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Make a meal with what’s on hand

Make a meal with what’s on hand

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Tara Dunker

Tara Dunker

Struggling to make meals with what you have on hand?

Whether you’re wanting to make a favorite recipe but are missing some ingredients, or you’re tired of buying ingredients you only use once, these examples can help spark your imagination.

Feel like pasta, but you’re missing the pasta sauce? Try tossing with olive or vegetable oil and garlic. Combine pesto or fresh tomatoes with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Additionally, you could top your pasta with chili or soup. For some soups, you may wish to drain away some liquid to make a thicker sauce.

Craving tacos or burritos, but you’re short on ingredients? If you’re out of tortillas, use rice instead for a delicious rice bowl. If you’re out of ground beef or chicken, use a can of black beans in place of the meat.

Drain and rinse the black beans. Sauté with one teaspoon of olive or vegetable oil and half of a taco seasoning packet for a plant-based meal.

Craving a burger, but you’re out of ground meat? Try making a salmon or tuna burger instead, using canned versions of these seafood options combined with egg, milk, bread or cracker crumbs and seasoning. Place on a bun, and enjoy with your favorite toppings.

I want a smoothie, but I’m out of yogurt! No problem, swap the yogurt out for applesauce, fruit juice, milk or frozen bananas. Add fruits—fresh, frozen or canned—you have on hand, and blend it up.

Hungry for pizza, but you’re missing some ingredients? Warm a tortilla shell in a skillet and top with your favorite pizza toppings. Or, use another type of crust like canned or homemade biscuits, English muffins, Naan bread or French rolls.

Make your own homemade pizza sauce by combining a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes, two tablespoons minced garlic, two teaspoons olive oil, one teaspoon sugar, one teaspoon salt and half a teaspoon black pepper. Add to a blender and pulse to desired consistency.

Save my salad—I’m out of dressing! Homemade salad dressing is a breeze with this simple salad equation. Simply add one cup oil with half a cup lemon juice or vinegar in a sealable container. Add one teaspoon garlic, one teaspoon salt and two teaspoons dried herbs of your choice. Shake until combined.

Your favorite meat marinade ran out? Use an oil and vinegar salad dressing, also known as a vinaigrette. It makes a great marinade.

Out of pasta for casseroles? Substitute another starchy food like cooked rice, cooked or canned potatoes, sweet potatoes, cooked or canned beans or lentils for pasta.

Out of fresh fruit? Add dried, canned or frozen fruit to your recipe. Dried fruits are very dense, so if you substitute them into a recipe, keep in mind the ratio of one cup of fresh fruit to about ¼ cup of dried.

Article originally authored by Alice Henneman, Nebraska Extension. Check out food.unl.edu for more everyday food and fitness tips.

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