Cheap Eats

Pantry Meal Planning

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Do you ever look at your overcrowded closet and think to yourself, “I have a ton of clothes but nothing to wear.” Well, that’s how I feel about my pantry right now. SO much food, but no meals ideas.

Xavier and I recently dove head first in to the crazy world of house hunting. It’s been a two-week long whirlwind experience, but luckily, we’ve had a wonderful team rooting us on. We found a great house, and we’ve put in an offer (scary!), so here’s to hoping the rest goes smoothly. Since it’s a very distinct possibility that Xavier and I will be moving in just 30 days, we spent the weekend cleaning, organizing and tidying, preparing our rental home to be shown. In an effort to spend as little as possible at the grocery store over the next couple of weeks and clean out our bursting pantry and freezer, Xavier and I decided to see just how creative we could get with our meal planning. Here’s the list we came up with.

Honey-Soy Tilapia with Chickpea & Avocado Salad

Whenever the frozen packs of salmon and tilapia are on sale, we stock up. Fish is always a nice change, and it can be prepared very quickly. I will most likely pan sear the tilapia and make a honey-soy glaze- one tbsp honey, one tbsp soy. We already have tilapia, honey and soy sauce in the house, so this one is easy peasy.

We also have an abundance of canned beans, so you may see a theme in this post. Chickpea & Avocado Salad from Two Peas & Their Pod sounds fresh and simple. I’m going to nix the cilantro and green onion, and I already have chickpea and feta, so all I will need to purchase are two avocados and a lime (about $1.50 total)

Kielbasa White Bean Soup

Soup seems to be an easy choice because I have several 4-cup boxes of Chicken and Vegetable Broth and, as I mentioned before, a ton of beans. This White Bean & Spinach Soup from It’s My Side of Life calls for kielbasa (need), broth (have), garlic (skip), oregano (have), olive oil (have), white beans (have), tomatoes (I’ll sub with a can of fire roasted tomatoes), baby spinach (I’ll sub with frozen spinach). So really the only thing I need is the kielbasa (about $2.50 total)

Pasta with Marinara and Tempeh

We have several jars of pasta sauce, I have some tempeh in the fridge, and pasta is inexpensive, so this is another good one, and quick to make! Even if you don’t have tempeh, pasta and red sauce is still a good option, or you could replace the tempeh with lentils if you have those. (about $1.20 total cost)

Summer Sausage Chili

This is a full-on pantry/freezer meal, and I couldn’t be more proud. I made this with:

  • 1 can white chili beans, with liquid
  • 1 can red kidney beans, with liquid
  • 1/2 can corn, drained
  • 2 cans fire roasted tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 lb summer sausage (from the freezer, homemade by my dad)
  • ~2 tsp chili powder
  • ~1 tsp cumin
  • ~1/2 tsp garlic powder

If I didn’t have the summer sausage, it still would have made for a great vegetarian chili. I probably would have added another can of beans to bulk it up. ($0 total)

Marcella Valladolid Al Pastor Pork with frozen veggies

Have I told you how in love I am with Safeway’s Marcella Valladolid line? She makes these incredibly well seasoned meats, and you don’t have to do a single thing to them besides grill ’em up. I have a pack of Al Pastor Pork in my freezer, so I’m going to pull that down to defrost and have Xavier grill it, and we will serve it with a side of veggies from the freezer as well. We’ve got quite a few bags of Birdseye steamers, so we will have a few choices. ($0 total cost)

Turkey Burgers with Honey Glazed Brussels

Turkey Loaf is one of Xavier’s favorite meals, but I much prefer it in burger form. All the recipe calls for is ground turkey (check), bbq sauce (check), feta (check), and spices (check). Instead of buying buns, we’ll just use regular bread- we always try to keep a loaf stashed in the freezer.

To accompany the burgers, I’m going to do some simple honey glazed brussels. I have honey, frozen brussels and oil, and that’s all you need! I haven’t done this in awhile, but the plan is to preheat the oven to 375/400, defrost the brussels in the microwave, cut in half and toss in oil (about 1 tbsp for 3 cups of brussels), roast for 10 minutes, turn, roast for another 10, coat with honey (~1 tbsp) and roasted for another couple minutes. ($0 total cost)

Tuna Sandwiches

Hey, this is pretty much as simple as it gets. Straight forward: tuna, mayo, american cheese, bread. BAM. ($0 total cost)


Another classic! ($0 total cost)

Egg Sandwiches

We ate egg sandwiches a lot when I was a kid. Scrambled eggs, cheese, toast. ($0 total)

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Heck, we make grilled cheese even when we have a full fridge. Bread, cheese, butter. Mayo if you’re fancy. We will indeed by another loaf of bread at this point, but we’ve got soup in the pantry. ($3.38 total cost- I buy fancy bread, don’t judge)

Vegan Lasagna Roll Ups

We have several jars of pasta sauce an no-boil lasagna noodles. I’m going to make some vegan lasagna rolls ups based on Jenna Weber’s Dairy-Free Spinach Stuffed Shells recipe.

For the tofu-ricatta you need: olive oil (check), salt (check), oregano (check), tofu (check), garlic (skip), nutritional yeast (check- though I don’t think this is completely necessary if you don’t have it) and frozen spinach (check). ($0 total cost)


SO that comes to a total of 11 meals, and I’m sure I will come up with a few more! Several of these meals will make enough for leftovers (soup, chili, pork, turkey burgers, lasagna roll ups, pasta), so we’ll be covered for lunches, too. Paired with some other freezer meals I stashed away and pantry items (canned soup, ramen), we can easily get by for two weeks on $8.58 for the above meals plus $6.98 for the following: 32 ounce bag of baby carrots for my lunches (about $2.98), OJ for Xavier ($3) and Bananas (about $1-2) for breakfast along side my usual maple cinnamon oatmeal (pantry). Xavier already has bagels in the freezer and cream cheese in the fridge. Grand total: $16.56

There are still so many possibilities. Sometimes you really need to take a look at all of that food you’re hoarding in your fridge, freezer and pantry and get creative!

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