3 easy, healthy pantry meals for during the government shutdown


With so much uncertainty with the government shutdown, I think most of us are reexamining our budgets and trying to be as conservative as possible. Even if you’re just trying to watch your spending and save a little moo-lah, I’ve got a three options that won’t break the bank or compromise your health.

Please note: I’m a firm advocate for eating as fresh as possible with limited packaged foods. However, I’m also a realist and I know it can be difficult to stick to a specific plan, especially when funds get low and stress levels are high. These are my suggestions for healthier options. As always, make substitutions as needed based on your families’ dietary preferences/restrictions.


Chili – if you’re like me, you always have canned tomatoes & beans & ground beef on hand. This is my favorite recipe and you can easily add whatever vegetables you have on hand. I’ve added green peppers, zucchini and eggplant successfully.

1 lb. ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 large can tomato sauce

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed

1 can kidney beans, drained & rinsed

1 can white northern beans, drained & rinsed

chili powder to taste (I use about 2-3 tbsp)

Brown ground beef. Drain off excess fat. Add tomato sauce and tomatoes and beans. Cook on medium heat for about 15 min to warm through.

*Perk up leftovers by serving over rice, quinoa, pasta or even baked sweet potatoes.


Spanish rice – Rice, pasta sauce, ground beef. How much simpler can you get? Round out the meal with a side salad or some frozen veggies. (Tip: Frozen veggies are a good option when you’re budget is stretched – they’re cheaper, but still just as nutritious.)

1 lb. ground beef (or sausage)

1 jar pasta sauce (whatever flavor you like)

2 cups rice, uncooked

Cook rice according to directions. While it’s cooking, brown the ground beef. Drain ground beef once it’s browned. Mix ground beef with pasta sauce and cooked rice. Taste for seasoning (Feel free to add anything you’d like here). Pour into 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for about 10-20 minutes.

*Use leftover mix to stuff green peppers and bake the following day for a new dish.


Crustless quiche – this is great if you have produce that’s *almost* past it’s prime. Just steam it a bit before mixing it in with some eggs & cheese and you’re good to go.

4 eggs

1 1/4 cup milk

2 tbsp flour

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups grated swiss cheese

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

at least 1/2 cup veggies (best to lightly steam if raw)

1/2 cup leftover meat (optional)

Mix eggs, milk, salt, pepper and flour together. Add cheese, vegetables and meat and mix together. Pour into deep dish pie pan and bake at 325 for 1 hour. Allow to cool before serving.

What are your favorite budget-friendly meals?

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