This week’s Real Food Meal Plan is all about using up the food I already have in the pantry and the freezer. I’ve managed to make a little room, but not much.
The return to school sees a return to menu planning for me. After two months of simple meals thrown together from festive leftovers and eating out with friends, reality has kicked back in. The Princess has quite a busy schedule this year, so planning our meals will become more necessary than ever if we don’t want to rely on take away.
My cupboards and freezer are bursting after we hosted Christmas, so I have been completing a mini Pantry Challenge over the last few weeks. The Pantry Challenge is a concept developed by Jessica from Good Cheap Eats as a way to use up food that is already on hand. The added bonus is that by eating the food we have, I am not spending extra money on additional food we don’t really need, and I can make some much needed space in the freezer.
My menus over the next few weeks will focus on what I already have on hand, supplemented by fresh fruits and vegetables from the market. This week we ate:
Stuffed Ricotta & Silverbeet Pasta Shells with Tomato Sauce.
Dinner for 1: Mr Grumpy and I had other plans, so I dug these stuffed shells out of the freezer. There were just enough for a meal for The Princess. I made a simple tomato sauce, using our tomato passata and some garlic, and poured it over the shells. This was dusted with some Parmesan and baked for 40 minutes.
Beef Ravioli with Slow Cooked Tomato Pasta Sauce
Whilst I don’t normally serve two pasta meals in a row, The Princess didn’t mind and we weren’t around for Sunday night’s meal, so pasta it was. I had some homemade beef ravioli taking up far too much space in the freezer. I tossed the lightly cooked pasta with my bottled tomato pasta sauce for a super quick meal.
Smoked Salmon, Yorkshire Pud, Beets & Asparagus from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals.
For some reason I
have had a lot of smoked salmon in the freezer, so this was a good way to use a few packets. This meal was quick to pull together and we all enjoyed it.
Chicken Adobo with Spinach & Sesame Salad, from Asian After Work. Served with steamed jasmine rice.
The Chicken Adobo recipe is a stove top dish, but as I had to collect The Princess late from school I chose to make it in the slow cooker. I did not add the additional water called for in the dish, as the marinade provided enough liquid, and I was very happy with the end result.
Roasted Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Salad. Served with fresh bread.
I roasted the remainder of the beetroot in our garden earlier in the week to make Tuesday’s dinner. There was enough left over for this salad, which made dinner very quick to get on the table.
Whilst the intention of a Pantry Challenge is to eat out of the freezer, I had lots of bones leftover from Christmas that were taking up much needed space. With a temporary reprieve in the hot weather this week, I took the opportunity to do some cooking.
I had four chicken carcasses which I turned into eight litres of chicken stock. As freezer space is at a premium, I then turned the liquid stock into chicken stock cubes, using the same method as for my Homemade Beef Stock Cubes. These take up far less space, and can easily be cut into small cubes for those times I only want a small amount of stock.
I had my butcher cut the leftover ham bone into smaller pieces for me and, in what is fast becoming a post-Christmas tradition, I made a large batch of Smoky Pea & Ham soup in the slow cooker. It won’t be soup weather for a few months yet, but the soup freezes well, and is easier to stack than the ham bone.
Wednesday night’s Chicken Adobo serves six people. I made the recipe as specified, then froze half of the dish. My stockpiling for winter has begun. So much for cleaning out the freezer.
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