We’ve all been there: Your typical grocery day is Monday, but it’s Sunday, and you’re incredibly hungry. Stopping by the store will throw off your entire weekly routine, but ordering in will make you feel kind of guilty – especially if you’re saving your money for something bigger than a pizza. When you do a mental food inventory, all that comes to mind is Italian dressing and a questionable carton of coffee creamer. There has to be something you can create with minimal ingredients, right?
Here are ten solid ideas that’ll help you use what you have while simultaneously curing your hunger pangs.
1. Ramen Noodle Spaghetti
Whether you’re a college student, or a graduate recollecting on the good memories, ramen is essential. If you cook your ramen and add a bit of leftover tomato sauce, you have a quick and easy spaghetti meal. If you have frozen pre-formed meatballs, feel free to add them to the mix. Out of spaghetti sauce? Try making a butter sauce with a hint of garlic.
Ramen can actually be a lot of fun to experiment with. The best part? It’s so cheap that if you screw up your masterpiece, it’s not a huge loss.
2. Banana Ice Cream
Bananas are a magical fruit. Not only can the peels be used to shine your shoes, but a banana can easily morph itself into your favorite dessert – ice cream. Yep, you read that right. You don’t even need milk, cream, or a fancy ice cream maker.
After cutting up your bananas, you’ll want to freeze them openly on a plate for a few hours. After that, you stick them in a blender, and viola!
3. Pasta Stir Fry
Vegetables are great to have in the house for obvious reasons, but let’s be honest – they have somewhat of a short shelf life. If you have some broccoli that will probably be tossed in a few days, it’d be way more beneficial to include it in a tasty pasta dish. In fact, there are few vegetables that aren’t complimented by pasta. Add everything you have, and you’ve created a feast!
4. Sour Cream and Bread
Okay, before you tell me that this is a disgusting meal, let me give you some background. Rumor has it that my grandfather ate it all the time, and it was a special (and easy) meal growing up that didn’t require too much Mom-prep. In short, it’s surprisingly good, and shut me up.
All you need to do is toast two pieces of bread to a golden brown. In the meantime, put some sour cream in a bowl, and add salt and pepper for flavor. Once your bread is toasted, cut (or rip – no judgment here) it into small pieces, mix it in with the sour cream until it’s all covered, and eat with a fork.
Back in the day, women received about 900 fondue pots as wedding presents – just ask your parents. It was the “in” gift, and everyone was up for a fondue party, am I right? Personally, I’ve never fondued (or should I just say that I “fondon’t“?) but these days, you can partake in the tasty dipping tradition without too many fancy tools. Or a big gathering.
For a cheese fondue, you’ll need a bunch of cheese – obviously. And while it’s preferred to use white wine, lemon juice would also be a good alternative that you probably have at home. Flour or cornstarch will be the perfect addition to add thickness. After shredding and melting the cheese concoction on a stove top, you’ll probably apply to MasterChef, since who knew you could make something so delicious so quickly?
6. Egg Drop Soup
If you have a bunch of eggs but don’t feel like making an omelet, consider egg drop soup. Using a chicken broth base, you can have a classy little dinner without too much time and materials. If you have green onions, they can serve as the perfect garnish. Who needs chinese take-out when you can create it yourself?
7. Peanut Butter and Jelly
Yeah, yeah. It seems like an easy solution. But peanut butter and jelly is perfect for all occasions, and it’s filling and not terrible for you – so, it’s included on the list. Plus, there’s a great chance that you already have some jam in the fridge and some peanut butter in the pantry. If you want to make it special, consider grilling your sandwich, or adding some bananas (you know – the ones left over after you made that ice cream above.)
8. Banana Bread
Speaking of bananas – have you ever tried making your own banana bread? It’s pretty simple. In fact, even I’ve made a few decent batches of it before, and I’m the worst chef on the East Coast. Ask anybody who knows me!
If your bananas are about to turn, remember that over-ripe bananas add even more flavor to banana bread. (And sure – it’s not really a “meal,” but it can be. I’m sure you’ve eaten worse. We can be honest with each other.)
9. Tuna Melt
If you’re looking for a good sandwich to make when your fridge is bare, consider a tuna melt. While you can definitely use real bread, consider making it fancy and breaking out an English Muffin. A can of tuna, some cheese, and spices of your choice will make this a pretty tasty meal. Plus, tuna is heart healthy and doesn’t cost a fortune.
If you have flour tortillas lying around the house, you have endless possibilities. One of my favorites is the quesadilla, which can be as intricate or simple as you want, based on your current stock of food.
Your quesadillas can include chicken, beans, or simply cheese. If you want to bump it up a notch, consider trying the “pizzadilla,” which we eat in our household once a week – even though it’d be once a day, if I had my wish. They’re that good.
For the pizzadilla, all you need is pizza sauce, cheese, and – if you have it – pepperoni. Not only are they delicious, but they’re healthier than ordering a large pizza for yourself. Consider cutting them up so that you can eat them with your hands, and dip them in the sauce.
What are some of your favorite creations when the fridge is bare?
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