Published on March 5th, 2009 | by Marygrace Stergakos


10 Animal-Free Meal Ideas from Your Pantry

Meganpru at Flickr under Creative Commons License

In the face of a late winter storm here in the Northeast, my friend Stephanie blogged about using what you already have to make snow day meals, as opposed to making a mad dash to the store to pick up the usual staples out of the fear of being snowed in for days.  Now, the Washington Post’s “A Mighty Appetite” blog is busy spreading the word on its Eating Down the Fridge Challenge, taking place the week of March 9.  It sounds easy enough–avoid grocery shopping for a week, instead turning to all the items that have been languishing in your pantries, cellars, fridges, and freezers since God knows when for all your eating needs.

Always up for a food-based challenge, I started thinking about what sorts of items that were tucked away deep in the corners of my own kitchen.  I’m vegan, so there’s tons of dried (and canned, you got me) beans, every nut, seed, and grain you can imagine, near-expired packages of tofu, frozen berries, frozen spinach… even some frozen carrot bran muffins from Trader Joe’s.  With these items in mind, I created a list of ten meals that I’ll likely be preparing this upcoming week.  Given the recent news that even grass-fed beef isn’t so hot for the environment, I’ll take this as an opportunity to say that all sustainable eaters should be looking to lower their consumption of animal products.

10 Animal-Free Meal Ideas From Your Pantry:

  • Lentils and brown rice, cooked in some flavorful vegetable broth with plenty of sauteed onion, carrot, and celery.  Top with a pile of rich carmelized onions.
  • Make your own gnocchi with potato, flour (I like half white, half whole wheat), and a little bit of olive oil for moisture.  Serve with a quick red sauce made from canned tomatoes plus any aromatics you’ve got on hand.
  • Add a splash of rice wine vinegar and a sprinkle of sugar to short grain rice to create the base of for a sushi bowl.  I like to add in sesame seeds, frozen and thawed edamame, grated carrot, and reconstituted dried mushrooms.
  • Saute canned, diced tomatoes in plenty of olive oil and garlic, then throw in some cannellini beans and simmer til thickened.  Toast a frozen roll that’s been hiding in the freezer and sop up the juices.
  • If you’ve got any more frozen rolls, toast another, then spread on a thick layer of tahini.  Drizzle with honey and lemon juice, and top with chopped dates for a sweet breakfast, or cooked frozen spinach for a savory lunch.
  • You can never do wrong by a plate of linguine with garlic and olive oil.  For extra heat, add red pepper flakes.  For extra sustenance, add some chickpeas.
  • Doctor up some black beans with garlic, olive oil, cumin, and lime juice.  Use as a topping for Mexican-inspired jacket potatoes.
  • Slather whole grain toast with chunky almond butter, then top with sliced apple, agave nectar, and cinnamon for an open-faced sandwich.
  • Cooked oats welcome any number of toppings.  Try nuts and dried fruit, peanut butter and banana, or Mark Bittman’s savory oatmeal with soy sauce and scallions.
  • If all else fails, make soup!

Related posts:

Thrifty Thursday: Five Ideas for Using Up Leftover, Cooked White Rice

Pump Up Your Pantry: Three Tips to Stock Up and Save Money

Six Free Ways to Turn Kitchen Trash Into Treasure

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About the Author

I'm a 22 year old vegan from New Jersey with strong interests in local sustainability, community, slow food, and all that good stuff. Just getting out of college, I'm trying to find as many ways as I can to incorporate sustainable eating into my own lifestyle.

9 Responses to 10 Animal-Free Meal Ideas from Your Pantry

  1. Amy Bell says:

    Thanks for all the great vegan ideas Marygrace!

  2. Robin says:

    The open faced sandwich sounds delicious. Need to try it.

  3. Lindsey Williams says:

    This is my new favorite blog. Thanks!!

  4. Marygrace Stergakos says:

    You’re welcome, Amy! Vegans represent ;)

    Robin, I hope you like it! I think its great for breakfast.

    Lindsey, glad to hear it!

  5. Pingback: Debunking the Protein Myths: 6 sources of Vegetable Protein. : Eat. Drink. Better.

  6. Pingback: Meatless Monday: Berry Compote, Tofu Pesto Sandwiches, and Pasta With Chickpeas : Eat. Drink. Better.

  7. Nature Maven says:

    Great blog, Marygrace. I found this and forwarded a link to another vegan who tends, as do I, to eat the same things all the time. Thanks for the great ideas.

  8. Rachael says:

    Great ideas, thanks! Oh, and try grilling your nut butter & fruit sandwich- melted nut butter is SO good!

  9. Pingback: Meatless Monday: 10 Vegan Breakfast Ideas – Eat Drink Better

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