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As the household budget tightens, my challenge has been using items that have been sitting in the cupboard waiting to be used. I’ve always been a recipe follower, but I thought I would try my hand at just throwing something together that incorporates some of the food items I don’t generally get around to using.
I took inventory of my messy cupboard- I had lots of different kinds of canned beans (kidney, black, great northern and even re fried), rice, noodles (gluten free for our household), chicken and beef broth, and all sorts of canned tomato products (pured, diced, sauce, paste and crushed). Some of these items had been sitting in the cupboard for months. I knew I had a few onions left over from an over-purchase at Costco and an assortment of raw meat in the freezer I try to find on sales at the local grocery store (chicken breasts, pork loin, and ground beef). Now, what could I make?
I LOVE crockpot recipes so thought I would start there – something I could throw together and worry about later. Then it dawned on me: I had the basic ingredients for a chili! I didn’t even look for a recipe, challenging myself to make something from scratch without help. What follows is a recipe I made up on the spot containing only items I had on hand (for example, I only had one can of kidney beans, but I figured the chili might be ok with a couple cans of great northern beans mixed in):
Cupboard Finds: Chili
Just looking through my cupboard, I found items that I could throw into a pot and make a chili. No grocery shopping needed!
- 1-1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef
- 1 large Onion I had a yellow onion on hand
- 2-3 cloves Garlic I had pre-diced in a jar
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 cans Diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
- 1 can Kidney Beans (15oz)
- 2 cans Great Northern Beans
- Spices: salt, pepper, dried oregano, chili powder, and cumin (lots!) To taste
- Optional: sour cream for serving
Dice the onion and garlic (unless using pre-diced garlic in a jar) and sauté over medium heat with the olive oil in a large pan
Once the onions are mostly translucent, add the ground beef, salt and pepper. Brown until thoroughly cooked.
(At this point, I added the beef/onion mixture to a crockpot. However, if this is for immediate consumption, just add all the ingredients to the same pot and heat until hot)
Strain the beans and add to the beef mixture.
Add the diced tomatoes (not strained) and spices (to taste - I do this by smell mostly). Stir until combined.
Heat until hot over medium heat.
(If you have switched to a crockpot, I just turned it on low until hot, allowing time for the spices to mingle with the ingredients. If you need faster results, turn it on high to heat more quickly)
Serve hot. Top with sour cream if desired.
It's always nice to have a little helper in the kitchen, just know it won't always be clean!
My son thought it was delicious even before it was warm (my official taste tester with picky tastes).
A Note on Crockpots
I do NOT have a fancy crockpot. In fact, mine was a hand-me-down from my sister years ago. I highly suggest everyone who wants to cook get a crockpot – it’s one of the simplest and easiest ways to cook without needing to constantly monitor and stir. Plus, you can find some for really inexpensive, even larger quart sizes for bigger families/recipes.
See what you have that’s just been sitting around, and throw it in a pot!! Sure, it may not always work out, but you can be your own money-saving test kitchen!