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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Extension Today: Cupboard Cleanout

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No menu for dinner, and your family is hungry? No worries and no need to order takeout! Keep a few basic ingredients in your pantry, and you can create a healthy, tasty meal in minutes to feed your hungry crew. Lisa Barlage, Extension educator, joins Jenny in the kitchen to share some quick and easy meal ideas using what you have on hand. Lisa and Jenny start with some chopped, cooked chicken and veggies, but the possibilities are endless  depending on what you've stocked up.

Think....quesadillas, chili, baked potatoes with a variety of toppings, spaghetti or lasagna, tuna casserole. Read on to learn more about how to stock your pantry for last-minute meal preparation any time.

We have many free fact sheets available on Ohioline. Check out these resources for valuable suggestions to store food properly and maintain quality over time, as well as how to buy and package bulk food for easier, less expensive use in multiple meals at home.

Just what are the components of a well-stocked pantry? Lisa's list includes:

  • Grains (ex. rice, pasta, tortillas, risotto)
  • Proteins (ex. tuna, beans, eggs, frozen chicken)
  • Veggies (ex. canned tomatoes and corn, canned or frozen mixed vegies, stir-fry mix)
  • Misc. items (ex. broth, cheese, herbs, spices)

See for yourself what you've got – and encourage your family to help you plan a great meal. Issue a "bet you can't do this as well as me" zinger; then open up that pantry and Try the Cupboard Clean-Out Cooking Challenge techniques that Lisa shares. This is also a great way to do something together, save money, and prevent food waste. It's hard to be a meal planner day in and day out. This is also a great way to help Find Inspiration to Fight Cooking Fatigue, as Jenny shares in a blog post.

As we all know, there seems to be a cookbook for everything these days; and they are numerous "quick and easy" recipe hacks to be found online and in cookbooks. If you spend a little time searching for some recipes with ingredients your family loves, you just might be able to create some new favorites at your own house! USDA's site features many recipes, as well as great ideas for incorporating healthy proteins,  vegetables, and fruits into all of your meals. The recipes use some fairly common ingredients and are easy and tasty to prepared. Be forewarned; many of them are already kid-approved! But don't take our word for it; check these ideas out for yourself:

The MyPlate program via USDA also provides valuable insight into many nutrition principles, as well as recipes you can use and adapt at home.