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Here’s How to Turn Food Pantry Staples into Delicious Meals


Volunteer Jill Erny, proper, of Coppell, Texas, provides cartons of eggs to a driver throughout a Tarrant Area Food Bank cell pantry distribution occasion in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo

Pandemic-related layoffs and earnings loss have pushed many individuals to group meals pantries for the primary time of their lives.

According to Feeding America, about 4 out of each 10 individuals who visited a meals financial institution from March via June of final yr have been first-time guests. As the winter holidays approached, greater than 80% of meals pantries have been serving extra folks than the yr prior.

Economic considerations have precipitated numerous others to turn into extra aware of their spending — resorting to low cost staples somewhat than dearer choices on the grocery retailer.

Getting groceries from a meals pantry and decreasing meals spending will be nice on the pockets, however you may additionally want to modify to cooking and making ready meals in another way. We spoke to registered dietitian and nutritionist Wendy Wesley for recommendation on how to make nutritious, tasty meals utilizing components from meals pantries.

How to Turn Cheap Pantry Staples Into Delicious Meals

Canned items shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to creating nice meals, Wesley stated.

“I keep an arsenal of canned beans in my pantry at all times,” she stated.

The key to making satisfying dishes from low cost components is to incorporate kitchen staples like onion, garlic, peppers, spices, dried herbs, butter and eggs.

“You get rice and beans from a food pantry and then you doctor that up with your onion, your green pepper and your garlic and you use chili powder, garlic powder [and] onion powder,” Wesley stated.

One of her favourite low cost meals to make is black bean soup, utilizing a can of black beans together with onion, garlic and inexperienced pepper.

“There is something magical about black beans,” Wesley stated. “For maybe a dollar or two in ingredients, you have this meal that is very hearty, very filling, full of fiber and is going to stay with you for a long time.”


Wendy Wesley, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, recommends utilizing canned items and kitchen staples when making an inexpensive meal. One reasonably priced meal Wesley enjoys making is black bean soup. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Another of her cheap meal concepts: Crack some eggs you choose up out of your neighborhood meals financial institution into a pan with onions, peppers and perhaps tomatoes and mushrooms. You could make an enormous scramble for lower than a greenback.

Pro Tip

Think meals pantries solely give out non-perishable canned meals? Think once more. Many additionally distribute a very good share of perishable components like eggs, dairy merchandise, bread, contemporary produce and extra.

When it comes to preserving your kitchen stocked with these supplementary meal-enhancing components, Wesley recommends choosing up just a few gadgets right here and there whenever you grocery store.

“If you went to the store and tried to buy it all in one day or one shopping trip it would be quite expensive,” she stated.

Spices, particularly, will be fairly expensive, so search for cheaper manufacturers.

“We don’t need very expensive ingredients to have delightful and tasty meals at home,” she stated.

How to Stretch Your Ingredients and Your Dollars

Whether you’ve bought a household to feed otherwise you’re simply making an attempt to make meals last more for your self, making your components stretch means extra bang to your buck.

Add beans and veggies to stretch meat dishes.

“I’ll bulk up taco meat with onions and green peppers and tomatoes, so it’s a little bit of meat and a lot of vegetables,” Wesley stated, for instance. “Or I’ll bulk it up with beans, so it’s a little bit of meat and a lot of beans.”

Those additional components additionally add fiber — one thing each American wants extra of, she stated.

Adding a grain — like rice, quinoa or barley — to a meal can even assist make a dish stretch. Wesley likes cooking a bunch of 1 grain over the weekend so she has it prepared to add to meals all through the week.

Preparing servings prematurely can even prevent time on busy weekdays — and saving time will be so precious. No extra grabbing quick meals on these days when you haven’t any power to cook dinner. The meals is already prepared.

Nicole Dow is a senior author at The Penny Hoarder.

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