Much like a plucky band of apocalypse survivors, you and your housemates are snowed in with a limited amount of food. You’ll either have to get creative with whatever you have on hand or actually talk to your neighbors to ask for/loot additional supplies. Before things get THAT dire, I’ve rounded up 10 nerdy recipes you can make from 10 pantry staples.
HOW I DEFINE PANTRY STAPLES
From the Fridge:
- Baking Powder and/or soda
If you don ‘t live in a dorm, this is the stuff you probably have on hand, even if you don’t realize it. Check the back of your cupboard. Even people allergic to cooking probably have a two year old bottle of vanilla and half a bottle of cinnamon lurking back there from that one time someone came over to bake cookies. Now that you’re snowed in, you might as well put them to good use.
Most of these recipes require one or two additional ingredients found in average houses, like chocolate chips, jelly, yeast, or food coloring. But hey, I’m here to help keep your hands busy while you wait for Odin to stop sneezing on the world, so if you’ve eaten all the fun stuff, three of these recipes can be made purely from the list above.
You know that box of food coloring that’s been languishing by the packets of yeast you bought in 2012? Grab the milk and eggs you bought for the snowstorm, invite some flour and sugar to the party, and get ready to keep your hands busy during this weekend’s Netflix marathon! As long as you’ve got some time to kill, this is a lot easier than it looks. You’re welcome for the excuse to keep your oven on all weekend.
All you really need for this is yeast, flour, sugar, salt, and oil. If you have herbs or garlic around, that’s fantastic, but don’t panic if you’re all out of spices. In a pinch, you can sub in ordinary generic “Italian Seasoning.” If you’re all out of that, too, just double the salt and enjoy it as a simple, rustic bread that happens to look like an alien robot.
Check your pantry. The most exotic mandatory ingredient in here is yeast. Other than that, you just need flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and eggs. Yes, that list includes a dangerous overlap with chocolate chip cookies. You may have to choose whether you want Shai Hulud riding majestically across your dining room table or a plate of warm cookies.
Shortbread is the ultimate pantry staple recipe. The only requirements are butter, sugar, flour and salt. I, like most people add a little extra zing in the form of extracts, but if you’re all out of everything, don’t let that stop you. If you still have milk and chocolate chips around, you can even make them into cute, dippable teabags.
Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and whatever fruit-flavoring-suspended-in-pectin you have lurking in the back of your fridge. (I have strawberry and grape, because I am apparently 9 years old. Mind you, I also have fig and cherry, because sometimes my breakfast needs to look goth.)
Don’t worry if you don’t own a Death Star cookie cutter. This is really just an excuse for home made Oreo’s. Once you’ve churned through your emergency supply of chocolate, you’ll thank me. All you need is butter, sugar, flour, eggs, that can of solid shortening (Crisco) you forgot about and some powdered sugar, though just like Nabisco, you can add all kinds of extra flavors for fun.
Don’t panic when you run out of Cheese-It’s. Making your own is super easy. All you need is a random bag of cheesy shreds, plus some flour, butter, and salt. Protip – if you don’t have a food processor, you can use a hand mixer. If you don’t have a hand mixer, you can use your actual hands. Sure, some of the crackers will end up with bigger chunks of cheese in them than others but since when has that been a problem?
Do you still have a can of pumpkin lingering in your cabinet post-Thanksgiving? Get rid of it by introducing the contents to pantry staples including flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and oil. The zombie flesh color comes from red food coloring. Without it, these are merely tasty pumpkin crackers you can make from unrefrigerated pantry staples. With it, you can make some reasonable looking peeled, dehydrated skin to menacingly chew in front of your housemates. Don’t let them forget who will survive if the snow is worse than expected.
OTHER SAVORY FOODS
Purists will tell you Yorkshire Pudding isn’t the real deal without beef drippings, but the realists I know substitute butter all the time. Other than tasty, tasty fat, you only need flour, eggs, milk, and salt. That’s it. For best results, let the batter sit for at least two hours. The longer you let it sit, the more your puds will puff up, so don’t feel shy about making half a batch today and saving the rest of the batter for a fresh batch tomorrow!
This Hobbit-tastic main dish is basically mashed potatoes with some grated potatoes, all held together with flour, butter and milk, then topped with bacon. If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, feel free to use the boxed kind (I won’t tell.) If you’re out of butter and cow milk, try making a vegan version substituting oil for the butter and veggie broth for the milk. No refrigerated ingredients required!
Like most people, you probably brought home a LOT of eggs. Once you’re tired of scrambling them or making French Toast, try this easy variation on hard boiled eggs. The only cooking step is, “boil water.” If you don’t own the spices (or a couple tbsp Chinese Five Spice powder to substitute), try boiling your eggs with the tea bags, ¼ cup soy sauce and 1 tsp garlic powder for a nicely savory set of hard boiled eggs. Don’t forget to crack the shells so the flavor can seep in!