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Meal Ideas Using Pantry and Freezer Staples

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Our Weekly Cadence – 2023 October 9-22

Hey there, lovely readers! Welcome back to ‘Our Weekly Cadence,’ where we invite you to join us in the heart of our home. These next few weeks we are focused on using what we have at hand — so we are tasking ourselves with meal ideas using pantry and freezer staples. With this purpose in mind with our baking, we will be enjoying fall pumpkin from our freezer. Our pantry and freezer are getting reorganized as well. And as far as our natural home, there are a few items that need replenishing. Finally, our fall garden planting is almost complete for the season.

With reorganization in mind, we decided to start making these posts biweekly instead of weekly. Holidays are coming and as our schedules get more chaotic, we think planning every two weeks instead of one makes sense. Planning biweekly helps keep us organized, but also allows for flexibility. So hopefully you’ll hear from us again in a few weeks with more ideas for fall in your kitchen and homes.

Bi-Weekly Meal Plan – Simple Meal Ideas Using Pantry & Freezer Items

As noted, the next few weeks we want to create meal ideas using pantry and freezer staples we typically have on hand. However, we did purchase a box of local vegetables recently that we plan to use over the next few weeks. And by the same token, we know we will probably stop at the store for eggs and milk and a bag of chips or something. Soon however, we would like to try a no buy week or two and see how it goes.

Pantry Staples

We keep our pantry stocked with numerous grains like different varieties of rice, quinoa, barley, oats, etc. This helps create a compliment or base to many meals. Also, in our pantry we like to store root vegetables like potatoes, onions and garlic (separately of course as potatoes and onions don’t like to share their space). Numerous varieties of beans and lentils in bulk also have a home in our pantry. All this being said — we could probably live for months on porridge, beans and rice if needed!

Freezer Staples

As far as the freezer goes, our top shelf tends to house our latest sliced sourdough bread. We have an area for frozen berries and fruits as well as a drawer full of vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, peas, spinach, artichokes, hatch chilies and tomato pastes/sauces. Another shelf is utilized for chicken stocks/broths and leftovers such as grains, beans, soups, and bolognese. Lastly, we store all of our protein options in the bottom drawer – this includes fresh beans, seafood, and typically chicken breasts and ground poultry.

Dinner Ideas Using Pantry & Freezer Items:

  • Crispy skin red snapper, Mayacoba Rancho Gordo beans, on top wilted arugula w/lemon
  • Tomato and leftover bean & basil soup, sourdough grilled cheese
  • Lentil quinoa tacos with crispy blue corn shells (we substitute our own taco seasoning)
  • Marinated and grilled chicken, roast diced sweet potatoes, marinated squash
  • Frozen green curry sauce – add shrimp, potato, bell pepper, shallot, green beans and yellow tomatoes
  • Caesar salad with leftover grilled chicken and homemade croutons
  • Freezer bolognese and papparadelle
  • Pizza – pepperoni & basil, yellow tomato & basil
  • Sourdough BLT with homemade potato chips using mountain rose potatoes
  • Frozen general tso’s chicken with broccoli and half white half brown rice

Lunch Meal Plan

School Lunches

  • Peanut butter w/homemade strawberry preserves and chips
  • Black bean tacos with homemade sweet pepper pickles and chips
  • Tuna salad with crackers and cherry tomatoes
  • Nachos with leftover lentil quinoa taco ‘meat’ and refried beans
  • DIY yogurt bowl with granola, fresh fruit and honey
  • Leftover pizza
  • DIY salad bowls with chopped veggies and homemade yogurt ranch
  • Breakfast for lunch – french toast sticks, sausage and hard-boiled egg

Grown-up Lunches

  • Barley, mayocoba bean grain bowls with cucumber, grape tomatoes, mixed greens, avocado, provolone and lemon garlic herb dressing topped with roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Barley salad bowl with sardines, chopped carrots, celery, cucumber and lemon vinaigrette
  • Leftover tomato soup with bacon grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Leftover lentils and quinoa grain bowls with sheep milk feta, marinated squash, green beans, mint
  • Leftover green curry
  • Leftover pizza
  • Tuna sandwiches/salad
  • Italian pasta salad – fussili with provolone, turkey pepperoni, pickled vegetables and Italian vinaigrette

