Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pantry Challenge

And....we’re back, after a brief hiatus.

Pantry challenge. Making do with what you have on hand. It’s something that my neighbors Susan and Deedee have taught me in the last year. A pantry challenge doesn’t mean that you have to eat less than satisfying food. You can eat well and save a few dollars by preparing meals with what you already have in-house.

That was my mindset yesterday when I started rummaging through my kitchen looking for something to prepare, something that I could take to work for a couple of days. Among the items I put on my counter were beans, cabbage, smoked sausage, onions, garlic, vegetable juice, beef bouillon cubes, chicken broth, hot peppers, rice and an assortment of canned soups. I put the beans, rice and canned soups back under my kitchen counter and made the following (ad-libbing all the while):

A Frugal Poet’s Crock Pot Smoked Sausage Cabbage Soup

Slice and quarter heart healthy turkey smoked sausage. Sautee the smoked sausage in a little olive oil along with a clove or two of garlic.

While the sausage is sauteeing, toss shredded cabbage, diced onion, veggie juice, water, two beef bouillon cubes, chicken broth into a crock pot. I also added water, a few super chili peppers and about a tablespoon of Cajun seasoning. Turn the crock pot on a high setting (or low if you’re in no hurry). Add the smoked sausage and cook until the cabbage and onions are tender.

Quite often, such meals follow no set recipe, which allows for a little creativity on the part of the cook. The key thing is to season your soup appropriately.

My pantry challenge meal was awesome (if I do say so myself) and would likely be great with a pone of cornbread. I made enough for two quarts of soup, which should last me for at least three days, maybe four.

That’s three or four days that I don’t have to spend money at the grocery store.

If you’ve had a similar experience in preparing a pantry challenge meal, I’d like to hear from you.  Send an email to or leave your recipe and story in the comments section below.

And finally, a poem for dessert...

Why Lester Duncan Drinks

It’s hard to stop drinking
when you find a pint of vodka
under your pillow at night.
That conniving wife of mine
wants to keep me drunk.
Every time I toss out a bottle,
she buys another one and
conveniently places it
where I can find it.

As long as I’m pegged a drunkard
no one will blame her when
she leaves me.

She likes talking to that
fat tax man in town.
I figure she’s got her sights
set on him.
He’s rich, got four cars, a fine house,
and a bad heart.
Well, God Bless ‘em and
good riddance to the both of them.
she’ll probably stick fried chicken
under his pillow.

Rusty Truck June 26, 2011


  1. I always say "all you need is an onion and you have soup!".... "All you need is a cabbage and you have soup!".... Yes indeed!

    I just made the most wonderful nectarine smoothy from stuff I had on hand ... boy was THAT good on these hot days!

    1. Yum, Merrill! Your smoothy sounds awesome.

      I could have used a smoothy earlier today...hiked up a mountain with my pal, Deedee. 1.3 miles to the top. :)

  2. I've been under the weather for several days now and haven't felt up for grocery shopping or cooking much, but I had a couple of large chicken breasts defrosted that needed to get cooked. I managed to get them to a crock pot for a slow cook Friday, de-boned and shredded them, and returned them to the fridge. Today, I decided I needed to find something to do with that chicken. I had a roasted red pepper and a couple of scallions that needed to be used so I chopped those up and threw them in a bowl while I reheated the chicken in its broth in the microwave. Had exactly one cup of mixed rice left so I cooked that up. I decided to add a can of drained and rinsed black beans to the chicken and rice dish and threw in some fresh, chopped cilantro for good measure. Abi added a bit of lime juice and had hers in a soft, wheat tortilla with salsa and sour cream. It was good, quick, easy, healthful--a pantry challenge success. Your sausage and cabbage sounds delicious!

    1. And your pantry challenge sounds delicious too!'ve given me several ideas for a few items I have in the kitchen.

      I hope you're feeling better soon.Rest, relax, let Abi take care of you. :)