Want to stay somewhere a bit longer than you’d originally intended? Is the fridge looking bare? No refrigeration meals are the answer. With some advance planning, you can easily add another 4-5 days (or longer) by eating meals requiring no previous refrigeration.
The assumption is that you’ve been out away from a store for awhile and used up most if not all your fresh veggies and fruits. Eggs do not need refrigeration unless they’ve already been refrigerated, so note that a couple of these ideas call for eggs. on the other hand, if your fridge is mostly bare, an extra 3 eggs won’t matter.
For us, breakfast is mostly the same each day. If it’s hot – like 90 degrees and steamy, who feels like eating anything kind of HOT – cereal. We have our current favorite cereal with UHT fat free milk and extras – dried cranberries or other fruit and almond slices are a yummy way to spruce up a boring bowl of cereal.
If it’s cold, we enjoy a hot bowl of “Boatmeal” – fill a bowl (or cup) with oatmeal, cover with boiling water and wait 5 minutes. “Boatmeal” goes well with dried fruit and almond slices too!
What’s UHT milk? It comes in a box on the supermarket shelves. Due to the ultra high temperatures used during pasteurization, it doesn’t require refrigeration until it’s opened. And the good news is that these days it comes in several different varieties – we prefer the Fat Free, but 2%, soy and even almond milk are available UHT. Stock an extra few in storage along with a box of cereal.
COLD UHT milk is highly recommended. If your refrigerator is bare, you’ll have plenty of room to refrigerate the UHT milk – at least after it’s opened (but I’d put it in the night before so it’s chilled for that first bowl of cereal too!)
Extra boxes of “bars” – fruit, nut or whatever my favorite flavor of that month might be come in useful, primarily as hiking snacks, but every now and then they taste great for breakfast.
Don’t forget extra coffee and if you’re juice drinkers, stock up with some boxes of juice that don’t need refrigeration. With the empty refrigerator, you can pop them in the night before and have ice cold juice in the morning.
Day 1 – Classic Tuna Salad – we like ours with a can of drained, flaked tuna, dill relish, diced onion, dijon or spicy mustard, and light mayo. NOTE: you don’t need to refrigerate either, just make sure that any utensils are totally clean before you put them in the jars! If you have extra eggs, chop up a hardboiled egg as a nice addition.
Day 2 – PB&J … who doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly. Jelly doesn’t really have to be refrigerated unless you’re in a really hot climate and even then it’s ok for a few days – might be a bit runnier than you’d prefer, but not unsafe.
Day 3 – Leftover Mix n Match Pasta Salad (see below).
Day 4 – Hiking lunches – we take a bag of mixed almonds – I like cocoa and David prefers sea salt; a couple bars, an apple or other fruit if we haven’t eaten them all yet, plus some crackers and a foil packet of either tuna or chicken. Hardboiled eggs are always a good addition.
Day 5 – Chicken salad – make up a chicken salad – drain and flake a can of white chicken breast, add a bit of light mayo and dijon mustard . Dice an onion, chop some nuts (we like pecans), a pepper if you happen to have one on hand, add some seasonings and serve with crackers or on bread if you prefer.
Extra No Refrigeration Dinners
Day 1 – Mix n Match Pasta Salad – take two or three boxes (for several meals). We use “Suddenly Salad” because it’s convenient, but you can certainly make your own from scratch. With Suddenly Salad, all we need is a bit of olive oil and some cold water to make the dressing. But it’s better “spiced up”. We mix n match adding sliced almonds, dried cranberries or other dried fruit. Consider adding a can of drained flaked salmon, chicken breast or even tuna. Or jars of things like olives, banana peppers and sliced mushrooms. Plus everything’s better with bacon (I use the “real bacon pieces” in the bag from Hormel). Leftovers can be used for lunch the next day.
Day 2 – Quinoa Salad – boil up a cup of quinoa, let it cool, add a can of rinsed drained black beans, a diced onion, a small can of corn, some seasonings (we like Tony Chachers’s Original Creole Seasoning), a sprinkling of jalapeno peppers if you still have them and a dash of chipolte hot sauce. Mix in some Kraft-style parmesan cheese for extra flavor. Serve warm or cold. If you happen to still have some green onions, chop and add as a garnish on top. Yum! Serve with crackers or chips.
Day 3 – Tacos – make the taco meat with canned chicken – or roast beef. Drain any gravy, then season with a packet of taco seasoning. Serve with tortillas, salsas, diced onion and a can of petite diced tomatoes. Finely chopped cabbage can be a good substitute for chopped lettuce on the tacos. Cabbage lasts forever and can be left unrefrigerated. Be sure to bring taco sauce or your favorite chipolte hot sauce. We like a salad with our tacos, but that’s only if there’s lettuce left which is usually not the case.
Day 4 – Couscous Chicken – the ultimate in easy! Bring 1 cup of water to a boil (I use the water from the can of white chicken breast and supplement it with water if there’s not a cup). Add a dash of salt and 2/3 cup of couscous. Cover and turn off the heat. The couscous will cook itself in 5 minutes or so. Stir occasionally. At the same time, put 1 can of petite diced tomatoes in a small pan and heat to boiling. Add the chicken and spices (we like 1/2 tsp tarragon, salt, pepper to taste – or you could substitute oregano for the tarragon). Turn off the burner and let stand for a couple of minutes to heat the chicken. Serve over the couscous.
Day 5 – Black Bean Burgers. Easy in a skillet! 2-3 cans rinsed drained black beans, 1 1/2 cups uncooked oatmeal, 1 diced onion, 2 jalapeno peppers (diced & seeded) – or cumin or red pepper seasoning, 1 tsp dried cilantro (if you’re making these elsewhere, fresh cilantro 1/2 cup chopped is great!), 2 eggs beaten, 1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1 T canola oil. Mash the black beans with a potato masher or fork. Combine the mashed beans with the oats, onion, pepper, cilantro, eggs and salt. Shape into patties. Combine the flour and cornmeal on a plate and coat each patty. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the burgers for 5 minutes on each side (or until they’re “done” – some stoves take less time). Remove from skillet and put on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve as you would a hamburger with chips or applesauce and your favorite beverage.
So what are your “extra” meals – stashed away to allow you to linger? Please leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan