Flexible recipes to use up what’s in your pantry, freezer, and fridge

The recipes in this post were developed by Kate Sherwood, The Healthy Cook, and were taste-tested in the Nutrition Action Test Kitchen. Have a comment, question, or idea? Email Kate at healthycook@cspinet.org.

Here are 6 flexible ideas for using up what you have on hand.

Make fried rice or a stir-fry from your leftover vegetables.

The beauty of fried rice or a stir-fry is that you can vary the vegetables to suit what’s in your fridge. Try carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, or any type of cabbage. To turn your fried rice into a meal, add fried or scrambled egg or a chopped omelet.

Make a soup, curry, or stew.

Got lentils? Try a French lentil stew or red lentil curry. Or whip up a white bean soup that relies on only carrots and a handful of pantry staples. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Make Smokin’ Paprika Chicken.

Got boneless, skinless chicken breasts in your freezer? This smoky, juicy chicken recipe makes enough to cook once and eat twice. Serve it with a whole grain (like quinoa) and stir-fried veggies for dinner, then add the leftover chicken to a salad for lunch.

Make a batch of peanut dressing.

You’re just 5 or 6 ingredients away from an addictive dressing to drizzle on lettuce wraps, salads, and whole-wheat noodle bowls. Mmm.

Make a pot of stewed beans.

While great by themselves, basic stewed beans are also a flexible base for dozens of dishes. Here are three ideas to get you started.

Make your own vegetable stock.

If you’re cooking at home more often, don’t toss your vegetable scraps. Store peels, skins, tops, cores, etc., in the freezer until you collect enough for a batch of stock.

Photos: Kate Sherwood and Jennifer Urban/CSPI.

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