Making Ends Meet – Eat What You Have


In response to my challenge a few days ago, Sarah posted this list:

As far as what’s on hand that’s fresh in the fridge/freezer
– stale brown bread (homemade, not sliced)
– bowl of baby spinach
– grated cheese
– one mushy pear
– some shallots
– ginger
– 2 carrots
– 1 zuchini
– 1/2 red cabbage
– 1/2 butternut pumpkin
– 1 onion (maybe)
– miso soup paste (would love to use this up)

In addition she added this link to her post about the contents of her pantry which is very well stocked.

Sarah also added that she always had access to eggs and milk.

Whenever you are trying to use what food you have on hand, it is important to look at the perishable items first.  These will go rotten or become unusable soonest so it is important to use them.

The first meal that comes to mind is Cheese Souffle.  This is a recipe that my mother would make, probably when ingredients were a bit thin on the ground but I really loved it and do make it from time to time.  Here is the recipe.


2 eggs
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
½ cup milk
1 onion – finely chopped
1 cup grated cheese

Soak breadcrumbs in milk.  Separate eggs.  Beat egg yolks.  Add all other ingredients.  Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into mixture.  Pour into greased  ovenproof dish and bake for about 40 minutes at 180 degrees.

I would shred some of the cabbage and grate a carrot.  Toss together with ‘French Dressing’ made from oil and lime juice whisked together.

Since the oven will be on to cook the souffle I would make sure a least one other item is cooked as well to get maximum value for money.

You could make Pear & Ginger muffins for snacks.  Using the gluten-free flour and other baking ingredients from the pantry make a basic muffin mix and add grated ginger and the mushy pear.  HINT:  Remove the seeds but you can roughly chop the pear up including the skin.  You could also add a few sultanas or chopped nuts for interest.

The night before you make the Cheese Souffle you could soak some lentils and then cook them ready to use.

Make a lentil and vegetable lasagne using the prepared lentils, sliced zucchini and the remaining carrot grated.  Cook the lentils, carrot and canned tomatoes with preferred herbs/spices.  Make bechamel sauce using milk, butter and flour.  Layer these with lasagne sheets and slices of zucchini and grated cheese.  Top with grated cheese and bake in the oven.  This can be refrigerated and reheated for a meal the next night.  You can also divide it into portions and freeze.

The remaining lentils could be mixed with some cooked pumpkin, finely shredded cabbage and chickpea flour to make vegie burgers.  These could be served with sweet chilli sauce on a bed of wilted spinach.

I am not familiar with miso soup paste but from my research I would make miso soup and perhaps add some udon noodles for added substance.

Tuna mornay is another meal that comes to mind.  Flour, milk, butter, grated cheese and the tin of tuna form the basis of this meal which is served with rice.  I generally add frozen peas and corn kernels to the mixture.

Since Sarah does not keep meat on hand or have a great deal of fresh fruit or vegetables at the moment there is a limit to what can be created without compromising her nutritional status.  Contrary to popular opinion, fruit and and vegetables are not outrageously expensive.  Remember, to only buy what you need and buy what is in season where possible.  Make a plan using as many ingredients that you have and only buy exactly the quantities that you need to create the meal.

Remember to use the basic ingredients in the pantry to extend the meat and vegetables.  I have done this with the lasagne and also mornay mixture.  Other options could be crepes or pies where you could stretch the filling to feed extra mouths.

Another option for the stale bread would be to slice it and make bread cases for pie or mornay filling.

Would you you have done something different with the listed ingredients?