This ain’t Pinterest. This is real life. I try to shoot as straight as possible, since I don’t want people to feel like doing the things we do is impossible. Part of our method is to be as transparent as possible, even when it doesn’t show us in the best light.
First confession: We don’t eat clean all the time. Sometimes, I will throw a prepackaged bag of noodles filled with MSG and unpronounceable ingredients into a pot and call it dinner. I’m trying to get better about this particular issue, we do have a lot of premade food in our extended pantry. Most of it was given to us, but it beckons from time to time. Our sons actually think that Ramen noodles are a treat, since they get them so infrequently. (I pretty them up with vegetables and meat, but still, not really healthy, though I can delude myself enough about it.)
Second confession: Even though I advocate meal planning, I don’t always do it. Heck, sometimes, like this Sunday, I go through all the effort of meal planning. Then, totally ignore it. It’s not practicing what I preach but we all fall short.
Pantry (and sis) Saved the Day
Today, I was feeling very unwell. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I turned the television on at around 1 and let the boys watch Netflix while I laid on the couch, hoping my sinuses didn’t finally explode like they felt they might. Come dinner time, I couldn’t think of a single thing to make. Everything sounded too daunting, nothing was thawed. (Yes, I realize the irony that I could have avoided all this had I actually followed my meal plan and taken the pork chops out last night for a crock pot meal. Quiet, you.) Leftover icecream cake was looking more and more like a very real option.
Fortunately, I was on the phone with my sister, who uses her Bluetooth to talk during her second shift driving 18 wheel trucks. She said, “just make spaghetti.” I thought to myself, okay, Matt isn’t home. The kids and I could just have spaghetti and sauce. Sauce is a vegetable and you don’t need meat at every meal, right? I committed to the pasta. I went into the extended pantry to get the jar of sauce, and my brain finally kicked on. Hello, I have cans of meat, both home canned and commercially canned, grab one of those, you dummy. Not only did I grab the can of chicken, but I also decided to fancy it up with a can of mushrooms.
I cooked dinner which took hardly anytime. After grace, I enjoyed this quick pantry meal. And then I wanted to smack myself. I have written two ebooks on frugality, one of which focuses on the kitchen. I knew that an extended pantry is the way to avoid eating out or take the effort out of meals. Why hadn’t I just done that without the prompting of my sister?
And I came to this conclusion. I need someone to tell me what to do. Not all the time mind you, but when I’m sick or sad, I need someone to just tell me to put one foot in front of the other. This is the premise behind my homemaking journal, since I am not one of those blessed people who are naturally organized. As I sat there at dinner, I decided to make a list of a few meals that I could keep in my homemaking binder. These meals would be quick pantry meals that I could make out of our storage. Not only will it make last minute meals no-brainers, it’s also a way for me to practice cooking from our food storage. I’ll be ready for an emergency, but it also helps to rotate the storage.
Emergency Pantry Meals
- Pasta + sauce+ canned meat of choice (chicken, ground beef, ground venison, ground pork)
- Jar of soup +bread product (bread, crackers, pita)
- Homecanned jar of sweet and sour chicken, bourbon chicken, etc + instant rice
- Jar meat (thicken with flour) + jar of carrots served over instant mashed potatoes
- Jar of sliced potatoes +ground meat+ pint tomato sauce+ can of peas for burgos (excellent recipe from the More with Less cookbook
Now I have this short list installed in my homemaking journal so that I have someone to tell me what to do. Someone eminently qualified. Me!
What other pantry meals can you think of? Share with me so I can add to my list and others can benefit from your unique and fabulous wisdom.