Pantry Math by the Frugal Hostess

This is a guest post from The Frugal Hostess. After you read it, click the link at the end to go to her blog and subscribe to it.

The Frugal Hostess was never a big fan of doing math. The memorization and detail really got her down. The boringness, the lack of drama, and the repetition kept her down. Down with math, man.

So it’s interesting how often TFH finds herself doing equations in her everyday life. Is she the only person for whom this is true? Why is she forever in search of n?

Today, The Frugal Hostess offers an abbreviated list of equations you can do to avoid being caught by surprise by a food occasion. Thankfully, FruHo has done the work of finding n for you.

First, you must fill your pantry with these long-lasting supplies. By themselves, they’ll combine to make something decent to eat, and, with the addition of one or two fresh ingredients, you’ll have a feast. (You could make a checklist of these staples to review as you make your grocery list, so you’re sure to have them.)

  • Capers
  • Dijon mustard
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned or frozen corn kernels
  • Olives
  • Anchovies
  • Jar of roasted peppers
  • Cans of beans (black, navy, and garbanzo)
  • Frozen spinach

Pantry food equations:


  1. Capers + olive oil + parmesan cheese + S&P = good (if boring) flavors for pasta. Add anchovies or olives or tomatoes or spinach or roasted peppers (or any combination thereof) for something a little more exciting.Add fresh shrimp or chicken or tofu and onions or garlic when you have it. Voilà ”“ at least ten options for a pasta dinner.
  2. Beans + rice + roasted peppers + Tabasco = perfect meatless Monday meal.Add canned corn, tomatoes, and olives for a bit more flavor.Add chopped fresh onions and tomatoes on top; or put into a tortilla; or shred in some leftover chicken; or add some stock to make soup.Presto ”“ at least eight versions of beans and rice.

Hors d’ Oeuvre

Olives + bowl = item 1

Parmesan cheese + slicer = item 2 (add bread, crackers, or ham/prosciutto slices if you have them)

Toothpick + anchovy + roasted pepper + caper = item 3

Canned corn + can of black beans + half can tomatoes (all drained) + Tabasco + roasted red peppers = item 4, salsa (add chips).

Salad Dressing

Olive oil + vinegar + Dijon mustard + salt & pepper

Add finely minced garlic or shallot; or fresh or dried herbs; or egg yolk to replace mustard; or honey and Tabasco

Side dishes

Spinach + roasted red peppers

Canned corn + parmesan cheese

Canned tomatoes + capers

And behold ”“ a minimum of seven more things to eat, plus several ways to dress a salad. The Frugal Hostess does not ever want to hear you freak out about math again.

The Frugal Hostess is the figurehead of a lifestyle brand for poor people. She writes about inexpensive entertaining and other things that are cheap but not easy on her irreverent food blog at