Breakfast Meal Plan

  • French Toast with strawberry preserves
  • Cereal
  • Waffle Wednesday
  • Sourdough toast and eggs
  • Dutch baby donuts with strawberry syrup
  • Breakfast casserole
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal with homemade yogurt
  • Breakfast tacos
  • Sourdough oat pancakes
Meal Idea Tips
  • Crispy Skin Snapper Fillet
    • make sure your fish skin is dry and fish is seasoned well
    • heat oil in a pan and add snapper skin side down for 5-6 minutes until you can pry the skin off the skillet to turn
    • cook for 1-3 mintues more depending on how thick your snapper fillet is
    • during the last minute, add some white wine and butter to deglaze the pan and create a sauce
    • serve on top of arugula to wilt the greens
  • Quick Tomato Soup
    • saute a copious amount of smashed garlic cloves (at least 6) for about 5-7 minutes until golden
    • add diced carrots halfway through garlic cooking for sweetness
    • season with salt and pepper
    • add a tablespoon tomato paste
    • add a 28 oz jar of San Marzano tomatoes
    • add a water to empty 28 oz jar and add to soup
    • add leftover cooked white beans into empty 28 oz jar to measure and add to the soup
    • add a few tablespoons butter
    • simmer about 20 minutes
    • puree the soup with a hand blender
    • serve with a drizzle of cream
  • Lemon Herb Marinated Chicken
    • place all ingredients in a freezer bag
    • dollop (teaspoon) of dijon mustard
    • juice of a lemon
    • 3 glugs of Ponzu sauce (3 tablespoons?)
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • few large pinches of dried herbs: oregano, thyme and sage
    • 4-5 glugs of pure olive oil (1/4 cup)
    • few drizzles of honey
    • marinate in morning, grill in the evening

Homemade Baked Goods – Using Freezer & Pantry Items

Photo of background of freshly brewed coffee in a chemex and in the front a large piece of pumpkin sourdough coffee cake on a plate

Last fall, we roasted decorative pie pumpkins, yielding an abundance of pumpkin puree. We froze this puree in one-cup portions for easy access in smoothies, muffins, pies, and this delectable coffee cake. With small, ready-to-use portions on hand, you can effortlessly enjoy pumpkin goodness anytime. Since we are utilizing pantry and freezer ingredients this week for meal ideas, we decided to grind some soft wheat berries from the pantry and combine them with defrosted pumpkin puree, olive oil and yogurt and some oats. As such, we created a delicious, moist, pumpkin coffee cake. Go take a peak, try the recipe and and let us know what you think!

We also want to make another few loaves of sourdough bread to replenish the stock we like to keep in our freezer. Our pantry contains buckwheat groats and since we ground soft wheat berries, we are going to make The Perfect Loaf’s Soft Honey Buckwheat Sandwich Bread.

Natural Home & Beauty

The oil cleansing method is a natural skincare technique that uses oil to cleanse the skin. In essence, this method utilizes the ‘like dissolves like’ principle, where the oil helps to dissolve and remove impurities, makeup, and excess sebum from your skin, wiping it clear and clean and keeping it balanced. Because we are almost out, we are crafting a new batch of our homemade facial cleansing oil that we use morning and night in our skincare routines.

Fall Cleaning – Pantry & Freezer Reorganization

cupboard's open to pantry with 5 shelves loaded with lots of see through containers of beans, legumes, grains, flours, sugars and snacks. Top two and bottom two shelves are drawers that pull out, the middle shelf houses a coffee grinder, toaster and small microwave.

On our fall cleaning list is trying to de-clutter and reorganize our pantry and freezer so that future meal planning and meal ideas will be easier to visualize when we are making them. How we usually reorganize is by taking one shelf or drawer at a time, pulling all items out and then removing or replacing them in a more organized/visual appeasing way. The goal is to be able to see what we have, what we need as well as be inspired to create more ideas!

In that accord, our pantry has see through containers and we like to un-package groceries when we get them and move them into their respective bins. We also try to keep like things together in our freezer and pantry. And with our freezer drawers we try to stack things vertically so we can see everything and not have things piled on top of each other and therefore hidden from sight. On our freezer shelves we similarly try to keep things vertical. For example, all of our frozen leftovers like sauces, bolognese, stocks, grains etc. we freeze flat in freezer-bags so we can stack them next to each other like books. Again, we’ve found that out of sight means out of mind which then creates waste. So these next two weeks we will focus on removing, re-packaging, redistributing and ultimately creating a tidy space in both our pantry and our freezer.

Fall Potager Garden Time

We have some sprouts from our earlier plantings, yay! Not as many as we would like, but that is to be expected with the drought and lingering heat here. We still have some lettuces to plant, some parsley and spinach. We will also plant more radishes as the weeks go by.

What’s in Bloom?

Turk’s cap is in full bloom; the leaves and flowers are edible. The flowers are reminiscent of honeysuckle and the fruits are actually called a Mexican apple and taste sweetly so. However, we try to leave the flowers for hummingbirds when they are migrating.

The cooler mornings and evenings are reviving some of our mints and the eggplants flowers are going crazy. Hopefully in the next few weeks the garden will start taking off even more.

Until Next Time!

Until next time, dear readers, remember, we’ve transitioned to bi-weekly updates, but we’re still here weekly to make your cooking adventures exciting and your kitchen cozy. Do you have plans for a pantry or freezer reorganization soon? Any meal ideas you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you. Stay inspired and keep those ovens warm!

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