Can someone help me with a menu plan? I have a ton of stuff in the pantry!
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  1. #1
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    Default Can someone help me with a menu plan? I have a ton of stuff in the pantry!

    I am really, REALLY not good at menu planning. I also have an overflowing pantry and the need to eat down the pantry to more manageable amounts.

    Here's my list:

    6 cake mixes
    2 bisquick mixes
    7 bags of sugar
    1 bag of flour
    1 box brown sugar
    1 can chili
    2 cans crushed tomatoes
    6 cans tomato sauce
    1 tomato paste
    10 cans of soup
    5 condensed soups
    1 can of pineapple chunks
    2 crushed pineapple
    2 cranberry sauce
    1 pear halves
    5 whole kernel corn
    3 cream corn
    15(!) green beans
    4 sweet peas
    3 field peas
    3 mix veg
    2 whole potato
    2 sliced carrots
    8 spaghetti sauce
    3 gravy
    2 chicken broth
    2 canned hams
    1 turnip greens
    2 sloppy Joe sauce
    1 evap milk
    1 large enchilada sauce
    1 pinto bean
    1 water chestnuts
    1 canned chow mein
    3 jars salsa
    38(!) packages oatmeal
    6 boxes cereal
    20 packets grits
    8 boxes hamburger helper
    6 chicken helper
    2 tuna helper
    6 Mac n cheese
    2 scalloped potato
    1 stuffing
    1 pasta salad
    14 pasta sides
    18 rice sides
    6 boil in bag rice
    17 boxes spaghetti
    13 Fettuccini
    6 penne
    5 macaroni
    2 rotini
    1 rotelle
    2 lasagna
    7 egg noodles
    1 manicotti
    13 ramen
    1 shells
    1 box + 2 bags instant mashed potatoes
    4 pounds Lima beans
    1 pound pinto
    2 pounds black beans with rice
    2 pounds blackeye peas

    The pile of pasta boxes is as tall as my daughter...

    Can anyone help me? We're a family of four, but I have 2 teen boys. Both 6' tall and eating like there's an apocalypse around the corner.

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    Do you have any meat? Can you get some?
    I see pancakes and waffles in your future?
    veg beef soup,stew,fettucini alfredo w/ chicken,spaghetti
    take the flour and make tortillas w/ rice and beans
    I make chili and chicken noodle soup and casseroles this time of year.
    HB eggs were a staple this time of year. More input please like can ya cook. How are you at basic sauces

  3. #3
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    I can follow a recipe. I've never made a sauce from scratch. Willing to try!

    I have meat and can buy more as needed.

    I know I have in the freezer one whole frozen turkey, one frozen turkey breast only, one ham - can't recall if it's a presliced "spiral" or not. I have nearly 3 doz eggs in the freezer. I probably have cooking oil, but I can buy more if I need. I have shredded cheese in the fridge. Oh! I have plenty of butter in the fridge/freezer too!

    I am not opposed to buying things to make meals from what's in the pantry, but I really need help because I am very bad at this kind of thing. I'll end up in the store buying more pasta because I can't remember what kind we have at home. Which is why we cleaned out the pantry today. A 3 hour job! And I made an inventory list.

    We ate from the pantry for dinner. I had several miscellaneous bits of pasta in ziploc baggies and alfredo sauce and canned chicken. Boom! Dinner.
    Last edited by dansamy; 02-07-2015 at 03:58 AM.

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  5. #4
    Registered User Ayanka's Avatar
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    First of all, I am European, so some of the ingredients on the list are foreign to me. I am familiar with this kind of pantry. I have been trying to eat one down for a while and combined with the fear I will have no food, that is not easy for me.

    My first suggestion: do you like pasta? You have a lot of times the combination of pasta (fettucinni, macaroni,penne...) and spaghetti sauce or tomato somethings to make quite a lot of pasta. You could use part of the ham in it if you want, buy ground beef to at to it (its cheap inhere, not sure about the US) or just add veggies and call it veggie day. If you need to keep it cheap, are onions and carrots as cheap there as they are inhere?

    Second suggestion: for the egg noodles (and maybe you could also use the spaghetti for this) make stir fry. No you don't need the special stuff for it, just oil will do. You could also use some of the eggs to make an omelette, cut it in chunks and add it to the stir fry. Add some chili powder/other spices if you want to spice things up. I would also add some more veggies, but I generally just buy a package to make this, so not really suggestions on the veggies.

    For the green beans I would like to give this as a suggestion: Green Bean and Pasta Salad Recipe | Real Simple. Please note this is what some google search gave me, I haven't tried it myself.

    I hope someone else will be able to help you more with the pile of beans, as that is not something I am familiar with

  6. #5
    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Turkey noodle soup would be good.

    Here's a recipe we used a lot when we had five teens eating us out of house and home. Everyone loved it and there was never any left.

    Goulash

    1 to 2 pounds hamburger, browned with a chopped onion if desired (you can also add some sliced celery)
    1 or 2 boxes of mac and cheese (the kind with the powdered cheese)
    1-28 oz. can chopped tomatoes (if what you have is whole tomatoes, cut them up yourself, or if you have crushed tomatoes or some other form, those will work fine too)
    1 lb. bag frozen peas
    1 can whole kernel corn, if desired, drained
    1 or 2 (or more) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or whatever beans you like or have or a mixture of different kinds)
    1/2 cup or so of milk
    Chili powder to taste (for a big batch, start with about 1/4 cup and add more as desired)
    Brown the hamburger and drain. Meanwhile, boil the pasta from the mac and cheese boxes as directed on the box. When it's done, drain it. Once the hamburger is browned, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle the cheese packets from the mac and cheese and the chili powder so they're less likely to clump. If the mixture seems too dry, add water or milk a couple tablespoons at a time till it reaches optimum creaminess. This freezes very well. As weird as it sounds, it's good served in a sandwich using buttered bread, too. There's not much you can do to mess this up, so feel free to experiment.

    Keep in mind you can substitute one type of pasta for another in any recipe, except you can't swap wheat pasta for white pasta without adjusting cooking times because wheat pasta has to cook longer. If you mix pastas, mix types that have similar sizes so it all cooks evenly. Pasta is all the same, just different shapes. Get creative too, so for example if you want lasagna and don't have any noodles, just use a thin layer of some other type of pasta in place of the noodles and you'll be fine. I've done that when I've had an overabundance of macaroni rings, thin spaghetti, fettucini, and some other types of pasta. Don't have spaghetti? Use macaroni instead. Same flavor, just a different shape. You can even sub something like fettucini for egg noodles in soups or with spaghetti. If you have big pasta and need small pasta, break it up. Remembering pasta is pretty much interchangeable might help you keep from overbuying in the future.

    Here's another recipe we use a lot, especially when we travel.

    SPAM Pasta Salad

    1 can SPAM luncheon meat, cubed, or equivalent of diced ham
    8 oz. frozen peas, or, in a pinch, canned peas, drained
    8 oz. small pasta, cooked (macaroni, rings, small shells, whatever you have on hand)
    1/2 cup dill pickles or olives, diced or sliced
    4-8 oz. cheese, cubed, if desired
    A squirt of yellow mustard, if desired
    Coarse ground black pepper, if desired
    Mayo to taste (or a mix of sour cream and mayo)
    Mix all together. If you aren't going to be serving it right away, you may want to mix the mayo in shortly before serving because the pasta will soak it up and it'll dry out the salad. No big deal, it's just not as creamy then. You can add more mayo if that happens, if you want. We usually leave the mayo out when we travel and then we each mix it in our individual portions. This salad will keep for a week doing it that way.

    Don't be shy about swapping similar things in recipes to suit what you have on hand. If the recipe calls for hamburger but you have chicken instead, dice it up and brown it and use it in place of the hamburger, for example. Chances are it'll be perfectly tasty. Do keep in mind if the ingredient you're swapping is cooked or raw though, and adjust accordingly. So if your recipe calls for raw broccoli to be cooked in the dish, and you want to use canned green beans instead, add the green beans toward the end of cooking if possible, so they don't get mushy.

    We quit buying brown sugar years ago now. Instead, we use white sugar and add molasses to taste. A bottle of molasses goes a long way and then we don't have to store bags of brown sugar that take up more space. Brown sugar is just molasses and white sugar anyway.

    I didn't notice any bottled salad dressings on your list, but if you're trying to use those up, remember they make great marinades. We sometimes buy a new dressing and find out we don't like it for salads, so we use it for a marinade and have never been disappointed.

    Except for all that pasta, your list doesn't seem all that outlandish to me, not when you have teens to feed. But I can certainly understand the out of control pantry, having had the same problem myself at times.

  7. #6
    Registered User MakeADollarHollar's Avatar
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    I've got some ideas…

    Bisquick and Grits = Breakfast for dinner
    Bisquick can also be a base or a topping for many casseroles like pot pies or enchilada type dishes

    Condensed soups - depending on the type = casseroles - Chicken Noodle Casserole, Tuna Noodle Casserole and a wide variety of others. One of my weeknight Go-To's when time is tight is 1 can Cream of Chicken, 1 Cup Sour Cream, Leftover (or canned) Chicken, any veggie on hand (canned or frozen). Stir all together, bake 20-30 minutes until bubbly. Sometimes I add some already prepared Stove Top Stuffing to the top if we need something starchy.

    Cream of Chicken Soup + Sour Cream = super easy and delicious Chicken Enchiladas.

