you like too, in case your tomatoes are fixing to expire.
6. Peanut Butter Protein Bars
Honey, oats and peanut butter are pretty common ingredients in pantries I have been in. Luckily, these three ingredient can be made into a wonderful snack for kids and adults. Mix 4 cups of oats with 2 cups of peanut butter and ½ cup honey. Add a little vanilla extract and some cinnamon if you want, or even a few dark chocolate chips. Mix together and form into small bars for homemade protein bars. Keep them in the fridge so they don’t spoil and give them to kids for afterschool snacks, or take one to work with you for breakfast. Now you won’t only be making use of your food, but also saving money on all those pricey bars out there!
7. Use Tuna Instead of Chicken
Any dish that calls for chicken, like tacos, soup, or even casseroles, can be substituted with canned tuna! If you’re out of chicken or beef, substitute tuna! One popular dish in my area is tuna noodle casserole, using pantry staples like tuna, pasta and cream of mushroom soup. Add a side of canned veggies, and you’ve got a complete meal that came straight out of your pantry! I especially love making tuna salad instead of chicken salad for a healthy lunch. Make use of this tasty pantry staple that is also healthy for you if you buy it packed in water and not oil.
Eating out your pantry can pose as a challenge, but there are plenty of ways to get creative about it! What are your favorite ways to use up your pantry foods?