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Weekly Meal Plan (Using What You Already Have)

After almost three weeks away from home, our refrigerator is practically empty, except for a door filled with condiments and a half empty jar of salsa. I trotted downstairs this morning with a growling stomach and an unwillingness to pull myself together for a grocery store outing. Investigation into our pantry was surprisingly successful. I discovered TWO prepackaged mixes for blueberry and banana nut muffins. Jackpot. Let’s create a weekly meal plan.

This amazing discovery made me very curious. What else was hiding in our pantry, lost and forgotten? Behold, slowly the ingredients for several meals began to be paired and the creative juices of an inspired chef were flowing.

The kitchen counter became overcrowded with groupings of items, organized into potential meals, and a list was started to keep track of a menu and meal plan for the upcoming week.

Desserts (come first, obviously)

  • Blueberry muffins with homemade icing
    • Ingredients on-hand: Muffin mix, icing made from powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk
    • Need: Nothing!
  • Oatmeal Dried Cranberries White Chocolate Chip Cookies
    • Ingredients on-hand: Old-fashioned oats, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, butter, brown sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda, salt
    • Need: Nothing!
  • Caramel Peach Fritters with Salted Caramel Sauce
    • Ingredients on-hand: Frozen chopped peaches, butter, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, oil, caramel sauce, flaky sea salt
    • Need: Nothing!


  • Biscuits and gravy
    • Ingredients on-hand: Gravy mix packet, flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, sugar, butter, milk, Morning Star sausage crumbles
    • Need: Nothing!
  • Banana Nut Pancakes with nut topping
    • Ingredients on-hand: Banana nut muffin mix, shortening or cooking spray, milk, oil, egg, nut topping, syrup
    • Need: Nothing!


  • Meatballs and gravy, with mashed potatoes
    • Ingredients on-hand: Gravy mix packet, Italian bread crumbs, dry parmesan cheese, eggs, salt and pepper, potato flakes, butter
    • Need: Ground beef, onions, and garlic
  • Chicken Parmesan
    • Ingredients on-hand: Italian bread crumbs, dry parmesan cheese, eggs, salt and pepper, butter
    • Need: Boneless chicken breasts, onions, garlic, shredded mozzarella
  • Grilled Cheese & Chicken Salad Sandwich, with Bean Soup
    • Ingredients on-hand: Bread, American cheese, Canned chicken chunks, mayonnaise, bean soup mix
    • Need: Nothing!
  • Meatball Pizza
    • Ingredients on-hand: Pizza dough mix
    • Need: Shredded mozzarella, tomato sauce, use leftover meatballs as topping
  • Broccoli Cheese Soup
    • Ingredients on-hand: Gravy mix, frozen chopped broccoli, parmesan cheese
    • Need: Sharp cheddar cheese, onion
  • Skillet Garlic Chicken
    • Ingredients on-hand: Cream of chicken soup, rice, thyme, cooking spray
    • Need: Boneless chicken breasts, ground sage, garlic
  • Gluten-free spaghetti with Caramelized Red Onions, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Pine Nuts, and Pecorino Cheese
    • Ingredients on-hand: Gluten-free spaghetti, olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, pine nuts
    • Need: Cherry tomatoes, red onion, pecorino cheese

Using what we have on-hand, we only have to purchase a few additional items to complete our meal plan for this week. Hurray!

This takes me back to when Paul and I were dating and made it our mission to eat everything in our kitchen before we were allowed to go grocery shopping. Let’s just say that I learned how creative Paul can be in the kitchen and that you could survive on very little if you think outside the box (literally and figuratively).

Creativity often comes by way of problem solving, reviewing your resources, figuring out new ways to make do with what you already have on hand, and finding new uses or substitutes to accomplish your goal. This can absolutely apply to cooking and is a talent of the world’s most accomplished chefs. It can also be applied to all areas of our lives.


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