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Meal using ONLY the cans in your cupboard? (spices ok too, and tap water)

I was looking over the can stash in the pantry today, and was mentally ticking off meals I could put together from what was there. The best I could come up with was four-bean chili (turtle beans, kidney beans, garbanzos and cannelini,fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste, spices;) cornbread (yup, the mix comes in a can, thanks Costco), served up with some canned pineapple that I'd pan-roast with some cardamom and coriander and sauce with a little dulce de leche. Not half bad. What's yours?

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  1. I bet I could do a black bean and corn salsa - beans, canned corn, jar of salsa to sub for the onion, peppers and tomato, maybe some canned green chilis, cumin, some homemade chili powder for heat. Serve on tortilla chips. (Do bags count?)
    That's a meal, isn't it? Lunch maybe?

    Cooked condensed milk spread on cookies for dessert.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jmcarthur8

      For this challenge, I wasn't allowing bags. But your salsa sounds pret' darn good there, jmcarthur8!! If you had canned broth, you'd be good to go for soup, though... ;-)

    2. I could do a sort of backwards vitello tonnato -- I've got a jar of baby food veal and a can of tuna to use as a base. (off to check recipes). Well, I guess not. Too many other components are missing.

      I can make tuna cakes, served with black beans and mustard greens over dirty rice

      4 Replies
      1. re: weezycom

        Hey weezy, that's a good one! Backwards vitello tonnato. I'm guessin' you'd use the babyfood to sauce the tuna? V. inventive. The menu you came up with in it's place is a pretty good one, too. When I was a young thing, I'd feed me boyo jarred babyfood meat (hey, I said I was young!). One day he got picky on me, so I was playing a "bite for you and a bite for me." In swooped the veal babyfood-coated baby spoon! OUT swooped the baby spoon from Mama's mouth - no words to describe what I was tasting. Made homemade babyfood ever since then!! I totally got what was making him so picky!

        1. re: mamachef

          I actually got the veal for my cat, to keep her from running and hiding when the vet came for a visit! I haven't tried it myself. And now I won't have to.

          1. re: weezycom

            I did it for you. You owe me. :-)

      2. We've done this for years: Pretend there was an earthquake. Each of us gets to pick out three cans. Without discussion or coordination.

        Then we decide what else is needed. If we need a protein, something from the freezer. Or something from the counter.

        Gets a lot cleaned up. Always unique. Some items have become 'regular' side dishes.

        14 Replies
        1. re: Cathy

          I love it; three cans without discussion or coordination. That must've had you seriously flying by the seat of your pants, Cathy. Do you mind sharing what things became regulars in your rotation?

          1. re: mamachef

            -Manwich (sorry), chopped green chiles, black olives, kidney beans.

            -slice sweet potatoes into chunks, boil and cool. the skin will then peel off). top with a can of coconut-pecan frosting and heat until frosting melts. This works for tailgates as well as Thanksgiving dinner.

            Frozen fish/shrimp/chicken or canned crab: Melt ~1 stick of butter with one 'tube' of crushed crackers (Saltines or Ritz). Layer some on bottom of smaller casserole, protein on top, top with rest of crackers and pour a half diluted (with milk) can of cream of xx soup over it all. Bake. If protein is cooked, maybe 20 min, if raw, more like 30 min.

            Casserole: Frozen hash browns, stick of melted butter, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, can of green beans, can of mushrooms, can of artichokes in water, shredded cheese. Mix and put in oven until heated through.

            -(after much experimentation) A can of canned fruit-IN HEAVY SYRUP- put in the freezer. Open both ends and push out into the blender. Refreshing dessert. I now look in Asian markets for 'unusual' canned fruits in heavy syrup. Longan is nice. So are bananas.

            1. re: Cathy

              Cathy, I'd have NEVER thought to use icing in such a way. Freakin' brilliant. I'm passing that one onto Mike and Dan, the brownbelts (they're still young) of the tailgate.
              Please, doll: don't EVER apologize for what you choose to cook and how you choose to prepare it. I've said it before: I'm a Chowhound, not a food snob. I use my share of convenience products. I make my own Sloppy Joe sauce from scratch 'cause I'm too damn cheap to buy Manwich and I find it about as easy, but if I wasn't cheap? I've eaten the stuff, and it was fine with me. I like to come here to find out about other people and what and how they eat, not to sneer at their lifestyle.
              I LOVE THE FRUIT IDEA!! I'M GONNA MAKE IT WITH LITCHIS!! Back in college, I had a friend who'd puree canned peaches and freeze the resuts in ice-cube trays. Then we'd put peach cubes into white wine, or soda, or mixed drinks, and it was pretty damn good. Oh, and your casserole? I could eat the whole thing, I think. Question: you don't mean to add the artichoke-water, right? Only that they shouldn't be the marinated sort?

