What can I eat when I have no food? How can I stay healthy on a budget? I’ve been in this situation many times, I have a bunch of ingredients at home but “nothing” to eat. It seems that it would be hard to make something decent out of so many random items. So what do I do in these situations? Use “everything but the kitchen sink” and make something tasty, healthy, fresh, and flavorful.
Over time, I developed easy, throw together recipes that I affectionately call “Kitchen sink recipes” (ya know the saying everything but the kitchen sink?). These are the recipes I make at the end of the week when I’ve almost run out of food or made everything on my menu for the week already, but still want something tasty!
First, I want to mention that there are some things you should keep in your house at all times to ensure that you can make healthy recipes in a pinch.
- Beans: I keep dry beans in my house at all times. I probably have every type of beans, but I use black, pinto, kidney, red lentils, and garbanzo beans the most. If you have a pressure cooker, it takes only about 35 minutes to cook dry beans, but otherwise the process is a bit lengthy (can take over a day!), so you may want to opt for canned beans instead! Canned beans are around $1 per whereas dry beans are typically around $3-$5 for 2 pounds. You can also make dry beans in advance and freeze them.
- Frozen veggies: frozen veggies are a great way to get organic vegetables cheaper than you would if they were fresh. You can make anything with frozen veggies, so make sure you have these on hand.
- Tortillas: Anything can be make into tacos, if you just Believe. But seriously, corn tortillas make the world a better place and I firmly believe you should keep them in your house always!
- Hot sauce: Much like tortillas, hot sauce makes the world a better and more flavorful place. Unless you have lame tastebuds, get you some hot sauce and keep it always. We use Frank’s Red Hot, but also have Sriracha in case of emergencies.
- SPICES: You MUST have spices if you want to make things yummy. Salt and pepper are not spices. Here are some of my favorite spices I keep in my cabinet at all times.
- Red pepper flakes
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Fresh cilantro
- Chili powder
- Italian spices
- Nutritional yeast
- Soy sauce, Tamari or Coconut Aminos
- Frozen bananas or other frozen fruits: these can be used for banana ice cream, smoothies, or smoothie bowls.
- Canned, crushed or diced tomatoes
- Rice and/or quinoa: You can make stews or stir fries and put them over either of these. Quinoa is a great source of protein for vegans!
I highly recommend buying in bulk so you only have to but them once a month AND they’re much cheaper!
Now onto the recipes!
- What you need:
- 1 can of any beans or 1.5 cups of pre- cooked dry beans
- 15oz can of diced tomatoes
- 6 oz tomato paste (optional but makes it thicker)
- 1-2 cups of any veggies
- 1 tbsp cumin or to taste
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- red pepper flakes (I like a lot, use your discretion)
- Anything else you have around that needs using! I like to add corn to mine to make it sweet, chopped spinach for nutrients, onions, minced garlic, left over rice or quinoa, or potatoes. I also blend 3-4 dates with some water and add it to make it sweet. I love sweet and spicy together!
- 4+ cups of water
- Optional: 1 cup of red lentils to make it thick
- Cook over high until boiling, then over low- medium heat until thick and veggies are cooked. If you have time you can make this in the crock pot which will really let the flavors mix! I usually cook mine in the pressure cooker for 30 minutes.
- Serve over rice, quinoa or baked potatoes. Top with nutritional yeast and hot sauce!
Curry: Curry dishes are so easy! And super flavorful! Its basically chili but instead of cumin as the main spice, you use curry. Simple as that! Here’s how I make my kitchen sink curry
- What you need:
- 1 can or 1.5 cups of any beans
- 15oz can of diced tomatoes
- 6 oz can of tomato paste (optional again)
- 1-2 cups of veggies (I recommend sugar snap peas for this recipe)
- Minced garlic or 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2-3 tbsp of curry powder- I use 3 but if you don’t love curry you might want to try 2.
- Red pepper flakes for spice
- Anything else you need to use up, potatoes are great in this.
- Optional: 1 can of coconut milk for added creaminess (SO yum), 1 cup of red lentils, chopped spinach
- 3-4 cups of water
- Cook on high until boiling, the on low- medium until all veggies are cooked.
I make tacos with pretty much anything when I’m hungry and have nothing else to eat! For example: saute pre- cooked beans in some water (you can use oil) with cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper flakes. Place beans in corn tortillas with rice and mixed greens, and top with Frank’s Red Hot and cilantro. Voila- tacos. Bonus points if you have tomatoes, avocado and lime; these are all great additions to tacos. You aren’t limited with this at all which is what makes it so great. I know you’re thinking well I could’ve thought of that! But you didn’t, I did, so you’re welcome 🙂
STIR FRY. I love stir fries so much. I usually keep a Japanese vegetable frozen blend in the freezer for just this occasion! I just toss a bag of veggies, sugar snap peas and bean sprouts (if I have them,) and beans in a pan with some water and about 1/4 cup of Tamari, sprinkle some garlic powder, ginger (about 1/2 tsp) and red pepper flakes. Once the veggies are defrosted and everything has softened, I add some pre- cooked rice or quinoa and cook until its heated. You can also fry some tofu in another pan to add on top, I HIGHLY recommend this recipe from Minimalist Baker if you’re feeling fancy. Top with sriracha. So easy, healthy and yummy!
You can make smoothies any way you want, really! One of my favorites is 1 cup of coconut or regular water, fill the blender with spinach then blend smooth. I then add 1 or more bananas, any fresh fruit that may be going bad, and frozen fruit to fill the blender about 3/4 the way. Blend smooth adding water as necessary.
You can make pasta dishes with anything you have! If you keep hemp seeds and cashews, you can make an alfredo sauce (recipe for the best vegan alfredo sauce EVER and also ORIGINAL by yours truly coming SOON!) But the easiest thing to do is to add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, frozen veggies, 2 tsps of italian spices, and minced or powdered garlic to make a one pot pasta! Simply cook up the pasta, then place the rest of the ingredients in the same pot with 1- 2 cups of water (after placing pasta in strainer), heat until veggies are defrosted, then add the pasta back to the pot. Stir and serve! You can of course add beans or tofu to this for some protein, and I love to add fresh, chopped spinach for extra nutrition! Top with nutritional yeast.
You can have oatmeal whenever you want, don’t listen to the haters! I love to add cocoa powder and PB2 to mine, and top with with fresh or frozen fruit. You can also make it savory (Carlos’s favorite!) by cooking it with half a cube of veggie bouillon, nutritional yeast, plant milk, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric. Here is an example of a recipe for savory oats. I went through a phase where this was all I wanted to eat for dinner when Carlos was working over night.
Its so easy to make simple, yummy, and healthy meals even if you don’t plan them out. It just takes a little creativity! Knowing how to use your spices is so important to making tasty dishes, but its a skill that comes with time and practice. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new spices or new spice combinations! There are many times when I start cooking but have no plans for my finished product. Carlos will ask “What is this?” and sometimes I have no answer! But it tastes darn good anyhow. And that’s what matters. I really hope these recipes help anyone trying to find their way around the kitchen!
If you have any recipe requests, please let me know in the comments below and I will work on writing it up 🙂
Go getchya cook on!
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