What Can You Cook With Limited Ingredients?
By Heather Burdo
As you walk through the aisles in the grocery store, you may find yourself getting overwhelmed with a lack of options during this pandemic. Thankfully, hope is on the way because it seems like stores are putting restrictions in place so people can’t hoard.
Even with limited ingredients, you can make some delicious meals for your family.
Let’s start with 4 basic seasonings that you can put on almost everything
#1 Onion powder - You can spruce up chicken breast, steak, roast, pretty much any meat or even pasta with onion powder. If you happen to open up your cupboard and realize you’re almost out, don’t worry. All you need is an onion. One tablespoon of onion powder is roughly a half of an onion. All you have to do is chop up the onion and pour in with your food to cook.
#2 Ground cumin - With a unique earthy, nutty, and a tad spicy taste, cumin is ideal for chicken, pork, steak, tacos, and chili.
#3 Nutmeg - Most people have this seasoning and if you or your children don’t care for plain veggies, you can easily dress them up with nutmeg for a better taste.
#4 Garlic powder - With a little garlic, your dishes can boast with flavor. Even if your kids don’t tend to eat chicken, for example, try some olive oil and garlic or even just garlic by itself to make the chicken a bit tastier. If you don’t have garlic powder, mince up garlic yourself for the same great taste.
2 ideas to use up chicken
Chicken breast or chicken tenders are common staples in the home. Here are some great, easy, and fast ideas for dinner:
Homemade parmesan chicken - If you have tomato sauce and some seasoning, see what you can do to whip up your own version of parmesan and put it on the chicken before baking. If you have a little cheese, you could throw some on top about 5-10 minutes before the chicken is finished cooking. You can cook your chicken the way you normally would since you’re just adding a topping.
Breaded chicken - Homemade is better anyway, right? So, even if you don’t have ready-made bread crumbs around, see if you have crackers or bread. Crumble up the crackers or bread and add some seasonings. Get creative and think of what your family likes. An idea would be garlic, pepper, onion powder, and whatever else you have in the cupboard that would taste good. Maybe a little squeeze of lemon juice if you have some? Mix it together in one bowl. Crack an egg or two in a separate bowl. Coat your plain chicken breast or tenders in the egg mixture and then cover with the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a greased or tin foil-lined baking pan. Cook as you normally would.
3 ground beef ideas
You can get creative and do all sorts of things with ground beef. Here are some ideas when you’re limited on ingredients.
Goulash - All you need is the beef, macaroni, and sauce.
Tacos - Even if you don’t have the taco sauce or cheese, it’s still usually loved by many with just the taco meat and wraps. No wraps? Try it on tortilla chips or Doritos. Also, if you don’t have taco seasoning, throw your own together with some cumin, chili powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, pepper, and salt. You can choose how much of each ingredient to put in for your own customized taste.
Mini cheeseburgers - Throw together some mini cheeseburgers for the family. If you have french fries, cook those up with the meal. If you only have regular potatoes, it would be healthier to make your own french fries anyways, and a great time to use up those leftover potatoes.
Not into meat?
If you and your family prefer not to eat meat, use up anything you can in your cupboards. Sometimes those creative mixtures come out so good that it becomes a family favorite. For example, do you have rice, vegetables, beans, and salsa? Those main ingredients usually pair well.
Think of some different soups you can throw together with the vegetables and other ingredients you do have. Get the kiddos involved in making stuff together. Allow them to get creative and see what they think would taste good in the soup - within reason of course! - Not only does that help kids feel involved, but they may be more apt to eat it knowing they were part of the process.
Remember, loading up on veggies - which is ideal for everyone anyways - is a good idea to make the meat and other main ingredients stretch. Do you have any other ideas for our fellow families? We’d love to hear. We’re all in this together.
Heather is a freelance writer from New York. When she isn't writing about parenting, she is tending to her own two handsome boys. She enjoys all things related to motivation and mindset. All work aside, she enjoys activities outdoors and being with her family.
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