Making a Meal with What's on Hand

food in a refrigerator

Author:  Alice Henneman, MS, RDN, UNL Extension in Lancaster County

Are you tired of buying ingredients for which you use only part of the food in a recipe? Do you end up tossing the remaining portion of the package a couple of months later. Is there any way around this?

Think of a cookbook as not just 100 recipes, but 100 starters leading to 1,000's of meals advises an article in "Tastings," a publication of the Food and Culinary professionals practice group of the American Dietetic Association.

The article recommends that you feel free to move off the beaten path if a recipe requires ingredients you don't have on hand.

Here are some examples to spark your imagination:

  • Want to make sandwiches, but you've just eaten your last slice of bread? Use tortillas, pita bread, rolls or focaccia instead.
  • Feel like pasta, but you're missing the pasta sauce? Try topping your pasta with chili or a favorite soup you may have on hand. (NOTE: for some soups, you may wish to add less liquid so they make a thicker sauce.)
  • No ingredients for a meat marinade? Marinate the meat with your favorite vinegar and oil salad dressing.
  • Need a side dish for your meat and you're completely out of vegetables? Try sliced, sautéed fruit, such as apples or mangoes.
  • What if there's no wine to add to a sauce? Perhaps fruit preserves might work equally well.

See related article: How to Make a Casserole from What's on Hand