We’ve all been there – long day, nothing seems to be going right, and we just don’t have enough hours in the day. While it’s tempting to drive through somewhere for dinner or order in, that’s rarely the healthy option to make. Since we’re all about health here, let’s talk about whipping something up with things you already have in your pantry. Even if you’re not a creative person in the kitchen, it’s worth it to take a look around and see what you can come up with. Not only will you save money that could be better spent on experiences, but you’ll have the added peace of mind that what you made was healthy and nourished your body. If you don’t stock healthy foods in your refrigerator and pantry, well, that’s an entirely separate conversation on its own.
See What’s Expiring
One of the first things you should check out when making dinner on the fly is what is in the fruit bowl or produce bins in your fridge that are about to go bad. It’s alarming just how much food goes to waste in this country, so don’t add to that problem. You bought it, use it! When you identify these items, let them be the inspiration for the meal. If you’ve got fruit that’s about to spoil, they could be a quick appetizer for the family simply by cutting them up or could be used for a simple post-dinner dessert. More on that later.
Peer in the Pantry
Take a look inside your pantry and take stock of what you’ve got. Chances are, if you’re like most people, you’ve got plenty of pasta and kinds of rice. So why not get creative with your grains and use something like millet? You probably bought it for a recipe that you never ended up making, and it’s been sitting there waiting for you to use it. The truth is, the health benefits of millet are vast, and the distinct taste is slightly sweet. It could very quickly become a common swap for rice in your home. With your vegetables from the fridge and grain, it’s easy to make a simple stir fry in less than fifteen minutes, which is not only nutrient-dense but incredibly satisfying.
When was the last time you cleaned out your freezer? And, if you’re like a lot of families, you may even have a chest freezer you never even look inside. Chances are you have plenty of healthy frozen protein options within one or both of those freezers. So dig through and opt for something high in healthy fats like fish. Not to mention, fish goes excellent with grains and vegetables. You may even strike gold and find a frozen dessert in your freezer, and then you’ve got dinner and dessert covered, win-win!
Dessert on a Dime
Earlier, when we touched on the fruit going bad, we also touched on saving money by deciding not to eat out. Since you’ve come this far in your creativity, why not extend it to dessert. Even if you did find a frozen pie to throw in the oven, choose to make one instead! This is an excellent time to see what dairy products you may have that are nearing their expiration date. If you’ve got some yogurt and ice, take that fruit you found earlier and whip up a smoothie. If you found bananas earlier, chop them into smaller pieces and store them in a Ziploc inside the freezer. When you’re ready, place them in a blender, and you have “nice cream” within minutes. You can add any flavoring to the smoothie or ice cream that you like. And, if you’ve never made nice cream before, you’ll quickly see why it’s a cult classic among people that follow a plant-based diet. Not only is it rich and decadent, but it’s also much, much healthier than its dairy counterpart.
Not only is everything outlined above super easy to do, but it’s also an excellent habit to take up. You ultimately save money when you make a conscious effort to cook with what you already have in your pantry. So often, we create unnecessary trips to the grocery store for things we think we want or need and then end up throwing food, not to mention money, down the drain as they expire. Here’s to your health and wealth!