Baked Oatmeal

Getting Creative with Pantry Staples

By: Ashley Martinez, MFN, RD, LD, NASM-CPT

We’ve all encountered this dilemma: you have an array of foods available but just don’t know how to put them together, or you think that missing one ingredient means you can’t make what you’re craving. In our haste or hunger, some of us might make the decision to order delivery instead. But let’s think about this a little bit differently for a second: What exactly do you want to eat? Is it something hot? Hearty? Spicy?

What if you knew you could make almost anything, if you just approached it with a creative eye and a few quick kitchen tricks? Reduce food waste by using up the ingredients you have on hand! These ideas below will inspire you to think differently about your pantry by using the foods you have available in a more creative and meaningful way.

Start Your Day with Baking

Freshly baked goods can’t be beat, especially first thing in the morning. The house smells amazing and it’s something productive to do as soon as the birds begin to chirp. I think we’ve all forgotten that baking with just a few ingredients can be extremely fast and easy. The waiting process is the only hard part! Heat the oven to 350 degrees F to get a head start then ask “What is it that sounds tasty? Cookies? Bars? Balls? Casserole-style? The world is your oyster. Here’s one idea:

Baked Oatmeal

Prep: 15 minutes | Cook: 45 minutes | Total: 1 hour

Serves: 6


  • 2 cups oatmeal (can sub oatmeal flour/almond flour, just reduce to 1.5 cups)
  • 1.5 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 banana, ripe and mashed (just about any fruit can substitute here)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce (can use any fruit here, even frozen fruit if thawed and mashed/pureed)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup of milk or plant-based milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter, almond or sunflower butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg (can sub flax egg: 1 Tbsp. flax meal to 2.5 Tbsp. water; whisk together and let sit for a few minutes to thicken)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 8”x8” pan (or any size pan).
  2. In a large bowl, mix oatmeal, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg. Add mashed banana/fruit, applesauce, milk, peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract and add to dry ingredients. Mix well, then pour into pan.
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Keep an eye on it if you use a different size pan, as you will need to adjust your cooking time.
  5. Once golden brown, remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and fresh or canned fruit on top.


There are a million and one ways to make pasta. If you’re missing a key ingredient (sauce, for example), here are some key ways to think outside the pasta box:

  • Got frozen veggies? Perfect! Use them to mix in with your pasta. Roast then puree into a roasted vegetable sauce using a food processor or blender. Add some oregano, garlic powder and a pinch of salt/pepper to the mix. Gradually add extra virgin olive oil to the puree working toward a sauce-like consistency. Taste as it’s mixed to get the flavor in the right spot.
  • Get saucy. If you don’t have jarred sauce, Here’s how to use what you have on hand: Using equal parts flour and melted butter, mix in a saucepan until a roux is formed. Once it is a paste-like texture, add canned tomato sauce (or even milk for an Alfredo sauce) and mix in with the roux. The roux keeps the sauce thick, and adding some spices, herbs, cheese or even a splash of red wine vinegar will get your sauce to a familiar palette. Don’t have flour or butter? No problem. Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on the pasta, just enough to coat the noodles. Add some cheese, cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt to top it off. Simple, easy, yet delicious!
  • Pasta salad! Don’t forget pasta can be enjoyed cold, too! Mix with jarred olives, sun-dried tomatoes, diced avocado and any other fresh, frozen or canned vegetables hanging around. The juice from the olives and sun-dried tomatoes give the pasta a nice, flavorful dressing.

Zero Hunger, Zero Waste Omelets

Need to use up that produce? Omelets, frittatas and quiches are perfect solutions that contribute to a hearty and nutritious meal. Eggs are considered a complete protein providing satiety – the feeling of being full – once consumed. Did you know that eggs are still good to use a month past their sell-by date? They keep exceptionally well in the fridge and are a very inexpensive protein source. Here is simple recipe that will get you on your way:

Classic Frittata

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 10 minutes | Total: 20 minutes

Serves: 1


  • 1 cup chopped vegetables (your choice)
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Heat an oven-proof non-stick pan to medium. Add avocado butter once heated.
  3. Add chopped vegetables and sauté until cooked throughout. Allow them to cook a bit longer before you sauté if you want crispy vegetables.
  4. Beat eggs with salt and pepper, then add to pan. Let egg mixture cook, lifting with spatula every few seconds to help them cook easily.
  5. Once eggs set, slide pan into oven to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Top frittata with cheese if desired.

There are so many ways to get creative in the kitchen! You’ll be surprised to see what you can come up with when you may not have a specific ingredient handy. These recipes should serve as inspiration for you to cook the way you want with the foods you have. Cook well and be well!

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