This month I’ve been doing a version of a pantry challenge, where I’m focusing on using what’s in my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry instead of going to the grocery store constantly. There are lots of recipes on Budget Bytes that are good for this sort of thing, sometimes just requiring a fresh produce item or two.
Dragon Noodles sounded like a great fit for a quick and easy meal, with a few adjustments to work better with what I have. And that’s one of the things I love about the recipes on this site — they’re quite flexible, and Beth encourages adapting a recipe to what works best for you.
Adapted from Dragon Noodles
- used 4 oz of spaghetti noodles instead of lo mein (broken in half)
- added 6 oz of frozen peas (thawed)
- added leftover stir fried cabbage (about a cup)
- added 1/2 tsp granulated garlic to sauce
- omitted cilantro and green onion
Delicious! I loved this way of cooking the egg — the high fat to egg ratio (well, high for me) gave the egg a really nice pool to cook in, keeping it softer and moister than normal. And the sauce couldn’t have been easier. I enjoyed this right after cooking it and two more times as leftovers as well. This one is a keeper, and I can imagine adapting it for all kinds of veggies.
Lately I’ve become rather hooked on maximizing grocery store savings. It’s like a game, seeing how I can get the most for my money, and it helps that I focus on stocking my pantry with staples that help me cook from scratch. When the grocery store had 1-lb bags of pasta on sale for $.49 each, I stocked up on a variety of shapes and have been brainstorming all the fun ways I can use them.
BudgetBytes.com has loads of doable, healthy, and frugal recipes (my Mealtime board is now loaded with pins from this site). It was really hard to choose which to make first! I started with one that aligned best with my freezer and pantry items and adapted it with my ingredients.
Vegetable Alfredo Pasta Bake from BudgetBytes.com
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 6 oz frozen peas, cooked and drained
- 12 oz frozen broccoli, cooked and drained
- 6 oz frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
- salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 c hard white wheat flour
- 4 c whole milk
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Pasta and topping:
- 1 lb shell pasta
- 3 oz shredded gouda
I don’t like adding frozen vegetables to a hot, oily pan because of the sizzle and splatter, so I opted to cook my veggies first in a small Micro-Cooker vegetable steamer that goes in the microwave. Except for the carrots, which I sauteed in the oil.
Oh, yum. This is a great balance of flavor and textures. Not too cheesy, not too saucy, plenty of vegetables. The gouda on top is really special. And after a few years of only eating homemade pasta at home, it’s a treat to have the convenience of dried pasta on hand.
I actually think I could skip adding the cheese to the sauce next time, and just go with the cheese on top. Increasing the spices and seasonings in the sauce would be good, perhaps adding dried minced onion and garlic (or fresh, if I have some).
I love the way this casserole turned out — and perhaps even more I love that there are seven more servings of it in the freezer, ready to be pulled out for an easy meal here and there.