The "Use What You Have" challenge from Cheap Recipe Blog

A few weeks ago, I asked you guys to submit your ideas and recipes using ingredients you had on hand in your fridge, freezer, pantry, or garden. The idea behind this challenge was to avoid going to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a meal. There is always the temptation of buying more than what you need at the supermarket. By staying away from the grocery store – and coming up with creative meal ideas using ingredients you already have at home – you can save a lot of money over time.

A big thank you to all the readers and bloggers that participated! It has been so fun to receive your creative ideas in my inbox. If you’re interested in participating in the next challenge, see the details below.

Now, let’s take a peek into your kitchens and see what you came up with:

Farm Fresh Spaghetti with Zucchini Noodles: From Greta at Pickles Travel

Farm fresh spaghetti

“This is my quick, summer go-to meal. I can get everything from my garden or pantry (the canned tomatoes come from my garden from the previous year). It’s fast and easy and always delicious.”

Farm Fresh Spaghetti with Zucchini Noodles


3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Qt. Canned Whole or Chopped Tomatoes
10 Leaves of Basil
2 Cups misc. Garden Produce, chopped: I used eggplant, peas and a mild roasting pepper
1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
1/2 tsp Salt (more to taste)
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder (optional)
1 1/2 medium sized Zucchini – to julienne peel

Ingredients for farm fresh spaghetti
1. Brown Garlic in Olive Oil.
2. Add Tomatoes and allow to sit and simmer for 10 min in order to cook down some of the juices from the tomato.
3. Add misc garden produce (eggplant, peas, carrots, peppers, etc.), tomato paste, and spices: salt, oregano, garlic powder. Allow to simmer together for another 10 min for flavors to meld.
4. While waiting for flavors to meld you can get your zucchini noodles ready by julienning it. A Julienne Peeler is the easiest route, but you can also use a knife- just be careful. With the peeler, peel along the zucchini on all edges, just as you would for peeling a carrot, until you reach the center and seeds. Don’t use this center part as it will give your “noodles” a strange texture and they may fall apart while cooking.
5. Add zucchini noodles to the tomato sauce to cook for 5 min. This gives them a cooked, al dente noodle texture.
6. Remove from heat and serve.

Chicken Rice Soup and Beet Salad: From Leslie in Minneapolis

Chicken and rice soup

Tonight’s dinner was chicken rice soup and beet salad. The chicken soup was leftover rice from two days ago and what was remaining from a box of chicken broth. I added a chopped up tomato, circles of hot pepper and torn basil leaves from the garden, and a touch of sriracha sauce.

Homemade Pizza: From Jeff at FoodWineClick

Use-what-you-have pizza
Jeff made this beautiful pizza using a unique combination of ingredients he already had on hand: Prosciutto, sautéed onions, leeks, mushrooms, red peppers, mozzarella, goat cheese, and fresh dill. The homemade crust is from the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I love the idea of having fresh pizza dough ready to use in the fridge. This allows you to make pizza whenever the mood strikes, using up small amounts of ingredients that you already have on hand. This can lead to some pretty interesting (and tasty!) pizzas. Like this one, that looks absolutely delicious.

Check out the original post at FoodWineClick

BLT Fettuccini: From Amy at Spin The Meal

BLT fettuccini

Amy came back from a blogging hiatus to bring us this simple, fun and flavorful pasta recipe using pantry staples. If you like BLT sandwiches, I’m sure you’ll love this pasta recipe. As an added bonus, this looks very budget-friendly. Thanks and welcome back, Amy!

Get the recipe at: Spin the Meal

Best Ever BBQ Sauce: From My Mom (Thanks Mom!)

Best ever BBQ sauce
“I happened to have a package of frozen boneless pork ribs on hand. I only had a half cup of barbecue sauce on hand, so I decided to use what I had in the kitchen and add to it to make more. What resulted was pretty awesome. And I did not have to go to the store to buy any of additional ingredients.”


1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 package dry onion soup mix
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Chopped onion
Dash of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so.  Serving size, 1 1/2 cups.

This sauce has a rich, zesty, and slightly sweet taste to it. I baked cut up pieces of pork for 1/2 hour in the oven and then put the sauce and pork in the crock pot on low for six hours. Amazing flavor. Can be used on pork, beef or chicken.

Garden Salad: From Quantina at Garden Fuss

Garden fresh salad

Check out the original post at Garden Fuss

“Here is a picture of our backyard foraged salad. Paired with our baked chicken this salad rocked! It is very simple and the greens included lambs quarters, orach (purple mountain spinach), wood sorrel, parsley, and purslane. I then squeezed and zested half a lemon and mixed with a drizzle of olive oil salt and pepper. It was a great family activity finding ways to eat these very local greens.”

 Shrimp and Couscous Salad: From Emily at The Three Bite Rule

Shrimp and couscous salad

Check out the original post at The Three Bite Rule

I loved this super quick salad that mostly stemmed from what was in my freezer. It could easily be modified by whatever protein, veggies, and grain you have around. The flavors were fresh, light, and the differing textures made this one a hit!


5 medium-large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked (I used frozen)
1/2 cup Israeli couscous (or bulger, or rice, or orzo, or whatever is in your pantry)
3/r cup chicken/veggie stock/water/white wine (liquid of your choosing)
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup edamame (I used unshelled from the freezer, if they’re in the pods cook and pop them out earlier)
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped (or tomatoes, or cucumbers, or whatever you have around)
Salt and pepper


Add couscous to a medium pan over medium heat to toast for about 3 minutes. Shake them around until they start getting a little tan colored. Add in the liquid (I used chicken stock) and cover for 5 minutes. Cook edamame (mine was frozen and shelled and just needed to boil for 5 min). Chop pepper and cut shrimp into 3rds or leave whole, depending on your preference while couscous is cooking Remove from heat and add in butter and mustard. Drop in edamame, peppers, and shrimp.

Stir until combined and sprinkle in cracked pepper and kosher salt.

Fried Egg Sandwiches: (From Me!)

Fried egg sandwich recipe

I seem to always have ingredients on hand to make fried egg sandwiches. Although the basic egg, toast, and mayonnaise combination is tasty enough, I like to play around with different ingredients and toppings. Get the basic recipe (and variations) here.