Go overboard grocery shopping at onset of pandemic? What you can do with items still sitting in your pantry

Living Well
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INDIANAPOLIS — Many Americans experienced “pandemic shopping” during March and April of 2020 shortly after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

If you have still have some of those items sitting in your pantry a year later, dietitian Kim Galeaz has some creative ways to use them.

Fiesta Beef Filling

Fiesta Beef Filling, courtesy of Kim Galeaz


  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef (90% lean, 10% fat) (or sub ground turkey, chicken, pork, chorizo, soy crumbles or whatever protein you have or like!)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (or 1 bag frozen onions)
  • 2 very large garlic cloves, very finely minced (or onion powder)
  • 1 can (15. 25 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.) sweet corn kernels, drained
  • 1 can (7 oz.) diced green chili peppers, drained (or two 4 oz. cans)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons cumin (depends on how much you like cumin)
  • 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (depending on your preferred heat level)
  • 4-6 drops hot pepper sauce (your preference)
  • Optional “use it up” add-ins: Rice, Pasta shapes, Box of Mac ‘n Cheese


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef, onions and garlic until beef is browned and onions soft.
  2. Add beans, diced tomatoes, corn, green chilies, cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper and hot pepper sauce. Cook until everything is thoroughly hot.
  3. Add in cooked rice, pasta or boxed mac ‘n cheese if you want to use that up.
  4. Serve in taco shells, corn or flour tortilla shells, or with corn tortilla chips as nachos. Refrigerate leftovers in tightly covered container and use within 3 to 4 days. Makes at least 7 cups Fiesta Filling.

Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce, courtesy of Kim Galeaz


  • 1 bottle (17-18 oz.) favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1 can (14 – 15 ½ oz.) favorite canned fruit (peaches, pears, cherries, mango, anything)*


  1. Pour BBQ sauce in blender.
  2. *Drain fruit but RESERVE liquid. Add drained fruit to blender and process.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon (at least) reserved juice/liquid to BBQ bottle, shake well and pour remaining sauce in blender.
  4. Process until smooth. Enjoy with any barbecued meat, seafood, poultry or burgers. Makes about 2 ¾ cups sauce.

Kim’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Bread Flour substitution)

Chocolate Chip Cookies, courtesy of Kim Galeaz
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup very firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups bread flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • At least 2 cups chocolate chips (Kim uses about 2 ¾ cups)
  • At least 1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts


  1. Heat oven to 375⁰F.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer with paddle, beat butter and both sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix just until incorporated.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together.
  4. Beat in flour mixture gradually. Stir in chips and nuts just until incorporated. Avoid over-mixing cookie batter.
  5. Using a #40 scoop (1 ½ tablespoon size completely leveled), drop cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets.
  6. Bake 9 ½ to 11 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown. Tops may look slightly undone, but will firm up as they cool. Cool cookies on cookie sheet one minute, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store cookies in freezer zippered bags or tightly covered container. Can be frozen. Makes about 48 cookies.

*Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, so these cookies will be chewier but still have a crisp edge. If you use all-purpose flour, they will spread more when cooked. Same great taste! 

All recipes are courtesy of culinary dietitian and nutritionist Kim Galeaz. The cookie recipe is created with inspiration from Toll House Cookie recipe.

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