Planned-Over $10 Meal: “Sponges” that are Quick, Easy, Delicious

What if       fill in the blank             ?    We’ve all been there: running late, company shows up unannounced, you open a package and the meat is spoiled, or the  bag of rice is full of bugs. What are you going to do for dinner? Do you have”sponges” in your pantry?

Picture of soup n sandwich.

This quick meal was assembled by using planned-overs.

Well-prepared teachers use “sponges” when there is a disaster in the classroom. These are emergency activities stored in the closet. Likewise, a well-stocked cupboard or freezer will often save your day  during a home emergency. Here are five foods you can have ready so you can assemble a $10 emergency family meal that is quick, easy and delicious.

Emergency foods need to be easily stored and have a reasonable shelf life. To be ready for that “emergency” prepare these ahead of time.

  • Sliced, frozen meat and cheese    Buy a deli ham, turkey breast, roasted beef, or brick of cheese from a restaurant supplier. Split it with friend because they are large (usually 4-7 pounds @ $2-$4/lb). Slice it, vacuum seal it, put the date on the bag and freeze it.
  • Ready-made salad   Buy salad mix in 5 lb bags from a restaurant supplier and use it daily. Better yet, get shredded cabbage for coleslaw, tacos and soup because it lasts longer and has more nutrients. Another option is to make a double batch of pasta salad and the extra can be your back-up as long as you use it within the week.
  • Bread   Have a couple of loaves of day-old specialty bread frozen in the freezer. It thaws quickly and can be used in lots of different ways. Another option is to have tubes of biscuit or pizza dough in the fridge but watch the pull date. Pasta is another grain product that should always be on hand.
  • Soup    Make extra soup and freeze some in plastic bags. Be sure to label it and use it within a month or so. You can have Bear Creek® soup mix on hand. A bag feeds about 8 and is $3.50 on sale. It does contain some preservatives so use it sparingly. A third option is to always have Better Than Bullion® in the fridge. It makes a great soup base and all you do is mix some in a soup pot and throw in some frozen veggies  and pasta.
  • Vegetables.   Always have a bag of mixed veggies in the freezer. Buy large bags from a restaurant supplier and use only what you need and keep the rest frozen. One pound bags can be purchased for $1 at the dollar Tree.

Putting the meal together:

The heated soup, salad, and steamed vegetables can be used as is.

The deli meat can be used a number of ways:

  1. Heat butter, mix with flour then pour in some milk to make a quick white sauce. Throw in some deli meat and serve over bread or biscuits
  2. Make deli sandwiches.
  3. Do a quick stir fry with the deli meat and vegetables.
  4. Heat the meat in bullion broth and have French dip sandwiches.
  5. Better yet…make an emergency plan with your family and buy or prepare the food needed.