    Green Bean Casserole - I prefer Cream of Broccoli in my Green Bean Casserole

    Cream of Mushroom Soup + Enchilada Sauce (and sometimes Green Chiles) = a good base for beef. I'll either add cooked ground beef or thinly sliced Sirloin Steak to the mix in the crock pot. If ground beef we'll have over noodles or rice, if sliced steak I'll add lots of bell peppers and onion to the mix with some taco seasoning and make a knock-off fajita or have over rice.

    Cream of Chicken Soup + Enchilada Sauce (and sometimes Green Chiles) = a good base for chicken or pork. I've actually got this in the crock pot now with pork for lunches next week.

    Canned Hams - I keep these on hand because I love Ham Salad Sandwiches. I'll take a whole Dak Ham and whiz it in the food processor with mayo, maybe sweet relish if I'm in the mood. Lunches for the husband and I for the week.

    You also have Pineapple and Cranberry Sauce = Ham Dinner

    "Helpers" with Green Beans

    Egg Noodles with casseroles or soups

    Ramen = Salad. I've never made one myself but have been to a handful of potlucks where Oriental Ramen Salads were served. Every one has been absolutely delicious and is on my list of things to make this summer so I can find my favorite.

    Black Eyed Peas, Bisquick Biscuits, Ham Dinner

    Chow Mein, Water Chestnuts, Pineapple = Stir Fry

    Sloppy Joes with Turnips and/or Field Peas

    Canned Peas = I love canned peas in my Tuna Salad (along with tiny diced celery and carrots.) It seems to mellow out the fishy flavor. Most times I'll eat it as a sandwich but sometimes I'll add small shell pasta and eat it with a spoon/fork.

    Cream Corn - Seems as though I did a Cream Corn Casserole some years back. If I remember correctly we actually enjoyed it but I can't recall what the details were. Might be worth a google.

    Bust up some of that pasta and add to salads like Ham, Tuna or Chicken to make it go further or add to your Sloppy Joes or Chili to make it all go further.

    Hope that gave you some ideas.

  8. #7
    Registered User khaski's Avatar
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    Quick ideas- mix cranberry sauce and 1 can of crushed pineapple, pour over meat (pork?chicken?) to cook in crockpot or oven, serve with or over rice. You can add in some apple or green pepper into the mix if you have them.
    -The black beans and rice mixes can be pepped up by mixing in some of the salsa you have, along with a can of corn, maybe top with a little shredded cheese if available to make serve in a bowl or tortilla.
    -The canned corn and peas can be layered with ground meat (turkey or beef) mixed with gravy to make a nice shepherd's pie if you have some mashed potatoes to top it off.
    -Canned pears + oatmeal and sugar= some sort of cobbler. I have no specific recipe for it, but would bet you could google to find one for a quick, tasty treat.

  9. #8
    Registered User MakeADollarHollar's Avatar
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    Two more thoughts as I reviewed your list one last time…

    Lasagna noodles - instead of a traditional lasagna make Roll-Ups. You can fill them with just about anything, including veggies, Refried Beans and/or meat, then cover with a more mexican-style sauce (cream of whatever soup + enchilada sauce??) and for the manicotti - stuff them something un-traditional. I've done Mexican Stuffed Shells before. When the husband was expecting an Italian dish I pulled out something more Tex-Mex and it made the meal that much more interesting, fun and delicious.

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    Yay! Thanks for the ideas! I got starting points at least.

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    make sure you included tortillas in your pile. Any bits of leftover meat,a little rice and cheese and its a good kid meal.

    Also
    We used to get day old bagels or pitas at the bread store. A little sauce/cheese
    and a toaster oven. Pizza. We have done ham,pepperoni,pineapple out of L O. scraps

    french toast
    bread,eggs.cinnamon,milk Do a whole loaf at once. Put it in the original bread sleeve when your done and freeze. You can put it in the toaster frozen. I find in takes 2x down on our toaster to heat the middle.

    Spaghetti Salad
    1# thick spaghetti,1 16oz. bottle of zesty italian,1 bottle of salad supreme
    Make spaghetti noodles as you would for spaghetti,rinse to cool, dump in zesty Italian and salad supreme,serve cold. Great for snacky teens. People add olive,green peppers,tomato chunks (i'm just not allowed around here. lol)

    Take 2 pitas and butter 1 side. put cheese in the middle and make as a grill cheese. Cut into wedges and dip in sour creme. Super cheap and fast.

    Mix a cake mix as directed on the box. Grill it in a waffle iron. Top w/cherry pie filling or strawberry. Add whip creme=Happy Valentines.

    I dont have the recipe but you can make cookies from cake mixes too.

    I would make stew. I use a jar of beef gravy and beef broth for the base,dump in garlic powder,pepper,dried parsley and drained veg,chop some potatoes.
    If you add more liquid and pasta its soup.

