When There’s no Food in the House…Make Tortillas!

The other day, lunchtime was approaching and I had no food in the house.  Look at my sad, nearly-empty refrigerator!   It was Friday and I was determined to make it to my usual Saturday shopping trip to buy groceries again.  I’ve been trying hard to stick to a strict grocery budget and those in-between shopping trips always get me.

A quick look in the pantry showed that I had two cans of re-fried black beans.  Well, that was something.  Too bad I didn’t have any tortillas to make burritos.  Wait…I had flour…I could make tortillas!  Okay…but we had no fruit.  What could we eat with our beans and tortillas?  Oh, look, one tiny zucchini in the crisper drawer!  I could chop that finely and add it to the beans, along with an onion, for more flavor and nutrition.  Oh, and two tomatoes in my hanging basket!  Those would complement the burritos perfectly, and add vitamin C and a fresh taste to our meal.  Guess I had food in the house after all!

Often I find that “no food in the house” really means that I have no fast, easy food.  No bread or tortillas.  No fresh fruit to grab and eat.  No prepared hummus or Tofurky slices.  No leftovers from the night before.  But I usually stock a lot of bulk staples, that, with a little bit of work, can be turned into lots and lots of great food.  My refrigerator may have been almost bare, but I always have plenty of dried beans and whole grains in my pantry.

Here’s a great tortilla recipe you can make with only a few bulk staples.  Tortillas can be used in so many ways, and freshly made they are delicious to eat on their own, too!


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
  • 1 cup lukewarm water


Whisk flours and salt in a large mixing bowl.  With a pastry cutter, cut in the Earth Balance margarine.  Add warm water and mix with a fork until it forms a ball.  Knead for a minute or two until well mixed.  Shape into a ball, cover with a clean towel, and let rest for 30 minutes.

Divide into 8 equal balls.  Preheat skillet to medium-high heat.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a thin tortilla.  (Keep other balls covered as you are rolling).  Preheat a heavy frying pan, such as a cast-iron skillet, to medium-high heat.  Place each tortilla in the pan.  Almost immediately, blisters should appear.  Use a spatula to gently press all over the top.  Turn and cook to brown the other side.  Yields 8 large tortillas.

Don’t overcook these, or they will become hard and crisp!  You want them to be nice and soft and pliable.  As you finish cooking the tortillas, wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft.  It takes a little bit of trial and error to figure this out, but I usually roll the next tortilla right after I’ve placed one on the griddle, and as soon as I’ve rolled it out, it’s nearly time to flip the first one.

These make nice large tortillas that are perfect for burritos or any other kind of wrap.  They are also irresistible on their own!  If you have any leftovers, wrap them tightly in foil and store in the refrigerator.  I also recommend filling leftover tortillas with beans, tucking in both ends and rolling to make closed burritos, and freezing them for a quick and healthy lunch.

What do you do when you have no food in the house?

9 comments Add yours
  1. I can’t get past how clean your fridge is!

    Even when my fridge is devoid of anything that could be put together into a “meal” it’s still crammed full with sticky molasses bottles, jams with pretty names that on one in my house actually wants on their toast, and jars with one olive.

    I have so much to learn.

  2. As a vegetarian who doesn’t live at home, it seems like my mother sometimes struggles to know what to keep on hand, other than yogurt and lettuce, but she’s really been making an effort to ‘stock up’ for when I come home to visit. Last weekend, a friend and I ended up at her house, so I decided to make vegetarian quesadillas (for which she normally has all the ingredients). We spent at least half an hour cleaning, chopping, sauteing all the vegetables, only to discover… there were no tortillas in the house! Luckily, I recalled seeing this post; I cut the recipe to make only as many as we needed, and the day was saved… they turned out *delicious*, by the way!

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and strategies over “nothing in the fridge to eat”. Thanks also for sharing the vegan tortilla recipe. I can’t wait to try it.

  4. I just about died laughing at your fridge pic — it looks waaaaaay too familiar! This is a great post, and I am just loving your blog.

    My son is allergic to dairy and eggs, so we do a lot of vegan cooking, and I am still shocked (annoyed?) by how intolerant and ignorant some people are. I have tried a lot of new foods because of my son’s allergies and learned a lot of cooking science in a hurry, but it has been interesting! Thanks for spreading the word! We can’t wait to try your pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

    1. Ha! That happens way too often in our house with three growing boys! I can’t believe how much food they put away.

      Glad you are enjoying the blog, and I hope you like the pumpkin pie!!

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