It’s Spring cleaning time and the first thing on my list is my pantry. While I like to keep items like lentils, dry beans, whole grains and pasta on hand, sometimes they don’t get used as quickly as I hope. Some of these shelf friendly foods can begin to sit past their expiration date so every once in awhile I like to do a little sweep by taking the items that are getting close to their expiration dates and create meals so they don’t go to waste. It’s also a great way to save money on your weekly grocery bill as well.
If your pantry is feeling a bit tight take everything out and make a game plan for the week.
Here are some ideas to use up those ingredients:
- Canned or dried beans. Have a lot of beans? Plan to make some chili or have them prepped and ready to go and add them to salads each day. I also love using black beans or pinto beans to make rice or quinoa bowls for a quick lunch.
- Whole grains. I tend to go through my grains like quinoa or rice pretty quickly but sometimes I’ll have something like barley or wild rice lying around. My tip is to make soup or stew. You can use up what you have left and make a nutrient rich, high fiber meal.
- Lentils. Lentil salads make a great healthy side dish and are pretty easy to make. I often cook the lentils in broth, drain, toss in some raw veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers and add a little olive oil and vinegar. There’s no right or wrong way, lentils don’t need a big recipe with a lot of fuss. You can also use up all your lentils by making a big pot of lentil soup.
- Tomato sauce. For me this is easy…I just make up a big pot of spaghetti sauce or chicken cacciatore. You can also make tomato soup or other vegetable based soups.
- Pasta. Pasta is probably the easiest ingredient to use up. Pasta is so versatile and can be used with a simple marinara sauce, in a pasta salad or added to soup. Throw in some grilled chicken and veggies and you’ve to a meal.
- Canned tuna fish or salmon. You can always opt for a simple sandwich or toss it into a green salad. I also like to make pasta salad with canned fish.
Before all your pantry food expires, take a peek and see what meals you can make this week to avoid food waste and save yourself some money.
Meri Raffetto is the founder of Real Living Nutrition, triplet mom, dog butler and author of the Glycemic Index Diet for Dummies® and coauthor of Glycemic Index Cookbook for Dummies® and Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies®.