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The "Food Pantry Challenge" Recipes Part 1

On our Facebook page, we recently challenged members and friends to come up with tasty and nutritious recipes and cooking videos using only the often random assortment of items found at a local food bank, plus what could be purchased with SNAP or WIC Benefits. Here are some of the first submissions from our member Elizabeth:



Food Pantry Challenge – Week of Meals


1st Meal – Southwest Sweet Potato Boats

2 cans of canned chicken, drained

½ can of corn, drained

½ can of black beans, drained and rinsed

½ can diced tomatoes, drained

4 sweet potatoes, or regular potatoes if you prefer

Taco Seasoning

Shredded cheese, any kind you like, I use the yellow and white cheese mix


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is heating, wash potatoes and dry them and place on a foil lined baking sheet or dish. Once oven is preheated place potatoes in the oven for 40 minutes, 30 minutes if you’re using regular potatoes because they don’t take as long to cook as sweet potatoes. While potatoes are cooking, prepare your other ingredients and have a large bowl ready to mix them in. Drain you chicken and add to bowl. Drain your corn, add half to the bowl and add the other half to a container to store in the fridge to use for another recipe in the week. Drain your beans, add half to the bowl and add the other half to a container to store in the fridge for another recipe in the week. Drain your tomatoes, add half to the bowl and add the other half to a container to store in the fridge to user for another recipe in the week. Once all of your ingredients are in the bowl, add desired amount of taco seasoning. I personally would use either 4 tablespoons of taco seasoning or a whole taco seasoning packet. If you like it spicy you can add some cayenne pepper or some fresh jalapeno. Mix everything together well until it is well incorporated, and everything is covered with the seasoning. Pour in ½ cup of shredded cheese and mix that in. Once the potatoes are done, pull them out of the oven and let them cool until you can handle them without burning yourself. Once cooled, cut them in half and scoop out most of the potato from each half, leaving some so they hold their shape. Put 1 cup of the scooped-out potato mixture into your chicken mixture and store the rest in a container to put in the fridge to use in another recipe later in the week. Mix the potato mixture into your chicken and veggie mixture until it is well incorporated. Scoop the mixture into each potato half until it is full and overflowing slightly. Then top each potato with shredded cheese, however much you like. Then place the potatoes back in the oven for 20 minutes.


2nd Meal – Sausage, Corn and Tomato Alfredo Sauce with Pasta

1 lb of sausage, breakfast sausage or ground Italian sausage

Leftover corn from fridge

Leftover tomatoes from fridge

½ onion, diced

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups of milk

2 tablespoons of butter

1 box of pasta, whatever kind you like

Shredded cheese, I prefer a white cheese in my alfredo sauce like mozzarella or parmesan, but you can use whatever shredded cheese you like

Salt and Pepper


Brown sausage and onions in a large skillet until completely cooked, drain and set to the side. While the sausage is browning start a pot of water to boil for your pasta, once the water is boiling add your pasta and cook according to the package directions. In the same skillet from the sausage add the butter until it melts on medium heat, then add the flour and stir around until it becomes a light golden color. Slowly add the milk stirring constantly, it will thicken quickly so don’t step away as it might burn. Once the mixture is thick like an alfredo sauce add the browned sausage and onions, corn and tomatoes as well as your garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning. Stir until everything well incorporated, it should be a thick mixture. Once everything is well incorporated, turn the heat off to the skillet and add in your shredded cheese and stir until it is melted. Taste the mixture to see if it needs salt and pepper. At this point your pasta should be done and you can either dump the pasta into the alfredo mixture and mix it all together or you can serve the alfredo mixture on top of your cooked pasta.


*If you don’t want to make the alfredo sauce yourself you can use jarred alfredo sauce and adjust the seasonings as necessary. You will follow the same steps up until you add the flour to the skillet. Once the sausage and onions are cooked and drained you will add the jarred alfredo sauce to the skillet on low heat until it is warmed through and then add the sausage, corn and tomatoes and desired seasonings and then you can decide if you want to add more cheese to the mixture and serve with your pasta.


3rd Meal - Chicken and Stuffing Casserole with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

3 cans chicken, drained

1 box of stuffing

1 can green beans, drained

1 can peas, drained

1 can carrots, drained

2 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup water or chicken broth

2 cans of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom or 1 of each

Salt and Pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

Leftover cooked sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons of butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by spraying it with non-cook sticking spray or rub down the entire inside with butter so the casserole won’t stick. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, stuffing, green beans, peas, carrots, melted butter, water/chicken broth, cans of cream of chicken and/or mushroom soup, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix until everything is well incorporated, it will be a thick mixture. Pour the mixture into your baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. While the casserole is cooking get your cooked leftover sweet potatoes from the fridge as well as some butter. Add the potatoes to a pot and put on the stove over low-medium heat, stir and/or mash them to the desired consistency. Once the potatoes are warmed up, add the butter and stir until it is melted in. At this point you can add whatever seasonings you like; I like to add poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to mine but you can do brown sugar and cinnamon or just salt and pepper. Season them however you like. You can also heat the sweet potatoes up in the microwave if you don’t want to do it on the stove.