    Olive Garden Tortilla copy cat soup
    Use Alfredo sauce as the base.bits of pre-made chicken breast,parmesan shreds,dried parsley,I use cheese filled pasta but seashell noodles would work
    pepper. I use garlic powder. And bits of spinach leaves throw in last minute IF I have them. I throw more shredded parm of before serving. Goes great w/rolls.

    I know these aren't all following your pantry ihg. But I just finished raising teens and these are quick,east and filling.
    Funny when you help on something like this I always find more than I get.
    I assume you know about Allrecipes.com
    Ladies what was that site that you type in your ing. and it gives you recipes??
    Last edited by frugalwarrior2; 02-08-2015 at 03:38 AM.

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    Buy a good pair of kitchen sheers if you don't have any
    Beef tips and noodles
    Make egg noodles
    Cut any cheap steak into small bits (quarter sized?)
    Caramelize a bit of onions,add beef. when the beef is near done. Lower heat to simmer. add a jar of gravy and a good sized glop of sour creme,add pepper and garlic powder to taste.I like to add jarred mushrooms (if I can w/ this crowd) You can drop it on the egg noodles or mix together.

    Broccoli cheese soup
    Start w/ Campbells' broccoli cheese soup (2),add 8 oz pkg shredded cheese (we use sharp),add the 2 cans of milk. HEAT OVER LOW
    add a head of broccoli chopped and pre-cooked
    I like to add a can of mushrooms chopped smaller (if the crown wont veto).
    pepper to taste. We serve w/ oyster crackers and sometimes white cheese on top (when our cholesterol isnt high enough!lol)

    I sometimes put globs of jelly into cake mixes. You can make a mix and put it in cupcake tins (I am notorious for buying out of season cupcake papers for next to nothing.) and drop honey,jelly,pie filling and make muffins.

    Make pancakes. If you take a can of rootbeer and saute it down it makes amazing syrup.

    Make chili baked potatoes Top w/ shredded cheese. I often put out choices and they make their own.

    2 crecsent roll tubes squwished on a pre sprayed tray even if its non stick
    Jar of sauce.cheese,pepperoni makes a great pizza. It will require a fork to eat as its soft. I like ham w/ green pepper cuz' pepperoni is so greasy and the crust is already shorteningy

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    turkey pot pie
    I use Pillsbury pre-made crusts (prick the bottom w/ a fork)
    Mix pre cooked turkey,canned carrots and peas drained w/ cream of chicken soup
    You can throw in bits of potato cut small,onion,celery if you like. I use pepper,powdered garlic.
    throw it in the crust,make it like a pie. Put a few slits in the top crust.
    400 degrees. First 20 minutes have tin foil on top like pies,then bake about 25 more w/o out the foil. It should bubble out the slits.

    cheesy potato bake
    hash browns,creme of mushroom soup or creme of chicken,cup of sour creme,1 8 oz bag of shredded sharp cheese,salt/pepper. Mix together and drop in a cake
    pan 9x13. Make like the hash brown recipe. Bake until its brown. If you want a meal add ham

    Sorry about being a little vague on times and such its just I have been making this stuff 30 yrs.

    I also make pizza calzone type things. Pie crust again Your gonna fold in 1/2 after adding Sauce,cheese,pepperoni or ham (no pineapple it will weep). Put the ing. on 1 side,fold in 1/2 and crimp or fold over the edges. Bake at about 400 until the crust is done. 20 min.??
    You can do the same w/ pie filling and make tarts.

    Tuna noodle casserole
    Egg noodles,can of tuna drained,can of peas drained,cheese optional.
    Mix ing. other than egg noodle together w/ mushroom or creme of chicken soup,nacho cheese which ever kind, a can of milk like making the soup.
    If you want you can make the egg noodle slighlty firm and throw it in the oven 350 for 20-ish min. or just do it on the stove heating the ing. and then throwing the noodles in last to mix

    well,I better go back to sleep lol

  14. #13
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    Boy, I would be thrilled with a panty like that.

    Here's a site where you put in your ingredients, and it spits out recipes.
    Supercook: recipe search by ingredients you have at home

    Also, start a shopping list so you quit buying pasta when it is unneeded.

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    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Bisquick will give you a ton of recipes in many categories to use up the Bisquick. Bisquick does include fats and leavening, so should be used in a timely manner for best results.

    Most anything that can be served over rice can also be served over pasta, so if you have more pasta than rice, you can change things up a little. A lot of stuff that can be served with rice can also be served over some of the instant potatoes.

  16. #15
    Registered User lisaflex's Avatar
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    for any shape pasta - sautee one onion in evoo, add smashed garlic, crshd red pepper to taste can of diced tomatoes and some white wine (or chix broth) let simmer while pasta cooks....add fresh grated cheese...makes a lot and super good. can add diced cubed chix near end also.

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