Category Archives: pantry items

Meal Planning 101

Tonight’s dinner featued homeade pizza! One of the BEST meals to make out of leftover veggies and 99cent whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joes!

Each week I sit down and plan out my meals. I enjoy this task, not only to see how far I can stretch my dollar, but to see how creative I can get with the ingredients that I already have. Doing so, I save a lot on my weekly grocery bill and don’t waste food! I simply love meal planning.
Seek out the pantry- Literally, go through your pantry and see what you have in there. You never know what could be hiding…cans of tomato sauce, soup, a half box of pasta etc. By clearing your pantry, you will feel more organized and have a better sense of what you can use to create meals!
Today, I went through my pantry and found:

Peanut butter

about 1 serving of pasta that was left in a box

old fashioned oats

Sandwich thins

2 sweet potatoes
Peek in the fridge- Again, I take a look in the produce bin (where produce often goes to die) and see what produce is on it’s last leg. I will often use the items that are just about to go bad first, either the day of or the next day. Take items out and rearrange them so that you can actually see your items left over from a previous shopping trip.
Here’s what was in my fridge:

a ton of grapefruits, a few oranges and 1 apple

1/2 jar of applesauce

1/2 pint blueberries (getting old)

7 packs of yogurt (apparantly, I was yogurt happy last week)

1/2 red onion

1 rutabega

1 green bell pepper (getting shriveled)

1 serving green beans

cottage cheese

skim ricotta cheese

1/2 jar tomato sauce

about 2 sandwiches worth of turkey
My freezer also had:

1 lb chicken breasts and about 1 serving of frozen broccoli
I write EVERYTHING down on a sheet of paper and start thinking of which items I need to use up before they expire and others I can use for meals later in the week. I start combining things and before I know it, I have created one or two meals containing items I already had!
If there is a meal that I can easily create by adding one or two NEW ingredients to the mix, I will add the new item to my grocery list for the new week! Make sense?
Here are the meals that I created using both pantry items, and fridge items that I had on hand. Anything in red is added to my shopping list for the week. Here we go! Let’s plan.


Peanut butter + Oats + bananas = whipped banana oats

yogurt pack topped with bluberries

Sandwich thin + peanut butter, orange


baked sweet potato + side salad

pasta + mushrooms + parmesan cheese = yummy pasta

Turkey on a Sand thin w/ lettuce.

I can eat an orange or grapefruit with any of these lunches


Apricot Chicken + broccoli

red onion+green pepper+ mushrooms, mozzarela cheese, pizza crust= pizza!

Snacks: rutabega fries, applesauce with cinnamon, yogurt, egg nog protein shake

My final grocery bill totaled: $33.08

I came out with a few staples, some extra snack bars for class and the red items to build my weeks meals. I have a ton of snacks now to choose from, 3 solid dinners that will include leftovers! That’s pretty good for a week full of meals. If I do say so myself!

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Filed under meal creation, organization, pantry items, shopping

Cooking For One

I have found that in my experience as a college student, one of my biggest challenges is cooking for me, myself and I. Cooking for one isn’t always the easiest. My first few years of college, I found myself wasting large amounts of uneaten leftovers, old produce and bread that was beginning to mold. Over the years, I have learned to use all of my on hand ingredients possible to make my meals and snacks before spending more money at the grocery store. Let’s face it- groceries aren’t cheap people! Especially on a college budget.

Here are some tips that I have found to be very useful in creating meals and buying groceries.

1. Before the grocery store- look in the pantry, write down all of the ingredients you have on hand. Rice, beans, flour, spices, soups (things that tend to stock up) can be very useful in getting creative with meals.

2. Take a look at the foods you do have. Can you think of any meals you could throw together? Try adding beans to the last bit of lettuce, use the last of the vegetables with the rice and make a quick stir-fry. It may take a bit of thinking, but will be well worth it when you begin saving money and enjoying more meals.

3. Once you stretch your on hand foods- write down staples you may need to get. If you are out of milk, bread or produce go ahead and get those at the store. Don’t forget about those on hand items! Combine pantry items with fresh items to get more for your money.

4. Make a list. I cannot stress this enough. A grocery list is crucial. I can go way overboard when I don’t prepare properly. I easily lose track of ingredients. I tend to forget the items I need and buy the ones I don’t.

5. Freeze! The freezer is a single cooks friend. Can’t eat a whole loaf of bread in a week? Go ahead a freeze half! Dividing up a pound of ground beef is easily done. I’ll often use half for spaghetti and the other for tacos. This way, I am not cooking all the meat and letting it go to waste on one meal.

Here are some meal ideas that I often use to utilize my on hand items:

Can of black beans + onion and eggs = Mexican scramble!

Bread that’s a little stale + eggs + cheese = Breakfast casserole

Add leftover roasted broccoli to can of soup for extra vitamins

Add canned pumpkin to oatmeal with cinnamon= pumpkin pie oatmeal!

Delicious pumpkin pie oats with pecans, raisins and shredded unsweetened coconut

With a little pre-planning, cooking for one can be so much easier and much less wasteful. With the help of a few reliable ingredients you can continue to have delicious and cost effective meals throughout the week!

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Filed under cooking for one, easy meals, pantry items