4th Meal – Potato and Ham Soup

2 packages of instant potatoes, whatever flavors you like

1 package of lunch meat ham, cut into small pieces

½ onion, diced

½ cup diced celery, if you like

½ cup diced carrots, or ½ can sliced carrots drained

5-6 cups of either water or chicken broth

Salt and Pepper


In a large pot, add about 2 tablespoons of oil (Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Vegetable Oil, whatever you have or like) over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the onion, celery and carrots as well as salt and pepper and cook about 15 minutes or until the veggies are softened. Once the veggies are softened add the cup up ham pieces and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring some. Add 5 cups of liquid, either water or chicken broth, first and reserve the last cup in case you need it. Bring this mixture up to a boil and then add your 2 packages of instant potatoes and cut the stove down to low. It will thicken almost immediately, so stir frequently so the soup doesn’t burn on the bottom. At this point, you can decide if you like the consistency of the soup or if you want it thinner you can add the other cup of liquid or more if desired.


I serve this soup with grilled cheese for dinner and I top the soup with shredded cheese and cooked crumbled bacon leftover from breakfast.



5th Meal – Sloppy Joe Pockets, with Mac and Cheese and Steamed Broccoli

1 lb ground beef, or you can use any kind of ground meat you like

1 can sloppy joe mix

1 can of refrigerated biscuits

Shredded cheese

1 box of mac and cheese

1 frozen package of broccoli florets


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil. Place a skillet on medium-high heat on the stove and brown the ground beef until cooked, drain and return to the skillet and add the canned sloppy joe sauce. Cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes. Open the canned biscuits and you will take a rolling pin or a large can and roll each one until it is flat and about 8 inches straight across, they don’t have to be perfect. Take your sloppy joe mix and spoon some onto the flattened-out biscuits. You will spoon it only onto one half and don’t go all the way to the edge, then top the meat mixture with a pinch of shredded cheese. Then take the other half of the biscuit and folder it over like your making a packet and crimp the edges down with a fork so it seals the meat in the biscuit packet. Place each packet onto the greased baking sheet and cut a 1 inch slit into the top of each packet, that way the steam can escape while cooking and the meat mixture shouldn’t oose out of the sides while cooking. Bake for 20 minutes. While the pockets are cooking, cook the mac and cheese according to the box. Then place the frozen broccoli into a large bowl with ¼ cup water, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and cut a few slits in the plastic wrap so the steam can escape. Cook the broccoli in the microwave for 4-5 minutes, once cooked taste to see if it needs more seasoning.


6th Meal – Italian Chicken over Rice with Sautéed Squash and Zucchini

1 package of boneless skinless chicken thighs, package with 6-8

2 cans tomato soup

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup milk

½ onion, diced

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

Shredded cheese, whatever kind you like, I prefer mozzarella or parmesan for this recipe

Rice, cook according to package directions for how many servings you need

2 yellow squash, sliced

2 zucchinis, sliced

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and Pepper


If you don’t have instant rice, start cooking the rice according to the package directions for how many servings you need. If you do have instant rice, make this one of the last things you make so it is still hot for dinner. In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil and once warm add the onion and cook until translucent about 15 minutes. While the onions are cooking season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder. Once the onions are translucent add the chicken thighs, cook on the first side for 8 minutes and then flip. While the chicken is cooking on the first side, in a bowl mix together the tomato soup, canned tomatoes and milk. I like the stir in some Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder and salt and pepper to make sure the sauce is seasoned well (about 2 teaspoons of each with a pinch of salt and pepper). Once you flip the chicken pour in the tomato soup, canned tomatoes and milk mixture. Cover the skillet and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. While the chicken is cooking slice the squash and zucchini and have butter melting in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and zucchini to the skillet with butter and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and let cook for 10-12 minutes stirring some to make sure all sides get cooked. Once the chicken has cooked for 10 minutes taste the sauce to see if it needs any additional seasoning. Top each piece of chicken with a good amount of shredded cheese, return the lid until the cheese has melted. I serve this with the rice on the bottom, chicken on top of the rice, pour the sauce over and have the squash and zucchini on the side.


- Recipes submitted by Elizabeth C.

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