Last week, Aaron and I tried to engage in some food frugality post-Richmond vacation and played the: “What can we make from the pantry, fridge and freezer?” game. I still did require SOME fresh food but minimal: bananas, snow peas, apples discounted veggies, and Amy’s lunches for Aaron’s work. Outside of those few items, it was time to engage culinary creativity.
One meal I threw together was a simple marinated tempeh (fridge) stir-fry with snow peas (purchased), peas (freezer), okra (freezer) tossed over pasta (pantry). This was (I’m almost embarrassed to admit this) the first time I had marinated the tempeh, and boy, did that shake it up! A simple marinade of tamari, sesame oil, black pepper, and white wine vinegar.
For dinner another night, we went spicy – ole! This dish was infused with red pepper flakes, cumin, and black pepper. This was an almost glorified freezer meal: broccoli, peas, okra thrown together with diced tomatoes and chickpeas, all plopped on some wonderful brown rice. It brought the sweat…and coughing fits.
Not photographed, but better believe there was a taco night or two mixed in there. Our Costco-supply of black beans, chickpeas, and corn tortillas always prove to be a lifeline for quick, delicious meals on those nights when cooking/dicing/prepping is just not likely to happen. My friend Michelle wrote a great blog post on how to create tasty weekly meals by stocking up on key staples to have in your pantry, freezer, and fridge, especially for vegan cooks.
Some of my go-tos to help in all dishes, but especially on the cheap, are:
1) Nutritional yeast (I could eat this on everything)
2) Dried beans (black, chickpeas, navy)
3) Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts – Costco, baby!)
4) Dried herbs and spices (in particular: cumin, basil, thyme, parsley, chili powder)
5) Grains, such as quinoa, bulgur, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice
6) Other proteins: tempeh, tofu
7) Frozen veggies, especially Edamame and stiry-fry blends
8) Toasted sesame oil
9) Hummus (i know, I know. We should make this at home. But Sabra…Sabra just knows what’s up!)
10) A good balsamic vinegar (we are fortunate to have Blue Sky Oil & Vinegar not too far from our house, which has an incredibly array of vinegars and oils – you can even taste them!)
What sort of ingredients are your must haves?