With the state of the world, I thought it would be helpful to share some easy pantry (and freezer) meal ideas. I say both because in my world, the freezer is an extension of the pantry.
Now is a time when we will all be staying home a lot more, and cooking at home a lot more too. If you’re a food allergy or food-restricted diet household, there’s a good chance you already have some pantry and freezer stock.
I know MANY of you have had a sudden change of plans, and will continue to rely on your pantry for easy meals over the coming weeks. Here are meals that you can make, with tips on how to keep your meals interesting.
If You Have Freezer Stock
Now is the time to use it! This is what it’s here for. You may find that access to fresh produce or some of your family favorites is greatly reduced. Use your freezer stock liberally. Don’t forget to thaw items each morning for use on the following day.
There’s a good chance you have your favorite baking supplies on hand. Use them to make muffins, and if there are extras, freeze them. Baking supplies we like to keep on hand include a variety of gluten/corn free flour, corn free baking powder, flavoring agents, corn free vanilla, and apple cider vinegar.
- Apple Pie
- Chocolate Chip
There are a lot of awesome waffle recipes here on RAISE to help you. Like muffins, waffles freeze SO well, and make for the perfect easy meal. To make your waffle making go much faster, consider investing in a Waring Pro Double Waffle Maker. We use to have the old (super pro) version, but now have the current “pro” model. I use those quotes because it doesn’t seem as durable, however, we’ve only had it for about 18 months. So far, so good.
- Chocolate Chip (no brainer here with kids)
- Coffee (great for adults)
- Lemon Raspberry
- Sunbutter Chocolate Chip
You can use freeze dried fruits in both muffins and waffles for added flavor, nutrition, and no extra liquid to account for.
In my humble opinion, the key ingredients in a good taco bowl are refried beans, ground meat (or mushroom for vegans), and salsa. These are items that you should either have on hand, or should be able to pick up easily.
You can also make tacos if you have taco shells or tortillas on hand. If you’re feeling brave, you can also make tortillas at home. Extra fun tip: fry some of your tortillas for homemade chips. The kids love this Street Taco recipe. The BIG reason why: a little maple syrup in the beans. Trust me, it changes everything.
Have random tid-bits of ingredients? Perfect! Fried rice is super versatile and you can incorporate all sorts of ingredients for variation. The kids are in love with this Pork Fried Rice recipe.
You can make fried rice with vegan proteins, as well as chicken, shrimp, and pork. While you can use other meats, it’s not as “fried rice” when you do. It’s more like meat and rice.
When making fried rice at home, cold leftover rice is one way to make your rice taste more authentic. Also make sure your cooking pan is hot enough, and that you use enough oil.
If you’d like to have faux eggs, novelty products such as JUST Egg Substitute can be a fun addition to your rice. Don’t forget, you can use frozen vegetables in your fried rice.
There must be a thousand ways to make pasta exciting. As long as you have your favorite safe pasta on hand, go wild with the toppings. Try a meat sauce, a vegan sauce, red sauce, white sauce, homemade pesto that meets your needs, Parmesan, and everything in between.
You can also make super flavorful pasta sauces such as BBQ Chicken, Sloppy Joe (yup, perfect for pasta), and Avocado Cream. Once you have your pasta, pair it with frozen veg you have on hand for an easy meal win.
Our kids who CAN have wheat say Jovial Gluten Free Pasta is hands down the closest to wheat pasta there is. It is made in a shared facility with soy (which is OK in our home). For more allergy friendly pastas and products, check out our Safe Product Guides.
This is a great chance to use up your old freezer stock. I’m sure many food allergy and food-restricted families keep frozen fruit on hand. If you have leftovers, place it in a popsicle mold and freeze for later. You can even drizzle melted chocolate on top before serving it as a special treat for your kiddos.
Related Article: Making Dairy Free Smoothies
With kids at home, smoothies are also a great activity you can do together. If your child is on the younger side, you can talk about color, texture, numbers, and much more. Your kids can help add items into your blender, and push buttons too.
Most likely you have some meat and vegetables in your freezer. A couple of weeks ago on Monday Night Live I made possibly the easiest soup on the planet. It was meat from the freezer, frozen veg, an onion, seasonings, and water. They all LOVED it, which made me regret a little bit the fact that I didn’t write down what was in it.
You can make soup on the stove top, or in your pressure cooker. Either way, it’s a nutritious meal that’s easy to customize and easy to make.
Easy Cooking Video: Chicken & Onion Soup
If you’re looking for what’s easy in the pressure cooker, here are some very basic formulas:
- Meat + Vegetable + Water + Seasoning
- Meat + Vegetable + Tomato Sauce + Seasoning
- Vegetable + Starchy Vegetable + Water + Seasoning
- Starchy Vegetable + Beans + Tomato + Seasoning
Pro tip: you can use frozen vegetables in your soup.
Be Mindful of Others
Before you read the next section, I want to remind us all to be mindful of others. Take a good look at your pantry before you go shopping, and purchase what you need. In our case, we have plenty of rice, so I won’t be purchasing any extra. If we all get what we NEED, there will be plenty for everyone. Remember, when I say need, I’m talking about logic brain need, not “I need 12 months of toilet paper” need. It’s SO easy to slip into a panic purchase mindset, and I hope we can all do out best to avoid that. Also, if you’re able to donate to a food pantry, go for it.
How To Stock Up Moving Forward
You may want to check this article on How To Be Prepared. I know for us, the next time we’re at the store, Items I’ll try to stock up on include:
- Frozen Fruit
- Frozen Vegetables
- Jelly (for sandwiches, we already have plenty of bread and seed spreads)
- Chicken Thigh
- Chicken Breast
- Dry Pasta
- Tomato Goods
- Canned Beans
- Shelf Stable Snacks
Items We already have plenty of include rice, cooking oils, baking supplies, dairy free butter, onions, potatoes, and chocolate chips. Never underestimate the power of the last item when children are involved.
In our case, I will not be panic purchasing when I stock up. We usually restock our pantry and freezer about every 6 – 8 weeks. I’ll be purchasing what we normally purchase, plus a little extra for recipe development.
For some of you, this is business as usual (it is for us). For others, you’re now juggling working from home, kids at home full time, and many other changes you may not have been ready for. My heart goes out to you.
As the situation continues to unfold, we will keep sharing tips, ideas, and resources to keep you all moving along in a forward direction. Be sure to watch Instagram Stories daily for ideas, and catch up on everything you missed on RAISE TV.