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Some ideas for dinner with basic store-cupboard stuff

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I'm going to be away somewhere quite remote without much in the way of a supermarket. I'll be cooking for family. I need ideas of nice enough meals i can make with basic ingredients. I'll probably be able to get my hands on: pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic, eggs, possibly some grated cheese, tinned tuna, ham, tinned corn, mustard, some dry herbs, milk, olive oil, butter, flour, sugar, bread... and, well, that's about it!

It doesn't have to be gourmet, but I'd like to be able to do something other than pasta with tomato sauce every day. Any ideas gratefully received!

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  1. I'm not so sure of being able to create complete meals as the only vegetable you have listed is tinned corn but a few suggestions for individual dishes include potato hash: cube up & pan cook (using the olive oil) potatoes, onions, garlic & herbs. You could pair this with eggs & ham for a complete meal (breakfast or dinner).

    With the ham (using breadcrumbs, eggs & herbs) you could make ham croquettes or fritters, which you could serve with a rice pilaf & corn and perhaps a mustard sauce.

    French toast, pancakes or waffles, either can be served for any meal

    Pizza (if you can get yeast)

    Tomato pudding as a side dish

    Hope this helps!

    1. A strata made with onions, potatoes, cheese, herbs, milk and eggs? Many kinds of soups could be made with those ingredients and served with some focaccia or rolls and a salad. Garlic spaghetti is my "go to" when the cupboards are lean. Spanish tortilla would use the potatoes, onions and eggs.

      1. Even though corn may be fibrous, it's a starch, not a vegetable. So, for healthy meal planning purposes, you don't have much to work with. Any of the starches you have listed can be used with the other ingredients for stratas, casseroles, fry pan or oven single dish meals. Think Spanish rice, gratins, potato pancakes, Spanish omelets, Crostini, potato or tomato soup, creamed ham or tuna, take some yeast and salt and you've got flat breads, focaccia, etc.

        1. 1) When we lived abroad my mother used to make corned beef hash by combining canned corned beef with sliced boiled potatoes, then she would put this in a baking dish, heat it in the oven, make holes in it, break an egg into each hole,and bake it again until the eggs were set. 2) For years I have made clam chowder using canned minced clams, potato, onion, butter, and milk. 3) You can make a good corn chowder using canned cream-style corn, milk to thin it, a little instant mashed potato to thicken it to taste, and anything suitable you care to add---onions, bits of sausage or bacon or ham, sliced potatoes etc. 4) Kedgeree: saute onions with butter and curry powder. Add while hot to hot rice. Before serving, fold in any tinned seafood you have (tuna, salmon, clams, oysters, crabmeat, little shrimp) and garnish with quartered hardboiled eggs.---serve with hot buttered toast and hot tea. 5) I should think you could improvise a tamale pie using cornbread mix and canned chili con carne. 6) Drain liquid from canned pork & beans, add generous ketchup and brown sugar, and bake with something on top, half-buried in the beans---sliced onions, chunks of ham (it comes canned). 7) Dried chipped beef, creamed, on toast, the famed SOS of Army fame. It's good. Will you have refrigeration? A baked ham or half a ham in the refrigerator inspires an infinite number of casseroles, and cheese leads to grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese souffle', and cheese omelets.

          1. It doesn't sound like you will have fresh meat so here are a few main dish ideas.

            Stirfry with ham, rice and veggies or noodles, ham and veggies.
            Tuna Noodle casserole
            My mother used to make ham biscuits with gravy (we were poor).
            Ham and bean soup would be great and works well as leftovers.
            Ham hash (nice for breakfast)
            Ham and eggs
            Rice pilaf with whatever meat and veggies you have.

            Finally, if someone in your group is an outdoor enthusiast, and depending on how remote you will be, perhaps someone could set some traps for rabbits. I realize this option is probably not feasible but I thought i would throw it out there.

            1. Thanks for the ideas. I'd never heard of tomato pudding before. We'll have a fridge, yes. I'm going to try and take some cans of beans and other pulses along too for nutrition. Yeast is a great idea to.
              Thanks again, keep them coming...

              4 Replies
              1. re: loukoumades

                What do local people eat? Is there any supplement from the local diet?

                1. re: jeanmarieok

                  It's a bit complicated as to why we're not going to be able to get our hands on much food - a mix of transport problems and remoteness. Local people will have stocked up on dry pulses, cans and other stuff, which we won't have had a chance to stock up on. We may be able to get our hands on more stuff from locals, but I want to have some ideas up my sleeve for a worst case scenario (no internet when we're there obviously for desperation googling).

                  That said, there may be some fish to be had. Hope so!

                2. re: loukoumades

                  Yeah, I was going to suggest that you bring some dried beans and lentils with you--cheaper, less heavy, and tastier results, imo. There are a billion ways to riff on "rice 'n' beans," especially if you can get your hands on some bacon (It seems like even the most basic supermarkets have that). And lentil soup is always delicious.

                  Maybe bring some dried fruits like raisins, cherries, cranberries etc. also? Nutritious, virtually non-perishable, easily transportable and great in things like pancakes and muffins that you can make with basic staples, and which can use some taste variation to keep them from becoming monotonous. (So either bring, or make sure you have access to baking soda and baking powder too!) They're good in some stews too.

                  Also, canned clams are a very versatile and relatively common pantry item. You can make a basic clam chowder with them (and potatoes, onions, milk or cream, canned corn, and hopefully bacon). You can also make white or red clam sauce for pasta. Or clam cakes/fritters with flour and/or potatoes, onions and egg, seasoning etc. There are a lot of possibilities.

