Now is the perfect time to get creative and make the most out of what you already have in your pantry.
Shopping for groceries has become more difficult lately. Not only are many stores limiting their hours, but frequently going to the grocery store increases the risk of spreading the virus.
Just because you’re not going to the grocery store frequently doesn’t mean you can’t still make delicious and healthy recipes at home. It’s the perfect time to get creative and make the most out of what you already have in your pantry.
Below are three healthy recipes you can make using ingredients you may already have in your house. If you’re missing any of the ingredients, we encourage you to get creative and substitute with something you do have to limit your trips to the grocery store. We’ll also make some suggestions about what to use for some of the ingredients you may be lacking.
Get Creative by Only Using What You Have
According to an article published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the average U.S. household wastes 31.9% of its food. (1) Most of us tend to follow a strict recipe, including every single ingredient, when cooking a meal. Now is the time to think outside the box, and only use what you have on hand.
If you’re missing any of the ingredients in the three recipes below, you can get creative by substituting in ingredients you do have. Here are a few ideas:
- Olive oil. Instead of olive oil, you can use coconut oil, grass-fed butter, or avocado oil.
- Tuna. You can replace canned tuna with other canned meats like salmon or chicken. You can also use any leftover chicken you may have in your fridge or freezer.
- Vegetables. If you have any leftover vegetables in your fridge that need to be used, you can use them before going out and buying new vegetables.
- Pasta. You can replace pasta with other starchy carb sources you may have such as rice or quinoa.
You can also check out our blog on the healthiest foods to keep in your pantry if you want even more ideas of healthy foods you may already have.
1. Spring Vegetable Soup
This recipe is easy, light, and packed with vitamins. Adding garlic can help boost your immune system, while also supporting your body’s inflammatory response. (2)
This is a great recipe because you can use any kind of vegetables you already have. We’ve also included a couple optional ingredients to add to your soup, however, it will taste just as good without them. Soup makes great leftovers as well, so if you have enough ingredients, you can always double the recipe and have it for lunch the following day.
Time: About 45 minutes
- 4-5 cups of Vegetables (fresh, canned or frozen)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups of vegetable stock (If you don’t have any type of stock, you can add the vegetables to 4 cups of water, and increase the cooking time to 1 hour).
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
- Salt and pepper (if you have it)
- Canned chicken
- 1 can of whole tomatoes (15-ounce)
- 1 onion
Step 1: If you have and are using an onion for this recipe, peel and dice it, and sauté it on a low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the minced garlic and sauté another minute.
Step 2: Add your vegetables to a pot as well as the vegetable stock. Season with salt (about 2 teaspoons), add the sauteed garlic and onions, and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer.
Step 3: Cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Step 4: Spoon into bowls and serve! (Don’t forget to taste it one more time to see if it’s seasoned enough)
2. Healthy Baked Tuna Pasta
This incredibly versatile recipe contains ingredients that you might already have around your house like tuna and frozen vegetables. You can use any type of short pasta you have in your pantry, however, we do recommend gluten-free or non-wheat pasta.
Adding mustard to this dish not only enhances the flavor, it also adds to the health benefits of the recipe. Mustard provides essential vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, is an excellent source of omega-3s, and magnesium, and has antioxidant properties. (4,5)
Time: About 60 minutes
- 6-8 ounces of pasta (preferably non-wheat )
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups of vegetables of your choice (canned, frozen or fresh)
- 1 ½ cups of tomato sauce
- 2 Tablespoons of dijon mustard
- 3 cans of tuna, chicken or any other source of protein
- Salt and Pepper
- Shredded cheese (we recommend organic, or non-dairy)
- Tomatoes (canned or fresh)
*For the lowest mercury content, use skipjack or light tuna. (6)
Step 1: Unthaw any frozen vegetables and preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large baking dish with extra virgin olive oil.
Step 2: Cook the pasta according to the box’s instructions and drain.
Step 3: In a medium bowl combine the tomato sauce, mustard, and (optional) cheese. Mix in the cooked noodles, tuna, and vegetables until all the ingredients are coated with sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 4: Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Step 5: Bake for about 20 minutes or until it becomes golden.
3. Greens Medley Marinated Salad
This vegetable medley salad is a great recipe for using up any vegetables you may have in your fridge or freezer. You can use any type of greens or vegetables you have. Some options you may want to try are broccoli, cauliflower, peas, carrots, or green beans, but feel free to experiment.
Green vegetables—from broccoli to bok choy—are some of the most crucial foods for a fully functioning immune system. (3) This is a perfect meal to make ahead of time as well. You can assemble your vegetables before going to bed, toss with the simple homemade vinaigrette, refrigerate overnight, then serve the next day.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Marinade: 3 hours
- 4 cups Green Vegetables
- Canned tuna, chicken or any protein you have in hand
- Seeds or Nuts
- Lemon juice
For the vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- Salt and Pepper
Step 1: Thaw your frozen vegetables on a plate or in the microwave.
Step 2: For the Vinaigrette: add all the ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid or bowl then shake or whisk to combine. Taste then add more salt, pepper if necessary.
Step 3: Add vegetables to a large bowl then dress with 3/4 of the vinaigrette and toss.
Step 4: Refrigerate for 3 hours or up to overnight. Toss with remaining vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste just before serving.
You can reduce your number of trips to the grocery by using up the food you already have in your house. Sticking to recipes that use simple ingredients can also help reduce the number of grocery stores you need to visit. Just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t still make delicious, healthy, and affordable recipes.
For even more recipes, take a look at our top three recipes to help your body detox as well as three of our favorite delicacies to support your body's inflammatory response.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
2. Arreola R, Quintero-Fabián S, López-Roa RI, Flores-Gutiérrez EO, Reyes-Grajeda JP, Carrera-Quintanar L, Ortuño-Sahagún D. Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:401630. doi:10.1155/2015/401630. Epub 2015 Apr 19. Review. PubMed PMID: 25961060; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4417560.
3. Li Y, Innocentin S, Withers DR, Roberts NA, Gallagher AR, Grigorieva EF, Wilhelm C, Veldhoen M.Exogenous stimuli maintain intraepithelial lymphocytes via aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation. Cell. 2011 Oct 28;147(3):629-40. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.09.025.Epub 2011 Oct 13. PubMed PMID: 21999944.