Wednesday, May 7, 2008



Even if you comb the flyers, you won’t always be prepared for some of the specials you’ll find during your weekly shopping trip. While I try to limit the number of “impulse” purchases, I won’t pass up a good sale. What this does is build up my stash of cupboard staples for those weeks when we’ve spent too much and the grocery budget is shot, or I’ve gotten lazy and haven’t hit the supermarket. That’s when my creative juices get flowing and I “shop my cupboard” for dinner. Some of the meals that have come out of this adventure have actually made it into my regular rotation. Let me share just a few to give you some ideas so that you can shop your cupboard and save time and money. I like to try this about once a month. I won’t claim that I can go a whole week without shopping for anything (milk, bread, and fresh veggies just don’t last), but I can get by for quite a few days.

1 pound of any type pasta (except spaghetti-style pastas) or egg noodles
1 large jar of ready-made tomato sauce
1 container of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
2 eggs
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano
grated cheese

Prepare pasta according to package instructions and drain. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Mix eggs and cottage/ricotta cheese together and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and grated cheese. Pour pasta into casserole dish and stir in cottage cheese mixture. Add jar of sauce and combine well. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes, then serve. Makes 6-8 generous servings.

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken (breasts or thighs work)
1 can cream of mushroom (or chicken or broccoli) soup
1 cup rice
1 package frozen broccoli, defrosted

1 1/3 cups water

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Add broccoli, rice, soup, and water. Mix well. Lay chicken pieces on top. Cover and bake at 375 degrees 45 minutes or until rice and chicken are done. Serves 4.


8 eggs
½ onion, sliced thinly OR several scallions, sliced
sliced red peppers (1 fresh OR several jarred OR ½ package frozen)
1 can drained mushrooms (use fresh, if you have them)
1 Tbs. olive oil

cheese (any kind)—shredded (no more than 3-4 ounces)
seasoning (I love Sazon, but use whatever you have on hand)

OPTIONAL: several slices ham or Canadian bacon, diced

Beat the eggs, adding just a splash of water. Slice and dice all other ingredients. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute onions, peppers, mushrooms (any other veggies) several minutes over medium heat. Add beaten eggs and seasonings (and meat, if you wish) and cook over medium heat, without stirring, until bottom begins to brown (you can lift the edges of the frittatta and tilt the pan so that the runny egg runs underneath). Turn omelet over (you may want to slide it on a dish, then invert it into pan) and allow other side to brown. Top with cheese and slice into wedges.


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
½ onion, chopped
red pepper, chopped (use roasted if fresh not available)
vinegar, red wine or Balsamic
olive oil
salt, pepper, oregano

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine 1 Tbs. vinegar, 3 Tbs. olive oil, and seasonings to taste and pour over ingredients. Toss gently. A great side dish to hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs.

*feel free to use other types of beans


1 cup Arborio rice
½ onion, chopped
3 ½ cups broth, chicken or vegetable
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. butter
grated cheese

Optional add in’s to make this an entrée: cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces; cooked shrimp; diced leftover pork or beef

In a microwave safe bowl, add 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. butter and microwave uncovered for 2 minutes. Add chopped onion and microwave for another 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup Italian Arborio rice and microwave for 5 minutes. Stir rice and onion mixture, then add 3 ½ cups broth. Microwave for 9 minutes. Stir the mixture well and microwave for an additional 9 minutes. Top with grated cheese. (If adding in cooked meat or seafood, add during the last 3 minutes, just enough to heat it.)

Most of the recipes I create when I shop my cupboard are quite simple, relying on just a few ingredients and generally taking between 30 to 45 minutes, start to finish. Here are some suggestions for items to stock your cupboard (and freezer):


cream soups
spaghetti sauce
mushroom pieces
roasted red peppers
Arborio rice
frozen vegetables (broccoli, stir fry, asparagus)

I hope this gets you started. I'll be adding "Shop Your Cupboard" recipes as I invent them.


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