Cooking Without Recipes by Using Ingredients On Hand?


I have been trying to find an article I read, either at this site or another frugal site. It was brilliant. It said you waste money by thinking you have to always use recipes.


Does anyone know where I can find the article? Using up ingredients, I put some cut up round steak in a crockpot with a can of beef mushroom soup, and cooked it for 8-10 hours. It was better than many of the seven ingredient recipes I have made and I didn't need to buy all of those ingredients.

The article also pointed out that the more extensive the ingredients, the more likely that the dish has too much fat or some other ingredient that makes it more suitable for special occasion cooking only.

By SusannL from St. Cloud, FL

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September 5, 20100 found this helpful

From the time my Mother was teaching me to cook, when I was in elementary school, I learned to make things like goulash(browned hamburger, pasta, tomato soup and seasonings, along with diced onion) Since I have grown up, I add whole kernel corn and a can of diced tomatoes. For "beef" stew we used browned hamburger(cheaper than stew meat), potaotes, carrots, diced onion, diced celery and seasonings. For chicken noodle soup, use diced leftover chicken, pasta, diced carrots, celery, onions, potatos, and seasonings. There are all kinds of things you can do when you think about it.


Recently I had three grandkids staying with me for a month and for convenience and because they liked it, we had one meal of Hamburger Helper and one meal of Tuna Helper. For five people I used two boxes of the "Helper", added some more plain pasta, and one pound of hamburger in the appropriate mix, and one large can of tuna in the tuna mix, I also added some extra pasta to this. Then being I wanted to add a vegetable to each mix, I decided peas would go over the best, so I added a can of peas to each mix.

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September 9, 20100 found this helpful

There are several cookbooks out which are known as "The Four Ingredients Cook Books" or "The Five Ingredients Cook Books", and they are pretty good for a beginning cook. They'll certainly keep you from starving.


I figure as long as I have rice, pasta, cans of tomatoes, cans of whole kernel corn and green peas, and cans of the big dark red kidney beans, we'll never go hungry around here. With or without meat, we're going to be eating about as healthy as most people. I also like to keep large cans of mixed greens to cook with fresh cabbage. The thing is so many people eat when they're really not hungry, so what they eat has way too much importance.

Eat when you're really hungry and you'll learn to love Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches 3 times a day for a very long time, or a bowl of rice will make you glad you have it to eat.

We are so terribly spoiled here in the US and are so used to having money to waste on food, especially in restaurants that we don't think about it so much now. There was a time in our country like back in the days of the Depression when many people would have been as happy as clams with a bowl of rice, or that Peanut Butter sandwich.


It's nice to know how to cook using lots of good things that go together, but usually when we cook that way, it's for more than just a single meal. Some of it may be frozen for next week or next month, or maybe we'll have the leftovers tomorrow for lunch or dinner with a little dessert to "take the curse off the leftovers" as my Mother used to say.

When I was growing up back in the late 30's and early 40's, Mondays were always "Beans and Rice"
days, with cornbread, and fresh tomatoes if we had grown them, but often as not, it might be a sweet spicy hot tomato sauce that Mother made to spoon over the beans and rice.

If there were any left over, you can bet your bottom dollar we ate them the following day. We didn't waste food. Cornbread would be sliced, battered in beaten eggs and pan fried in bacon grease. That would have been breakfast, and we poured the best cane syrup over it. Leftover biscuits were sliced, buttered and pan-toasted, and we ate them with sausage milk gravy. Such simple meals, and all good wholesome food.


I will never understand how we got to the point we're at today in the US. We certainly didn't start out that way, and if the day comes when we have to go back to eating the way we did when I grew up, we're not going to be so fussy anymore. Maybe that's what it's going to take to teach us a lesson. We will learn to cook without a recipe then,
and to use what we have on the shelf and in the fridge. Good lessons to know too.

I agree 100% with Redhatterb.


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September 9, 20100 found this helpful

Go to

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September 10, 20100 found this helpful

I don't have the article but this is similar to what you tried and you might like it. Bake or crock pot chicken with GOLDEN Mushroom Soup.


The golden mushroom, as opposed to regular mushroom soup, has a much richer taste and a nice dark golden color.

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