The other day I opened up my Facebook page to find five photos of fresh thick snow blanketing homes of family and friends in the East and Midwest. Even though I have lived 53 of my 55 years of life in sunny San Diego, the other two years were spent in the Watchung Mountains, the part of New Jersey that spawned the motto “The Garden State.” I still remember my first real snowstorm in December of 1981. Rebecca was six months old.
Our house looked like something out of a fairy tale and I was like a little girl, filled with awe and amazement at the sight…
...until I realized that we had no food in the house and I needed to go to the grocery store (Darn…the responsibility of a grown-up woke me out of my dream). I bundled Rebecca in her snowsuit, dug my car out of the driveway, and slid down the hill to the market.
1981 - when my hair was still safe! - GGC
... I realized from that moment on that it would be a good idea to have a supply of food always on hand in case of snow days or other emergencies.
I have learned over the years how to stock my shelves with healthy but easy foods that I can throw together in a moment’s notice. Even though the chance of heavy snow in my neck of the woods is zero, there are many days when I don’t have time for shopping or cooking but still want a healthy meal. When we were meat eaters, I would always keep a chicken and some hamburger meat in the freezer, but now that we are vegetarians, I have had to be a little more creative. Yesterday I took pictures of what I have on hand at the moment in my refrigerator and freezer as well as my cupboard. I thought it would be fun to share with you ways to create meals from these staples.
Freezer:Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers) and buns.
-Several containers of frozen soup (when you cook soup, cook enough so you can freeze some for emergency meals).
-Pie crusts for quiche (I always keep some in the freezer, although you can make a crust-less quiche or frittata just as easily).
-Channa Masala from Trader Joe’s or other favorite frozen and healthy ready-made food that your family likes. Look for foods that are low in fat (The Channa Masala tastes like it’s homemade. With rice, you have a complete meal).
-Tortillas (I buy them at a tortilla factory and split them into packs of 12 to freeze).
Refrigerator:-I always have at least 2 dozen eggs on hand which I can use to make frittatas, omelets, quiches, or huevos rancheros.
-Tempeh or tofu. I like tempeh better than tofu and make sure I keep a package in the refrigerator. You can fry it up with vegetables or steam it and grate it for soft tacos.
-Celery and carrots (they keep really well and I always have them on hand)
-A good organic canned chili
-A variety of canned beans (black, garbanzo, kidney, and northern white are good choices)
-Tikka massala or korma massala by Seeds of Change—I love this brand.
I good quality organic pasta sauce
-Grains: I always have quinoa, oat groats, polenta and rice on hand
-Good quality jar salsa
-Vegetarian refried beans (I like black best)
Quick Meals with the above:
2. Quiche, frittatas, scrambled eggs, or omelets. Use whatever vegetables you have in the house, canned roasted peppers or frozen spinach, drained and squeezed dry.
3. Baked sweet potatoes with good quality canned chili or on top. Add cumin and cilantro to give it more life.
4. Curried vegetables over rice. 1 jar tikka masala or korma masala and chopped vegetables stir fried until tender (if you don’t have any fresh, frozen peas are delicious in a curry). I made it here with my garden vegetables...broccoli, broccoli leaves and snap peas.
(Add cashews or peanuts if you have them.)
5. Curried garbanzo beans. Throw a can of garbanzos in with the Seeds of Change or other jar curry sauce and you have an instant meal that is delicious.
...You can add coconut milk to extend it and more curry seasonings if you want. (add a splash of fish sauce and some red curry paste for a more Thai flavor). You can add tempeh or tofu to this, too.
6. Spaghetti sauce over pasta or quinoa (with or without veggies). Add a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of red wine to make the flavor sing (of course you can add mushrooms, vegetables and onions if you have them on hand).
7. Quinoa with tempeh, and either fresh or frozen vegetables (add soy sauce, Braggs Amino Acids or Ponzu).
8. Canned refried black beans in corn tortillas with tempeh and salsa. Optional: You can add any fixings you have on hand such as grated cheese, sour cream, frozen corn, and cilantro.
9. Worlds easiest soup: I box vegetable soup, 1 can beans (kidney, black, or white works well), 1 can tomatoes, 2 stalks celery, 2 chopped carrots, one chopped onion, herbs of your choice, bullion cube or paste. Put together and cook until tender. (if you have other vegetables, they can go in it, too).
10. Breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs and pancakes or waffles.
11. Huevos rancheros. Fried eggs on warmed tortillas with salsa (cheese optional). Serve with refried beans.
12. Fried rice: Cook scrambled eggs in hot oiled pan until done. Remove. Add sliced green onions (if you have them) and cook until tender. Add Cooked rice to pan and a little more oil. Fry until starting to brown and add soy sauce or oyster sauce and frozen peas or other vegetables. Cook until peas are warmed through and add eggs back in. (You can also add a variety of fresh veggies if you have them on hand.)
What are your easy and healthy throw-together-from-the-cupboard recipes? I’d love to add them to my collection!