April 06, 2020

Cooking with Non-Perishables (My Tips and Favorite "Lockdown" Recipes)

This whole lockdown has certainly changed the way we (as a population) eat. I noticed some crazy things at the grocery store yesterday, which I'll save for another post (I have a post in my mind about how eating habits have changed during all of this coronavirus craziness).

When I was working on that post, I thought about what we've been eating lately, and it gave me the idea to share my favorite recipes (that I make frequently, anyways!) which work well during quarantine.

These are recipes where I have the ingredients on hand most of the time. And if you're buying groceries to stock up for a couple of weeks (not *hoard*) then these work great when you're getting down to the bottom of the barrel, so to speak.

First, here are some tips for modifying recipes to be non-perishable friendly:

*Buy minced garlic in a jar (or even whole cloves in a jar). When a recipe calls for fresh garlic, just use one teaspoon of minced garlic to replace one clove of fresh garlic. In some recipes, you can use garlic powder as a substitute instead. In that case, 1/4 tsp equals 1 clove.

*While fresh onions can last quite a while, if you're unable to get them then you can always use dehydrated onions. Just take a couple of tablespoons and rehydrate in water to use in a recipe. Or if your recipe has liquid in it, you can just throw in the dry onions.

*Most fresh vegetables can be substituted for a frozen or a canned version. I use a LOT of frozen vegetables because we rarely use the fresh stuff before it goes bad. Corn, peas, carrots, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, peppers, and onions all work well (and several more that I'm forgetting). To best use frozen vegetables like spinach, they should be used in a casserole, skillet, or soup--they can't be used as a salad, for example. Well, they could, but I wouldn't eat it! haha

*Frozen meat is great for the slow cooker! I use several recipes where I grab a couple of frozen chicken breasts (I buy them and then trim them as soon as I get home, then bag and freeze them) and toss them in the slow cooker with the other ingredients. No other work needed. (Some recipes below)

*Meats that last for a while in the fridge: packages of diced ham; bacon; smoked sausage (I love Butterball Turkey Sausage). And almost all meats can be stored in the freezer (I like to trim the meat first and prep it how I plan to use it--cut into chunks, leave it whole, etc). Eggs also last for a long time in the fridge!

*Fresh produce that lasts for a while: apples, pears, carrots, cabbage, onions, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and several more that I can't think of off the top of my head. But these are the main ones that I use. I buy these knowing that I have at least a couple of weeks to use them.

*One-pot meals and casseroles are perfect for non-perishable dishes. The frozen veggies generally work best with them, and you can make an "all in one" dish for dinner. These are my favorite!

*When all else fails, keep a frozen pizza on hand ;)

Here are my family's favorite recipes that are "lockdown" friendly:

Lasagna Soup - Pull some ground beef or turkey out of the freezer and you likely have everything else for this amazing soup! And if you have some stale bread, just toast it and add butter and garlic salt for a "poor man's garlic bread".

Pasta e Fagioli - This soup is the best! It takes very little time to make, I always have the ingredients on hand, and it's delicious.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup - Chances are, if you have a bag of frozen hash brown potatoes (just plain diced potatoes) in the freezer, then you have the stuff to make this. Even without the toppings, it's amazing! You can buy the pre-cooked bacon pieces to store in the pantry, and they last a long time.

Lentil Chili - This is one of those dishes that you can dump everything into a pot and just cook until it's ready. SO easy, and everybody loves it--even meat eaters.

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup with Barley - This recipe uses canned tomatoes and you can use minced garlic from a jar. Your house will smell like heaven on earth when the tomatoes and garlic are roasting in the oven.

Beans & Rice - This is probably the easiest meal ever to make, and it makes a very filling amount. Perfect for a night when you just don't feel like cooking.

Vegetable Fried Rice - This is a favorite of mine because it's so easy to use up any leftover veggies. But when making it with non-perishables, it's super easy to just throw in a bag of peas/carrots or mixed veggies. I keep a big batch of the seasoning on hand so I don't have to make it each time.

Taco-Style Lentils & Rice - This tastes kind of like taco meat, and you can use it for stuffing tacos or making tostadas. I like to eat it in a bowl with cheese.

Turkey, Black Bean & Corn Chili - This uses salsa, canned beans, and corn; with some ground turkey pulled from the freezer, you'll likely have the spices to pull it together.

French Onion Meatballs - With just a few (non-perishable) ingredients, these are the easiest thing EVER to put in a slow cooker! We like to eat them with angel hair pasta.

Bacon Broccoli Breakfast Pizza - This is made with frozen broccoli and homemade pizza crust. It calls for a couple of tablespoons of green pepper, but I just use frozen diced green pepper.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup - This a go-to recipe in my house. If I have chicken breasts in the freezer, I almost always use them for this recipe. There is no prep work--you just drop the frozen chicken in the slow cooker and dump some cans and packets of seasoning inside. Then 6-8 hours later, just shred the chicken and it's done. As long as I have chicken in the freezer, I ALWAYS have the rest of the ingredients on hand for this!

Southwest Chicken & Rice - This was my favorite when I was losing weight. It's such a super simple recipe made in the slow cooker, and everybody likes it. Again, you just need some chicken from the freezer.

Unstuffed Cabbage - Cabbage is one of the vegetables that keeps for a while in the fridge. This casserole is the most basic recipe you can get, but it's SO good. This recipe comes from my grandma, and I grew up eating it. Cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables, and this is my favorite way to eat it. (Again, just grab some ground turkey from the freezer)

Split Pea Soup - My kids favorite dinner! I "kid" you not. They love this (as do Jerry and I). The only fresh foods are potatoes, carrots and onions, which all last for a long time (I store my carrots and onions in the fridge). It uses packaged diced ham, which has a shelf life in the fridge for a least a couple of months. I also keep some in the freezer. This makes a big pot in the slow cooker!

Hawaiian Fried Rice - Using frozen veggies, packaged diced ham, and canned pineapple, this comes together SO fast and is a great way to use up leftover rice!

These are some of our favorites, but you'll find that MOST of the recipes on my Recipes page are made with non-perishables. I wish I was one of those people that is always using fresh ingredients, but realistically, I end up throwing a lot of it out because we don't use it in time.

I make a lot of skillet meals, soups, and one-pot meals--most of which can be made into non-perishable recipes.

What are your favorite things to make with non-perishables?


  1. Thanks for these ideas!

  2. I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for posting every day! Things get so chaotic, but I love that my morning routine of reading your blog can stay the same. It helps retain some normalcy :)


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