There are times when you just cannot get to the grocery store. Whether it’s because we’re trying to save money, we don’t have time, or we’re social isolating, sometimes we need to create a recipe from ingredients we’ve already got on hand. This is when you really need to improvise dinner from the items that are already in your pantry or refrigerator.
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That’s where one of my favorite recipe sites comes in. Allrecipes.com is a free recipe site with lots to offer. Take a look over my shoulder while I walk you through one of my favorite features – the ingredient search.
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Take a tour of allrecipes.com to to help you improvise dinner
Features of allrecipes.com that make your life easier
I’m a bit old fashioned in that I love cookbooks and recipe boxes…the kind you can open up and flip through with your fingers.
But I also love having a million recipes at my fingertips as well. And that’s where online recipe sites give me options that just aren’t possible with printed cookbooks and recipe cards. After all, there is only so much shelf space in one house!
While allrecipes.com is a free site, you get the most out of it when you create your own account. Doing so allow allows you to create your own virtual recipe box with categories that you set up. The great thing is that you can make these categories as specific as you like so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
A few of my categories include:
- Main dishes: Beef
- Main dishes: Chicken
- Main dishes: Ground Turkey
- Main dishes: Pasta
- Side dishes: Slow cooker
- Side dishes: Salads
- Kid-friendly recipes
- Keto main dishes
You get the idea. This is truly customizable to your tastes and needs. And as you’re browsing recipes, you can add them to your favorites and categorize them on the spot. No more wondering, “Now what WAS that delicious recipe I saw?” and hunting for it later.
A well-stocked virtual recipe box makes it tons easier when the cupboards are low and you need to improvise to get dinner on the table.
The feature that saves money and helps me use what I’ve got on hand
But my favorite feature is the ingredient search.
Let’s face it…there are times when we need to make dinner and we’ve got this odd assortment of ingredients and no idea how to put them together to make a tasty dinner.
Perhaps you’ve got some pasta, some leftover diced chicken, and tomatoes. When I put those ingredients in the search box I’m given 258 potential recipes with these ingredients. There’s bound to be something that my family will enjoy when my brain can’t come up with something new.
Now this system isn’t perfect. If you’re too specific on the ingredients – for example you put in “elbow macaroni” instead of just “pasta”, your choices may come back very limited. That’s where some playing around with the system and perhaps renaming your ingredient slightly makes a big difference in the the number of recipes you’ll be given.
But even with limitations, I find better recipe options when I’m short on creativity and not sure what to cook with the items in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
I think you’ll find this a great tool to help you to use what’s on hand while cutting down on the number of shopping trips you need to make. And that’s going to save you time and money…which is going to tame at least a little bit of the frenzy we’re all feeling.