How To Easily Cook Dinner When Produce Is Scarce

I always try to cook with vegetables and fruits that are in season. But right now, most of us have more canned and frozen produce on hand versus fresh. I normally have a bunch of fresh vegetables as part of my regular cooking routine since I am plant based but I have to be flexible right now.

how to easily cook dinner when produce is scarce

When I go to the supermarket, the staples are usually there: zucchini, red peppers, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Although some of it is looking very sad right now. Like it has been sitting there for the past couple of weeks. There is a heightened sensitivity to washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly. So if you buy fresh, make sure to wash it like you would wash your hands.

For inspiration of what to cook with the staples in my pantry, I decided to create a plan for weeknight dinners using the ingredients I bought as canned, frozen and fresh. Meal planning is key for me since we are staying at home a lot right now. Routine makes me feel comforted and reduces stress and anxiety.

The recipes below combine spending a little time over the weekend to cook so meals are heat and eat. Also, I included two vegetarian dishes. Since I am plant based, I rely heavily on vegetarian recipes to eat during the week. My husband has agreed to go from one vegetarian dinner per week to having it twice a week. I am so proud he made that decision. Plus, he likes meat replacements such as Beyond Meat, pictured in the below skillet.

skillet vegetarian dinner using beyond meat

Eating meat, chicken and fish all the time is not good for our bodies. Even when I try to buy organic and free range options, eating meat all the time makes me feel sluggish and weighed down. I've been plant based for so many years now, I don't even think about eating meat every day of the week.

My health is so much better since I went plant based. My cholesterol levels are down (they weren't high to begin with), it is easier to manage my weight and I have more energy. Gone is the bloating, gas and constipation. Gone is the fatigue and brain fog. Gone are the skin rashes and rosacea.

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When you start to eat whole clean foods, reduce the amount of meat and pay attention to what foods may be troublesome for your gut, you'll be amazed how much more variety you will eat. Enjoy the recipes below!


Broccoli Cauliflower "Meatballs" by Where is My Spoon. This is a great recipe that I would modify by using frozen cauliflower rice and frozen broccoli florets. The recipe calls for two eggs but I would use an egg-replacer to make this vegan. However, you may want to use the eggs.

When the "meatballs" are done, serve them on pasta. But be careful of eating too much white pasta. It turns into sugar in the body which is very inflammatory for the gut. Try a pasta made from chickpeas or lentils instead. Click here for the recipe.

broccoli cauliflower meatballs for a meatless Monday recipe

Low Carb Chicken Zucchini Enchiladas from Primavera Kitchen. This is a recipe that can be made over the weekend and then simply heated up for dinner. It calls for mozzarella cheese which you could substitute non-dairy cheese if dairy is an issue for your stomach. I've done that and my husband cannot tell the difference!

You can also make it as is and serve it with a mixed green salad on the side. If you don't have the patience to roll the chicken in the zucchini, this recipe tastes just as delicious by mixing all of the ingredients with chopped zucchini. Click here for the recipe.

chicken zucchini enchiladas on a plate

One Pot Pork Chops and Peppers from First Home Love Life. This recipe is one that I would cook during the week because it is ready in 30 minutes. It uses frozen sliced peppers. Have fresh peppers on hand? Simply slice them on the weekend and store them in a container in the fridge until you are ready to cook with them. To increase the vegetable content, I would also add green beans. Click here for the recipe.

pork chop in a tomato sauce slow cooked and juicy for dinner

Chicken and Mushrooms with Garlic Butter from Sweet CS Designs. This recipe uses flavorful chicken thighs, immune supporter garlic and is made in one pot! Sweet CS also notes modifications depending on your dietary needs. For example, the butter can be swapped out for avocado oil. Also, you can use green beans instead of mushrooms in case you are following the FODMAP diet. Click here for the recipe.

chicken and mushrooms in garlic butter can cause some IBS like symptoms so watch how you feel after eating

Tilapia Vegetable Casserole by Natasha's Kitchen. I thought this was an interesting way to use frozen fish. Frozen fish is usually less expensive than fresh but I find the flavor may not be there. However, it works well in recipes like fish tacos where a lot of seasoning will be used anyway.

When I make this one, I'll probably add frozen chopped spinach to the vegetable mixture to add a little more veg-power to the dish. One thing to note, onions may be troublesome for the gut. Replace them with green beans, carrots or corn. Click here for the recipe.

Tilapia vegetable casserole can use green beans instead of onions if they bother your stomach

Low FODMAP Veggie Burger by Gluten Free Stories. This veggie burger combines healthy, low FODMAP ingredients. Who doesn't love burgers? This recipe may inspire the rest of your family to have one or two vegetarian meals per week. Click here for the recipe.

veggie burgers are easy to make and filling

I hope you are inspired by the above recipes to combine the canned or frozen vegetables in the house with fresh. Eating foods that support a healthy gut will help you overcome so many negative health annoyances and keep you from getting sick. 70% of our immune system is in our gut. The more we can keep the gut healthy, the more likely we won't get illness and disease.

Do you think you will try any of the above? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.

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