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Author Interview: Meal Planning Pro Nick Evans

Ginger-Pineapple Fried Rice, Three Berry Parfait and Huevos Rancheros from Love Your Leftovers

Ginger-Pineapple Fried Rice, Three Berry Parfait and Huevos Rancheros from Love Your Leftovers

The superpower everyone wishes they had right now? The ability to turn meager pantry pickings into an impressive feast.

We can think of one such person who embodies that skill: Nick Evans, creator of the popular blog Macheesmo and author of Love Your Leftovers. His cookbook is packed full of savvy meal plans that offer a diversity of comforting dishes built around a weekly master recipe.

We reached out to Evans to check in on how his expert pantry know-how is serving him during these uncertain times. He tells us about how he’s adjusting to a limited pantry, and offers a few tips on how to create fantastic meals despite it.

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Let’s talk about food, what delicious things have you cooked this week?

Well, I made some delicious pressure cooker pulled pork that my family has been snacking on for lunches and dinners. Unfortunately, I recently ran out of flour and yeast so my baking goals are slipping while my family is staying home. For quick meals, I've been making a lot of fried rice dishes and stir-fries, using what we have in the pantry and fridge!

Are you maintaining your weekly Sunday meal planning routine? How has it changed with the recent stay at home orders?

Definitely. It has actually gotten MORE intense since we have been isolating at home. Planning each dinner has become very important since I can only go to the store once every week or two. Also, though, I've been adding in 1-2 slots per week to support local restaurants. Ironically, we've been getting takeout WAY more than normal during this time to try to support local businesses.

We’re hearing that many shoppers are finding it difficult to buy staples such as eggs, chicken, flour, bread and fresh veggies at their grocery stores. Could you give us a few ideas of meals we could make without these ingredients?

For baking, I love substituting chia seeds soaked in water for eggs. You can’t even tell. I made pancakes with it recently and my kids thought it was better than my normal pancakes! Chia seeds are pretty available at most grocery stores and are definitely not being hoarded. Flour has been tough for me to find, but I've been substituting gluten-free mixes when I can, which work okay in a baking pinch!

What advice would you give for people unsure about making swaps to ingredients when they don’t have everything listed in a recipe?

For non-baking recipes, I like to think about textures when I'm swapping ingredients. If I'm trying to replace a crunchy veggie, a tomato won't work, but maybe celery will. If you are trying to replace something creamy, find something similar in your fridge (sour cream = yogurt, for example).

Any tips for using up odds and ends of ingredients?

Keep a large bag in your freezer and toss in the odds and ends of veggies. When the bag is full add it to a pot with a few quarts of water and simmer for a few hours. Homemade veggie stock!

Are you a cookbook collector? Any favorite cookbooks?

Honestly, I've been trying to pare down my cookbook collection lately. The book I'm cooking from the most right now though is Coco Morante's Instant Pot Healthy Recipes and Michelle Lopez's new book, Weeknight Baking.

Easter is around the corner, and we’re all having to create new traditions as we plan to stay at home this year. Any ideas for celebrating the holiday?

Assuming I can find some flour before Easter, I'm going to be making a savory monkey bread with ham in it to replace a huge Easter ham. It'll still be a centerpiece and something special, but my family can snack on it all day and we won't be left with pounds of leftovers.

Nick Evans has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of kid wrangling, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo.

Nick Evans is a featured author on ckbk, home to the world's best cookbooks and recipes for all cooks and every appetite. Start exploring now ▸

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