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- A​ little of this and a little of that

Home cooking: w​hat to do with limited supplies

L​ook into your pantry and think outside the recipe

1y ago

I have been so blessed to have food supplies my entire life. But as of recently, there is a real concern with going to the grocery store – and if I do, will they even have the items I need?

In the southern part of the United States where I call home, we are used to seeing a couple hurricanes per year. Milk and bread will be hard to find for a day or two, but other than that the markets will have almost anything you're looking for. We had to make a quick run to the market yesterday just like with hurricane season; milk and bread were the first to go (toilet paper too, but that's another discussion), and there were plenty of empty shelves.

In the same chaotic store I had an old friend come up to me and ask, "Do you actually test all of the recipes you post?". It's a question I am often asked. The answer is, yes, I do – my friends and family are my test subjects. Some are winners yet some need a little work.

Another question people often ask is how do I find the recipes that I use? This question is a little harder to answer because I find inspiration in multiple places. Our family library contains many passed-down recipes and cookbooks, as well as copied recipes from here and there. Most of my research is done online, or simply by asking someone to tell me about their favorite dish. Then I put my own spin on it by adding a local ingredient – and sometimes by using what I find in my pantry and fridge.

Not too long ago, I volunteered to bring a breakfast dish to my Sunday school class. I found a beautiful frittata recipe which included kale, ricotta cheese and fresh thyme. I couldn’t wait to try this new recipe because it not only looked amazing but sounded delicious.

I woke up early on Sunday morning, went to the refrigerator, and to my surprise we didn’t have any kale, ricotta cheese or thyme. Not willing for us to show up empty handed, I turned my attention to what we did have. Fortunately, my wife had just purchased fresh local collards and beets from our city center's farmers market. She had also recently purchased fresh parsley and mozzarella cheese. Surely these items would work in harmony together... Right?

Good news, the frittata was a big hit, and multiple people commented on how much they enjoyed it. My friend, David, referred to me as the “MacGyver of the kitchen”. This is just one example of how I get the well tested recipes that I post.

Now, a question for you. Are you one of those people that only uses a recipe as a reference, or do you follow every single step? I urge you to try something a little 'outside the recipe'.

In times like these, we need to use what we have, not let our fresh vegetables go bad. Look at that one can or tin that has been sitting in the cabinet waiting for its turn. It has been there so long that you forgot that you even had it. Find a way to incorporate it into something new, or add it to that favorite dish you planed for dinner tonight.

Do a quick inventory of what you have in your pantry and fridge, then look for a recipe that piques your interest. Don't be afraid to try something a little different. Just go for it. It could very well turn out to be amazing — or not. The important thing is, have some fun and see what you come up with thinking outside the recipe.

T​ake an inventory of what you have

T​ake an inventory of what you have

So, I ask. Will you let your creative food flag fly? Let me know what you make, and how it turned out. I love seeing pictures and hearing the stories, so please share.

Collard and beet greens frittata

Clean-out-the-fridge frittata



  • 8 eggs (2 per person)
  • 1 lemon (for juicing)
  • 1/2 handful fresh collard greens (or any leaf vegetable)
  • 1/2 handful beet greens (or any leaf vegetable)
  • 1 piece of prosciutto (or any protein)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (optional – or any other cheese)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Chop the greens and cook over a medium heat in a dry pan for 5 minutes till they start to wilt. Remove from pan. Drizzle greens with olive oil and add the juice from 1/2 a lemon. Season greens with salt and pepper, then set aside.
  2. Break the eggs in a mixing bowl, then lightly beat. Add the olive oil to the pan and pour in the eggs.
  3. Roughly chop the prosciutto and sprinkle into the pan. Add the greens and gently press into the eggs. Cover the top with shredded cheese.
  4. Bake on 350F for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Recipe Notes

B​e creative! Use what you have.

Recipe by

Doug the FoodGuy (Doug Smith)

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Comments (4)

  • Great post! This kind of cooking reminds me of a show we used to have up north on the CBC called The Urban Peasant. You could never call him a chef but he was excellent at showing people how to use what they had lying around to make a quick, easy dinner. Seems like a lost art these days, although I'm sure that'll change in the near future...

      1 year ago
    • Thank you for your kind words. We have had many good and some not so good meals over the last few weeks. But the best part is we are cooking together and enjoying each other’s company 👍

        1 year ago
  • If it’s the first time I use a recipe. After that it’s just instinct

      1 year ago