Making Recipes Work for You

 In Food, Recipes, Shopping

Making Recipes Work for You

Tempted to skip over a recipe because of one ingredient? Just use something else! When planning menus, it’s okay to start with just a concept or an idea first instead of an exact recipe. For example, start with an idea like “stir-fry” or “soup,” and choose specific ingredients to use based on what’s in your pantry, what’s on sale, and leftovers.

Make changes to recipes based on:

  • Foods you have on hand, including leftovers
  • What’s in season
  • Your family’s tastes
  • Ingredients on sale
  • The amount of time you have free to cook
  • Healthier cooking methods

Use the following ideas to combine foods and flavors in a way that appeals to your family.

Type of Recipe What It Is Example Make It Work For You
Soup/stew Meat and/or vegetables cooked slowly in a broth with seasonings. Barley and Lentil Soup

Turkey Chili With Vegetables

Mix it up with different meats, vegetables, or beans.

Season to your tastes with different herbs or spices.

Go meatless.

casserole One-pot dish cooked slowly in the oven. Often contains rice or pasta, vegetables, beans, and/or meats. Vegetable Lasagna Use different types of cheese or different shapes of pasta.

Add chopped vegetables, meat, or tuna.

Season with different spices.

Salad Mix of grains, fruits, and/or cold veggies with a dressing. Southwestern Black-Eyed Pea and Corn Salad Use different grains, veggies, nuts, or dried fruits.
Wrap Mix of hot or cold foods inside a sandwich wrap. Hearty Egg Burritos

Veggie Wraps

Use different beans, vegetables, cheeses, or herbs.

Replace the eggs with tofu.

Make heartier by adding leftover rice or cooked meats.


Related Resources


The new Cooking Matters app for Android makes it simple to feed your family healthy foods, on any budget! Visit CookingMatters.org/app to plan meals with the touch of a button.

Exploring Food Together is a Cooking Matters toolkit of simple activities that adults can use to help kids learn about new foods and start building the skills to make healthy food choices.

Click to access the login or register cheese

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