I often watched my parents prepare dinner when I was growing up, and one of the main lessons I learned from them was the importance of being resourceful. Pretty much anyone can pick a recipe and go out to the store to buy the necessary ingredients, but making do with what you have at home requires a pinch of creativity and flexibility. Swinging by the store for a couple of items can be tempting, but I find that when I do that, I often end up either buying things I don’t really need (just because I’m there and I’m hungry) or neglecting the things in my fridge that I need to use up. Neither of these outcomes is very cost-efficient, so I have a few go-to meals that don’t require planning ahead and that I can make even when I haven’t gone to the store recently. These meals are based on ingredients with a relatively long shelf life, which I’m likely to have on hand at any given time. I started making this easy one-pot jambalaya a few months ago, and it has quickly become one of my favorite “minimal planning” recipes!
Those of you who are familiar with Creole and Cajun cooking know that jambalaya and many other dishes start with the “holy trinity,” a combination of onion, celery, and green pepper. For this recipe, however, I decided to swap out the green pepper and use carrot instead. I almost always have carrots in the fridge and they stay fresh for quite a long time, whereas I find that bell peppers often turn wrinkly and soft after a few days. Like carrots, onions and celery are also fridge regulars in my house, and thankfully they too last for a fair amount of time.
This jambalaya may not be the most traditional recipe you’ll come across, but it is extremely flavorful and satisfying—and if your stomach wasn’t already growling when you started cooking, just wait until you smell the irresistible savory aroma as it simmers! The rice cooks in a blend of chicken broth and canned tomatoes, seasoned with a medley of dried herbs and spices, all of which ensures that each bite is packed with tons of oomph. Even beyond its flavor profile, this recipe has a lot going for it: it can be a meal in and of itself (starch, protein, and veggies: check, check, and check!), it only takes one pot (who doesn’t love having fewer dishes to wash?!), and it’s even naturally dairy and gluten free!
So the next time you’re rummaging through the fridge in an attempt to scrounge up a balanced dinner, just whip up a batch of easy one-pot jambalaya—both your taste buds and your wallet will be glad that you did!
I’m sharing the recipe for this jambalaya on Crafty Coin, a wonderfully helpful blog dedicated to all things frugal, so head on over to BreAnna’s site to get the details. And if you’re interested in more “minimal planning” recipes, here are a couple of my other favorites:
Left: Sweet potato enchilada bowls
Right: Lighter Swedish meatballs
I’m also sharing this post at the following link parties: Recipe of the Week, The Wednesday Showcase, Foodie FriDIY, and Fiesta Friday.
Heather @ Sweet Precision says
Looks delicious Mara! I agree that being resourceful in the kitchen is a must. Matt hates wasting food so we’re always coming up with ways to re-purpose ingredients!
Thanks, Heather! And yes, wasting food feels terrible – I’m sure there are apps designed to help prevent that by now, but I haven’t yet looked into it. I’m pretty old school, I suppose!
Thank you for this recipe! At the end of my “grocery week” I like to have a meal or two that I can turn to, before I go to the store and stock up again. This looks perfect!
I can’t decide which is harder to figure out – meals at the end of “grocery week” or outfits at the end of “laundry week”…I struggle with both sometimes! I hope this can help you out with the former at least 🙂
Maggie Jones says
This is one of our favorite pantry meals. I always make a huge batch since we love the leftovers for work lunches. You’ve reminded me it’s been way too long since we’ve made this.
You’re one step ahead of me! I only started making this a few months ago. I should definitely start making bigger batches now that I’m back to school and back to packing lunches. Sounds like jambalaya is in both of our near futures!
MMMmmm, I love cajun food! This looks like some killer jambalaya too, yum!
Thanks, Tori! It was an instant hit in my household 🙂
I’m a total sucker for any and all Cajun and Creole food! I love jambalaya, and I agree that it’s the perfect low-planning type of meal. Carrots in there, huh? Sounds like an interesting twist! I bet the sweetness from the carrots was actually quite tasty in this one. I’ll have to remember that next time I make a batch for us! 🙂
I would expect nothing less from a former Louisianan! But yes, I know…it’s probably blasphemous that I’m departing from the “holy trinity,” right? 😉
Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh says
This looks so tasty! I am a sucker for one pan meals, and try to create them every night that I can. After all, who wants to spend all that time cleaning the kitchen?! I love your take with the addition of the carrots! Thanks for sharing with us at The Wednesday Showcase!
One-pot meals are such lifesavers! I hope you get a chance to try this sometime. Thanks for hosting such a fun link party!
Debbie Spivey says
Mara, thanks for sharing this recipe. I only realized last year that I love Cajun and creole food. I’ll have to try this recipe. Yum!
I haven’t had the chance to try many Cajun or Creole dishes, but it’s on my (food) bucket list! Do you have any recipe recommendations? Let me know what you think if try this!
Debbie Spivey says
I’m sorry I don’t really have any, that’s why I was so excited to see this. Will definitely have to try this out and let you know!
Valerie Vanderheiden-Rath says
YUM! I haven’t had jambalaya in a long time! Now I am inspired to make some.
I’m glad this caught your eye! Let me know what you think if you try this 🙂
Jenna Owens (@aSavoryFeast) says
It’s been too long since I had jambalaya! I love how easy this recipe is. I can’t wait to give it a try.
Thanks, Jenna! I hope you love it as much as we do 🙂
Welcome to Fiesta Friday #137. There’s nothing quite like one-pot meals and this Jambalaya certainly ticks all the boxes for me. Just in time for the cooler weather too, thanks for sharing the recipe. Enjoy your weekend.
I started making this in the spring, but I agree – it’s a great dish for fall! Thanks for stopping by and for hosting this week, Loretta!
This is my kind of meal! Perfect for weeknights and those days when you just need to pull something together at the last minute with what’s laying around!
Definitely! It’s good to know I can (almost) always count on jambalaya when groceries and/or inspiration are running low. Thanks for stopping by!
Arl's World says
Thank you! I’m glad this caught your eye.
Looks delicious! I really need to make jambalaya one of these days-I love it but have never made my own!
Thanks! I’m the other way around – I make and eat jambalaya at home but rarely elsewhere. I hope you get a chance to try this!
Frugal Millennial says
Looks amazing! I need to try it!
I’m glad this caught your eye! Let me know what you think if you make it 🙂
Julie is Hostess At Heart says
I love Jambalaya and am guilty of just going to the store when I have a freezer full of ingredients! I’m a little bit better in the winter though.
Haha yes, winter weather definitely lessens my desire to run out to the store for just a few items!
This is my kind of dish – colourful, simple and full of flavour (as I am sure it is)!
I’m glad to hear it! Let me know what you think if you make it 🙂
This looks great and I love to make dishes from what you have at home and this looks like a delicious meal 🙂
Thanks, Petra! Sometimes it’s tough to make do with what’s on hand, but on the flip side, it’s a fun challenge 🙂