Cooking at Home While Staying at Home Part II

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Part II: Flexible Recipes Using What You Have

Use this time at home to whip up a little creativity. The beauty of recipes like fried rice, stir fry, soups, stews, and other flexible recipes is that you can vary the ingredients to suit what you have. Any type of vegetable can be used, especially root vegetables, cabbages, and peppers. A variety of proteins can be added such as meat, eggs, beans, or lentils. You can round out the meal with a whole grain like brown rice, quinoa, or whole grain noodles. Don’t have soy sauce or sesame oil? No problem. Make your stir-fry Southwest-style with cumin and cilantro, Italian with tomatoes and oregano, or Greek-inspired with lemon zest and thyme. The same goes for soups, stews, and other one-pot meals. Choose the flavor profile that your family likes using ingredients you already have. Here are two guides to get you started.

Create a Skillet Meal:

  1. Choose a protein – beans, eggs, meat, or fish
  2. Choose a whole grain starch – rice, pasta, or ancient grain
  3. Choose 2-3 vegetables – fresh, frozen, or canned
  4. Choose 1-3 seasonings – garlic, onion, celery, peppers, herbs, spices, or salsa
  5. Choose a liquid – water, broth, or tomato juice

Directions:  Brown meat, if using. Add all ingredients to pan, cook over medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add more liquid if needed. Cook until meat is thoroughly done and vegetables are tender.

Create a Fruity Dessert:

  1. Start with 4 cups of fruit – any combination of stone fruits, berries, apples, tropical fruits
  2. Select a prep method:


Topping: ½ cup oats, ¼ cups brown sugar, ¼ cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 2 Tbsp. oil

Put topping over fruit. Bake in 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden brown.


Base: plain yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, or pudding

Fruit: washed and cut into bite size pieces

Topping: granola, cereal, nuts, or honey

Layer base, fruit, and toppings.

Using what you have on hand is a great way to reduce food waste. Learn more about how to save money and waste less in the last article of this series.

Written By

Tracy Davis, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionTracy DavisExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences Call Tracy Email Tracy N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rutherford County Center
Updated on Apr 27, 2020
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