Friday, April 20, 2018

Creating filling recipes using food pantry staples

For the second year in a row, FOX59 is teaming up with Financial Center, Gleaners and Midwest Food Bank for our “Pack the Pantries” initiative. So like last year, I spent some time at a local food pantry (thanks to my friends at Old Bethel) to get an idea of the kinds of food available to food pantry shoppers. I then created several recipes using the same items available at the food pantry.

The breakfast recipe I have chosen to make involve eggs and bread. Midwest Food Bank-Indianapolis and Gleaners are part of the HATCH egg program which essentially insures that the food pantries will have eggs available as part of an ongoing effort to provide much needed protein for families in Indiana. 

It is very important to start your day off with some type of protein. You’ll feel more energized, and it will help keep you more full throughout the day. That’s why eggs are a great start to your morning. One egg has approximately 6 grams of protein, compared to cereal like Cheerios which only has 2.5 grams of protein per serving.

Also the pantry always has plenty of bread available. In fact, at Old Bethel food pantry, visitors can take as much bread as they can use.

Using both eggs and bread, I am making egg and toast cups for breakfast. I like this recipe because you can make up to 12 servings at one time if you have an oven and you’re trying to feed a family. Or, for those people without an oven, you can make one serving in the microwave using a mug. 

You can add whatever mix-ins the pantry has available to enhance the dish. For instance, when I visited there was cheese and salsa available, and that would be great to add to it.

For lunch, I will have egg salad sandwiches. I feel like it’s not a very popular dish anymore, but it used to be because I remember my grandma would frequently make it. It’s a good recipe to keep on hand since we know eggs and bread are always available at the food pantry. People without an oven can make the hardboiled eggs using either a hot plate or the microwave.

Also, you can adapt or add to the recipe depending on what produce is available. Lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes are definitely great additions when they’re available.

Side note: Did you know you can make hardboiled eggs in the microwave? Just place your eggs in a microwave-safe bowl in a single layer; cover completely with water, about 2 centimeters past the top of the eggs; microwave for 10 minutes; remove from microwave and place in cold water bath; peel once they’re cool enough to touch.

I have prepared a southwest chicken skillet for dinner! I was inspired to make this dish because during my visit to the pantry I saw salsa, green chiles, canned corn, beans, and rice. Salsa is one of my favorite ways to flavor any meal because it has a lot of flavor, but it’s still very healthy. So I always try to incorporate it in recipes when I see it.

I chose to make a chicken dish because chicken has been available every time I’ve visited. However, if by some chance it isn’t available, you can substitute any other meat or also canned chicken works well. I’ve used canned chicken on numerous occasions, and you cannot tell a difference. 

Another interesting thing I would like to point out is that I used chicken bouillon to make chicken broth. Chicken broth is not usually available at the pantry, and it expires within about a week of opening it. Chicken bouillon on the other hand will last a very long time. Even if you have to buy it, it’s not very expensive, and you’ll get a lot of use out of it.

One of the great things about this recipe is the rice cooks in the same skillet as everything else. I love getting everything done at once without having to use additional pots and pans.

And even if you don't shop at the food pantry, this dish is just very cheap in general to make. It's $1.08 per serving, and the serving size is actually a generous two cups of food.

Also, as with just about everything I’ve showed you today, you can substitute or add other canned vegetables to make it more filling, and it won’t have a significant impact on the taste because there’s so much stuff in it.

Easy Egg Salad
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup diced celery, if available
  • 1/2 cup diced onion, if available
  • 1/2 cup peas or other canned vegetable for added nutrition, if available
  • 1/4 cup mayo (or sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Bread and lettuce for serving
  1. Peel the eggs and cut into a rough dice.
  2. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the celery, onion, peas, mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Serve egg salad on bread with lettuce

Easy Egg Toast Cups
  • 6 slices of bread
  • 1/4 cup cheese, if available
  • 6 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cut crust off bread and flatten with rolling pin.
  3. Stuff bread into each cavity of a muffin tin. Bake for 5 minutes, or until bread is lightly toasted.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons of cheese in center of toasted bread cup
  5. Crack one egg into each cup and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, depending on how runny you like your egg yolk.
  6. Remove egg toast cups from muffin tin and season with salt and pepper.

Southwest Chicken Skillet
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
  • 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 11-ounce can corn, drained
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 4.5-ounce can green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup cheese, if available
  1. In a large skillet, mix together water and chicken bouillon. Add rice, chicken, black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, salsa, green chiles, and red pepper flakes to skillet and stir.
  2. Place lid on skillet and let mixture come to a boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and let the skillet rest with the lid in place for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, sprinkle cheese on top, replace lid, and let sit for just a few minutes until cheese is melted.

Recipe adapted from Budget Bytes

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