Coupons and the Pantry

I love to cook! Cooking for this dad is recreation and therapy after a long day at work. Coming home at 5 and kids expecting dinner by 5:30 is a challenge. This challenge is further complicated by their mother who keeps a frugal budget. I love to cook from the pantry. Cooking from the pantry means no stopping at the store on the way home to spend un-budgeted funds to make dinner prep easier.

Let me share my latest adventure.  Knowing a friend from church was joining my family of 4 for dinner, I placed 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts to thaw in the fridge before work.  Coming home I hit the pantry to find a way to use that chicken breast. A starch, vegetable and some dairy make for a combo that always works in our home.

In the fridge I found some cherry tomatoes, a half an onion, some minced garlic and a tub of Philadelphia Creme Cheese cooking creme. Melissa, my wife, found the cream cheese item with a coupon the week before. A whole wheat pasta in the pantry and frozen broccoli from the freezer and my plan was born.

With a tablespoon of vegetable oil, the half onion diced and a heaping tablespoon (or more) of the minced garlic I browned the chicken which was cubed into one inch pieces.  While the chicken was browning my stock pot was beginning to boil for my pasta.

Once the chicken is brown and cooked through, 5-7 minutes, I added the frozen broccoli and tomatoes. Lowering the heat I add two ice cubes and place a lid on my skillet. This allows the broccoli to steam and the tomatoes to warm through.

Give the skillet a few minutes to steam the broccoli and the pasta should be finished. I cooked mine a minute less than the box recommends to keep it firm. Straining the pasta, I added the chicken, vegetables and stirred in the Pesto Flavored Creme Cheese.

This dish when complete looked great, the broccoli green, tomato red and the pesto cream cheese adding flavor and color to the chicken and pasta. A complete dish and satisfactory for kids and an adult guest.  No measuring, no technical skill, but great flavor and service for five without leaving the kitchen for ingredients. Complete the meal with a piece of french bread, or a canned biscuit or croissant.

So dads, and moms too, take a chance, cook from the pantry. Impress your family with what you can put together from your pantry!  It will be fun and it helps the checkbook too!

Bryan is the husband to Melissa, father to two sons and happy human companion to Patrick the dog.  An avid twitter user and blogger he can found at or