              1. re: mamachef

                Uhhh.

                Why am I dinged for rice and pasta and she is using:

                Raw sweet potatoes
                Frozen fish/shrimp/chicken
                Is there canned butter?
                I haven't seen canned saltines...have you?
                Frozen hash browns
                Is there canned shredded cheese? I"ve never seen it.

                1. re: toomuchfat

                  toomuchfat, she's talking:
                  canned sweet potatoes
                  canned fish/shrimp/chicken
                  Yes, there is canned butter.
                  And though I haven't seen saltines per se, I have seen other crackers that came from a cardboard "can" (the kind where you remove the tin top and then use a plastic lid to keep what's inside safe.) Shredded potatoes also can be purchased in their freeze dried state in restaurant-sized cans. And the cheese, though not shredded, is available in a can. These would all be workable pantry-shelf only substitutions. I wasn't trying to ding you, though. I have a job, and it's not to make other people unhappy or feel bad about themselves.
                  Her response was to a question of mine regarding things she makes routinely now after attempting a challenge like this one, not a response to the original question.

                  1. re: mamachef

                    Fair enough.

                    In light of your statement: "I wasn't trying to ding you, though. I have a job, and it's not to make other people unhappy or feel bad about themselves."
                    it seems that you could have cut a little slack...pasta and rice, while not canned, are pantry staples.

                    1. re: toomuchfat

                      But that's not what this thread was intended to be about, toomuchfat!! If I had left it as wide-angled as "pantry items", there's virtually no limit to what people could do - plus, that's a HIGHLY interpretable term, agreed? My interest was in the limitations inherent in the challenge of "cans only." I actually thought I DID slack off when I allowed for water and spices!! : ), but then I figured, well, it would be nice if all this food were semi-tasty. Or had any taste at all. BUT: had my thread been that inclusive, I would pay homage because your ideas were good ones.
                      Have a good evening, friend.

                      1. re: mamachef

                        Why cans only? It's not very realistic. What's realistic is shell stable items.

                        1. re: toomuchfat

                          I was thinking the point is not so much to be realistic as it is to be a challenge.
                          To include shelf stable items would make it too easy a challenge!

                            1. re: mamachef

                              damn. Gotta take the dirty rice off my menu, then. That's a box of Zatarain's.

                  2. re: toomuchfat

                    Sorry, we evolved off into another conversation and I mentioned what my original "earthquake" recipes evolved into. They did all start with only cans though- you can buy canned potatoes (which we used to carry for camping) and used the Velveeta-ish canned cheese from Mac and Cheese. Canned butter is in Asian grocery stores. Canned milk is also used in a lot of the creations.

                    It's just a game we play. In anticipation of an earthquake. That was all my point was. I didn't mean to offshot the original point of the post.

                    1. re: Cathy

                      Notta problem, Cathy. It's clear that you understand the intent behind the post.

                  3. re: mamachef

                    It's more fun if you don't tell anyone how you made the sweet potatoes. They think there are tonsof ingredients and that it is complicated.

                    Originally used canned sweet potatoes, but fresh are so much cheaper and I suppose 'healthier', but also adds to the 'complication' factor to pass on the recipe.

                    I had bought the Manwich in case of an emergency...now it's deliberate.

            2. This post so intrigued me I went home last night and looked in the pantry. I could survive a few days on what's in there.

              I could make: Clam and Sweet Corn Chowder (no potato or onion); Hamburger Helper with TVP instead of beef: Spaghetti Sauce (the kind I used to make before Giada's Italian Cookbook was gifted to me and taught me what real sauce tastes like) with mushrooms - lots of mushrooms; or a Vegetarian Chili with kidney and black beans, and TVP for protein.

              Doesn't sound like we would be eating great gourmet meals, but we could survive a day or two!

              1. dice spam into 1/2" cubes and fry till crisp. add a can of cream of mushroom soup, a can or two of corn, salt and pepper to taste (with the spam, go easy on the salt), thin to desired consistency (either tap water, or better yet canned chicken broth), and simmer for a while (if possible.) Not the best corn chowder I've ever had, but not bad at all. Also done it with canned chicken, but the spam adds more depth of flavor.

                2 Replies
                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  I could have a mug of this and go to bed happy as a clam. And I bet this would work with clams thrown in for the Spam, no?

                  1. re: mamachef

                    no doubt it could, but i'm not a big fan of clams. can we compromise on canned shrimp or maybe crab?