                  1. re: loukoumades

                    When camping we always brought packages of dry gravy and cheese sauce mix and soup mixes to jazz up the powdered eggs and freeze dried meals. Knorr makes a good line of sauces etc. They don't take up much space and last for ever.

                  2. ham potatoes corn
                    tuna sandwiches served many ways, I like open faced with pine nuts under broiler
                    tuna casserole
                    ham peas pasta
                    lentil salad with veggies and olive oil and balsamic
                    chickpea curry with canned coconut milk over rice
                    spanish rice with spanish eggs...
                    veggie pot pies with canned veggies if no fresh
                    canned soup and chili an option?
                    eggs and toast, french toast, can you do oatmeal?

                    1. It seems that you aren't going to be able to transport food in a cooler to your destination - is that the situation?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Terrie H.

                        No, transporting a cooler will be difficult. But I can take some non-perishables with us, so long as it's not too bulky or heavy.

                        So far, I've got down to take with:
                        - oatmeal (thanks danionavenue, good idea)
                        - yeast
                        - canned beans and lentils

                        1. re: loukoumades

                          Challenging! This is a tough one, not knowing what you will know what will be available!

                          If you can tuck jars of roasted red peppers, olives, and marinated artichokes in your luggage, you'll have a good antipasti with some bread. Tuna and canned white beans with a little onion and olive oil makes a nice lunch. Tuna and pasta salad is also good. Good soup could be an idea. Dried or canned beans, veggies, chicken broth, pasta, etc. Canned clams, bacon and potatoes would make a decent clam chowder.

                        2. re: Terrie H.

                          If you put tinned vegetables into soups or pot pies, they don't seem quite so canned...beer/cheese soup with some cans of mixed vegetables, chicken pot pie with canned chicken & canned vegetables (if you have butter & flour & salt you can make pastry or take some filo dough...in fact, take filo dough anyway...you can use canned spinach & grated cheese for spanikopita, maybe with a chicken avgolemono soup? Canned chicken, chicken stock, lemon juice & rice. Don't forget the lemon juice, the acid helps freshen up the taste of canned stuff. It kind of sounds like fun...a cooking challenge. Very zombacalypse.

                        3. may I suggest that you find a brand of stock cubes that you like, and take along. Also, dried vegetables, such as carrots, onions, celery, tomatoes are lightweight and compact, and will add some variety to made-from-the-pantry meals, Do you eat tinned salmon?
                          What about taking dried orange zest, raisins, or other fruit along to add to the oatmeal :)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: KarenDW

                            Haha, I just posted about dried fruit above, for muffins, pancakes, stews etc. Oatmeal is a great idea too! And I second your suggestion about stock cubes. Personally, I really like the "better than bouillion" stock concentrate. And there are a lot of varieties of it--even things like ham, lobster, and clam.

                          2. Can you get chicken stock or a stock base? Then you could make soups - potato and corn chowder, chicken noodle, vegetable soup (if you can get vegetables).

                            Will you have access to a food processor or immersion blender?
                            And any vegetables?

                            With what you list so far you could make:
                            Tuna salad with flaked tuna, diced red onion, cannellini beans, grating of garlic, extra vrgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice - lovely on a water cracker or crostini
                            Ham and cheese toasties http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Smoked-H...
                            Pasta with tuna sauce http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Pasta-Wi...
                            Rosti http://www.yummly.com/search#q=rosti+...
                            Cannellini (or other bean) spread - beans, lemon juice, roasted garlic, extra virgin olive oil - puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender - serve with crostini
                            Refried beans topped with poached eggs
                            Quiche
                            French toast

                            1. I'm with cherylptw, you're a little light on veggies. Maybe some dehydrated/dried veggies -- mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, peppers, celery --lightweight, versatile, colorful. Rehydrate and add to omelets, sauces, stews.

                              Don't know if you have lead time to order ahead but:
                              bulkfoods.com
                              nutsonline.com
                              emergencyessentials.com
                              Whole Foods also has some varieties pre-packaged and in bulk bins.

                              Also, cheese powder available at all those online suppliers.

                              Raisins begin to seem much more appealing when other sweets aren't available, I suggest a supply of these too.

                              Your mysterious journey has me intrigued also. :)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: DuchessNukem

                                How about my mother in law's Cuban tuna empanada: Saute a a chopped onion, green pepper, and clove of garlic until soft. Add about a half cup of white wine (cooking wine is ok here, believe it or not), then 3 cans of tuna in olive with oil drained, a small can of tomato sauce, some chopped parsley (dried is ok), some green olives with pimento (until it looks nicely populated), and a handul of frozen peas (canned would probably work). Let this ccook down a bit. Season with some salt, pepper, and if you can, smoked Spanish paprika-- about 1/4 teaspoon. Line a pie pan with a pie crust, add filling and top with another pie crust ( I use Pillsbury pre-made ones) and bake for about 35-45 minutes around 350 until nicely browned. Thi is best served warm.

                              2. Aside from tomato sauce, there a lot of other things you can do with pasta. You can toss the pasta with the canned tuna or canned clams and make a sauce simply with olive oil and grated parmesan -- add a little white wine or the juice from the clams. I've got a recipe for tortellini with a mushroom, cream sauce that uses reconstituted dried porcini mushrooms. And, although it's a bit decadent, it sounds like you have the makings for a carbonara or Alfredo sauce too.