I don’t meal plan. Which is about the biggest sin in a household that is watching it’s budget. But I struggle there because I hate being told what to do (even by myself) so usually what happens is I get to that day and don’t feel like making whatever I had picked out. So in order to keep our food budget under control I use the stocked pantry method. We have a handful of recipes that we love and I always have those ingredients on hand. They don’t take a long time to make, are always yummy and make enough for dinner and lunches for both of us to take to work! Best of all, they only use one pot or pan to make!
Three of our favorites include Egg Scramble, Veggie Rice, and One Pot Pasta! Even better, they are totally flexible recipes that can be customized to your preferences and on hand ingredients. We eat a flexitarian/locavore diet. That means we are mostly vegetarian in our meals with the occasional meat (mostly a small piece used for flavoring rather than the focus of the meal) and eat fresh, in season, local food as much as possible. We like to be flexible and never put ourselves in one box so these recipes allow for flexibility and you could make them different every single time!
Egg Scramble– This is one of my favorite meals, it’s delicious and works great for making frozen breakfast burritos as well as a yummy leftovers! When I make egg scramble I always use carrots, potatoes and onions as my base. From there I add whatever odds and ends veggies I have on hand and then add the eggs and cheese. If I want to make burritos I let it cool and then spoon it onto flour (or corn whichever is your preference) tortillas. Wrap them up and stick them in the freezer. These are great for a quick, hot breakfast and they are very popular. It’s also really flexible in how much you want to make, if you’re cooking for one it’s easy to make a little, cooking for a whole family not hard to expand the recipe at all. When I make it for me and Dustin I plan for a large helping for our meal and then enough for both of us to take for lunch.
4 medium russet potatoes (more if you’re using red skins, or small new potatoes)
4-5 carrots (depending on size and I love carrots so I always go with a lot)
½ of one large onion (or just one smaller onion)
5-6 eggs scrambled
½ cup of shredded cheese (I use Colby jack, but anything works)
Peel the potatoes and carrots, dice them up I usually go with ¼ inch cubes for the potatoes the larger the pieces the longer it takes to cook. Heat up your skillet and add a dash of olive oil. Dump the veggies into your hot skillet, add seasoning. I like just pepper and salt and garlic. If I have fresh garlic cloves I will add that otherwise just minced garlic. Sautee until potatoes and carrots are soft. At this point I will add whatever other veggies I have on hand, usually peppers, broccoli is amazing, the sky is the limit. Once the vegetables are cooked through I add the eggs and cheese and stir until the eggs are cooked through. Voila. You’re done. Seriously, that’s it. Enjoy. If you want, you can also add additional protein by sautéing ground sausage or protein crumbles first and then adding the veggies.
This is another one that is super easy to expand upon the amounts you are making as well as being able to add meat if you want. When we are feeling like chicken I love using this recipe and dicing up a chicken breast (see that’s more than enough meat for us again for 4 meals) really small and sautéing it in your hot skillet before adding the vegetables. I have an impossible time trying to make rice in anything but my skillet it always clumps and either is over cooked or under cooked. But when I make this recipe it works every time. The base I use for this recipe is carrots, onion, and frozen peas. But again I will throw in anything I have on hand!
3-4 carrots, peels and finely diced
½ of one large onion (or one small onion) finely diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
12 oz of broth (I love Meijer Naturals vegetable broth, but chicken or beef broth works as well, or in a pinch water)
24 oz of water (I refill the broth can twice, if you’re using just plain water do 36 oz of water total)
2 -2 ½ cups of rice (white or brown, whatever you have on hand)
Start with the carrots and onion (or finely diced meat if that’s your preference) and sauté on medium high with olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic until the onion is translucent and the carrots have softened. If you are using other fresh vegetables add them at this point. Peppers are really good, if you are adding broccoli again save that for last. Overcooked broccoli is criminal. Add the broth and water and let it come to a boil. Once it’s at a boil add the rice and stir well. Keep an eye on it because you don’t want the rice to burn to the bottom of the pan so stir often. I will usually put the lid on the pan at this point to make sure the rice gets thoroughly cooked, add more water if necessary. Once the liquid is soaked into the rice add your frozen veggies (and broccoli if using) stir them in and turn off the stove. Let the mixture sit with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Enjoy! This is another recipe that tastes amazing the next day for lunch and is super customizable. Start to finish it usually takes me about 30-40 minutes.
One Pot Pasta–
This was a recipe born completely out of poverty. I literally had only pasta and stewed tomatoes in the house and no money to go shopping. So I figured it out. Since then I’ve added to it because I can but it is just fine with even those two ingredients!
1-2 carrots peeled and diced finely
½ onion diced finely
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
2 cups water (broth works nicely to thicken up the sauce if you prefer)
Spaghetti (or whatever pasta you prefer, I’ve even done it with tortellini before)
Sautee your carrots and onion until soft, add whatever other veggies you have on hand or want. And again if you want to have meat you would do that at this time. Finely diced chicken works really well for this, or shredded chicken. But I think it’s yummy without. Add your stewed tomatoes and liquid let it come to a boil and then add your pasta. Stir occasionally until the pasta is cooked. That’s it, your done! Seriously delicious and healthy this pasta will have a nice light ‘sauce’ and it warms up really nicely for lunch the next day.
These three meals make up a good staple of our diet, we have at least one of them a week. They are quick and easy, customizable so we never get bored, healthy and inexpensive. You can make them as spicy or mild as you want by adding additional spices or sauces, Dustin likes to add soy sauce to the rice and call it stir fry. I’m pretty boring (and have very active taste buds) so I like to keep it simple. But that’s the beauty, you can do whatever you want to make these meals as elaborate or as simple as you want! Plus, other than the knife and cutting board the only dishes you have to clean up is the pot you cooked it all in! I love that since we don’t have a dishwasher. I use a sturdy 12 in pan for the scramble and rice and a Dutch oven, a deeper pot with a lid but not as deep as a soup pot, for the pasta and they work really nicely.