Most of us thought we were overreacting by “prepping” with extra pantry goods when talk of the coronavirus pandemic started early last year… and now, here we are. Despite grocery stores remaining open, even if you braved the market, the pickings were slim. Enter: Pantry recipes.
Now, that we’re still being advised to stay in our homes as much as possible, I’m making it a personal challenge to make as many meals as I can using the pantry staples I have on hand.
Pantry staples can mean different things to different people. My personal strategy has been to stock up on items that will stay good for at least two weeks—mostly healthy things (and a few treats) that we love and would buy anyway, just in larger supply. For me, that includes:
- boxed organic soups
- canned and dried beans of all kinds
- grains like quinoa, rice, and farro
- snacks like popcorn, granola bars, high fiber cereal, lots of nuts, and dried fruits
- jarred pasta sauce
- corn tortillas—I keep them in the fridge for max lifespan (they’ll be good for a couple of weeks)
Fruits and veggies with a long shelf life:
- root vegetables including sweet potatoes, butternut squash, potatoes, beets
- onions and garlic
- hearty greens like kale and brussels sprouts
- citrus fruits
- I also bought a few small potted herbs—basil, mint, and dill—for a couple of dollars each at the hardware store so I can sprinkle everything with fresh herbs and give it that extra zing.
Dairy with a long shelf life:
*did you know that most organic dairy on grocery shelves don’t expire for a month or more? Check the dates and stock up on what you need.
- organic milk
- shelf-stable almond milk that will stay good unopened for months
- tempeh and tofu in the fridge
- Beyond Burgers, beef burgers, salmon fillets, and organic chicken thighs in the freezer
- canned tuna and salmon packed in olive oil in the pantry
- lentils in the pantry
- mixed peppers
- *not produce, but I also keep a loaf of good seeded bread, so I’ve always got toast in a pinch.
Treats (’cause we’re gonna need some):
- fun popsicles and ice cream
- a batch of homemade cookie dough rolled into balls in the freezer
- some good dark chocolate that I will probably eat myself while submerged in the bathtub
Okay, now that I’ve laid the groundwork for the types of ingredients we’re talking about, what can we do with them in the coming weeks of quarantine? Turns out, a LOT. There is a ton of variety in the meals below, so scroll on, click through the pantry recipes, and let me know in the comments what you guys are cooking up with all your pantry staples this week!
Make double, and freeze the other half without the rice. It’s so easy to thaw, reheat, and serve over rice for an amazing dinner when your pantry goods start to dwindle. Feel free to omit the jalapeno or any other toppings if you don’t have them on hand—use what ya got! These are pantry recipes after all. And feel free to use frozen skinless boneless chicken breast or thighs here, too.
The beauty of this recipe is that I always have these ingredients on hand, and they always taste great together, Sunday night or any time. No avocado? Spread on a little mayo. Got some bacon? Throw it on. Boil extra eggs and you’ll use them on salads and sandwiches all week.
These make the most of all those aforementioned root vegetables, plus the cans of black beans you’ve no doubt got stocked. Jeanine has a bunch of other drool-worthy pantry recipe recos right over here.
The chickpeas are an unusual but delicious addition to this pasta and add all kinds of protein and fiber in a plant-based way. You probably don’t have burrata lying around… but feel free to add some mozzarella, a generous shower of parmesan, or a scoop of ricotta instead.
This is one of my oldies but goodie recipes—I’ve made it for so many sick friends and families who just had babies because it is comfort in a bowl, and it’s packed with veggies. Bonus points that it freezes and reheats beautifully. Feel free to sub carrot or butternut squash for the sweet potatoes, and pinto beans could stand-in for black. All the toppings are just a suggestion—you can also dollop on a scoop of sour cream or crunch up some tortilla chips and call it a day.
Cauliflower is clutch when it comes to pantry meals—it lasts forever in the fridge and you can rice it, throw it into stir-fries, roast it until sweet and caramelized, or use it in place of meat in this yum-o vegetarian tacos. No avocado? Mix some minced garlic and a squeeze of sriracha into plain yogurt or mayo and let the crema do the talkin’.
This is more of a formula than a recipe: you can sub any other root vegetable for the ones listed here, and if you don’t have quinoa, you can use rice or another grain. No tahini? Use almond butter. It’s a really satisfying vegetarian salad that is hearty enough to be dinner.
The name pretty much says it all. It may not be healthy, per se, but if you savor every bite and pair it with something green, it’ll be good for the soul.
One of my favorite slightly-weird yet incredibly delicious dinners; this one’s been a crowd-pleaser through the years. If you don’t have pita, you could use flatbread, pizza crust, cauli-crust, English muffin, or even a flour tortilla crisped up in the oven. These are times to get creative, people! Sub any winter squash or sweet potato for the butternut.
This recipe is on regular rotation around our house, and I love it especially for this moment because you can toss in whatever veggies you have on hand and use up any leftover grains. It’s so delicious, hearty, and will satisfy that restaurant craving you might be developing right about now.
This was our most popular recipe from the 2020 Cleanse menu because it’s that perfect combo of insanely delicious, incredibly healthy, and so easy. Plus it is the best leftovers. And it’s vegan and gluten-free. Are you sold yet?
When it comes to pantry recipes this one is the easiest. If you know how to chop onions and throw some cans of beans in a pot, you’ve pretty much got this recipe mastered. Feel free to shake up the toppings based on what you’ve got in the fridge. A dollop of plain yogurt, chopped tomatoes, just about any fresh herbs, onions—all good.
Let these be an inspiration—they can be stuffed with just about anything. My lunch today was a roasted sweet potato split open and stuffed with basil, massaged kale, avocado, and everything spice. Yum. Now those are pantry recipes we want to have on file.
Sometimes when I don’t feel like thinking about dinner but crave something heartwarming, a bowl of oatmeal hits the spot. This one has a savory or sweet option to suit your mood, plus a boost of fiber and healthy fat from the chia seeds. If you go the sweet route, any frozen berry works great here (and may turn your porridge a delightful shade of purple!)
The last time I made this, I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes on hand, so I substituted a 28 ounce can of chopped fire-roasted tomatoes. So easy it was almost ridiculous, and dare I say it turned out as good as the original? I like to scoop this up with toasted pita or baguette slices.
What are your favorite pantry recipes? Share the link with us below.
This post was originally published on March 17, 2020, and has since been updated.
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