With Thanksgiving fewer than two weeks away, it's time to whip your pantry, fridge, and freezer into shape.
You'll need to make space for the holiday staples you'll stock up on, the cookies you'll freeze, and the leftovers the big meals create.
This is the perfect time to use up all those items that might be close to their expiration dates or those canned goods you bought thinking, "This might be good to have on hand."
Step 1: Quickly sort through your fridge and pantry, tossing anything that's past the expiration date. Check those condiments!
Step 2: Get creative and come up with meals based on whatever is left that you want to use up.
Sites like Allrecipes and Supercook that allow you to search for recipes based on ingredients you have can be a big help.
For the next week or so, try to shop only for perishables (e.g. milk, eggs, vegetables) to round out the meals that you'll make with all those pantry finds.
Need help coming up with ideas? Here's my fancy-ish take on tuna noodle casserole (no noodles) that my family loves, even though my kids don't like canned tuna served any other way. It uses up canned tuna and frozen peas. As long as you keep the butter, flour, milk, and eggs the same, everything else is flexible and you can vary the ingredients and quantities to suit your needs.
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence or other herbs that you like (dill is yummy)
1/2 cup grated cheese (Parmesan, cheddar, gruyere, swiss, or a combination)
2 cans of tuna (Best if packed in water, but whatever you have will work.)
about 1/2 bag of frozen peas, thawed (or canned if that's what you have)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Butter a 1-quart souffle or casserole dish.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour and blend until smooth and cook over low heat until golden. While whisking butter and flour, add the milk all at once. Stir constantly and cook until thick. Add salt, pepper, and herbs. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add cheese, tuna, and thawed peas. Stir to combine. Add cooled milk mixture and stir. Pour into buttered dish and bake 30-40 minutes until eggs are set and top is puffed and golden.
Serve immediately. Souffle will fall a little, so don't worry about that. It's great with a simple green salad and some French bread.