Most of us thought we were overreacting by “prepping” with extra pantry goods when talk of the coronavirus pandemic started to crop up. Well, two years later, here we are. Despite grocery stores remaining open, even if you braved the supermarket, the pickings were slim. Many of us learned a new way of cooking and eating, getting resourceful by making meals with whatever we had lying around. And though grocery stores are mostly back to normal these days, I for one am a bit more committed to cooking with what I’ve got, any time of year. It’s a more affordable, sustainable, and sometimes even more creative way of eating. Enter: pantry recipes.
Pantry staples can mean different things to different people. When it comes to stocking up for a long haul period of staying indoors, my personal strategy is to buy 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 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 always in need):
- 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, it’s time to talk about what we can do with them! (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!
Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup
Why We Love It: 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 jalapeño 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.
Hero Ingredient: A good squeeze of lime goes a long way.
Get the recipe for Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup.
Sunday Night Avocado Toast
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: The 8-minute egg is absolute perfection.
Get the recipe for Sunday Night Avocado Toast.
Vegetarian Black Bean Enchiladas from Love & Lemons
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: Adobo sauce gives these enchiladas a distinctly smoky flavor that just can’t be beat.
Get the recipe for Vegetarian Black Bean Enchiladas.
Easiest Tomato Basil Penne With Spicy Italian Chickpeas from Half-Baked Harvest
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: Smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, and onion powder unite to make those chickpeas all kinds of good.
Get the recipe for Easiest Tomato Basil Penne With Spicy Italian Chickpeas.
Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Why We Love It: 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. 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.
Hero Ingredient: Feel free to sub carrot or butternut squash for the sweet potatoes, and pinto beans could stand-in for black.
Get the recipe for Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili.
Roasted Cauliflower Tacos With Cilantro Pesto
Why We Love It: 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’.
Hero Ingredient: Pickled red onion brings a sharp kick to the party that gives you a taste of freshness in each bite.
Get the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Tacos With Cilantro Pesto.
Root Vegetable & Quinoa Salad With Tahini-Maple Vinaigrette
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: No tahini? Use almond butter. It’s a really satisfying vegetarian salad that is hearty enough to be dinner.
Get the recipe for Root Vegetable & Quinoa Salad With Tahini-Maple Vinaigrette.
Pasta with Brown Butter, Whole Lemon, and Parmesan from Bon Appétit
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: Using whole lemon slices allows you to utilize all that the citrus has to offer. It’s bitter, tart, and just perfect for balancing all the rich flavors of this pasta.
Get the recipe for Pasta with Brown Butter, Whole Lemon, and Parmesan.
Pita Tostadas With Butternut Squash, Black Beans, and Avocado
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: Lime-y greek yogurt drizzled over top is a must-have.
Get the recipe for Pita Tostadas With Butternut Squash, Black Beans, and Avocado.
30-Minute Tempeh & Vegetable Stir-Fry from Minimalist Baker
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: Anti-inflammatory ginger brings it’s sharp bite to each delicious forkful.
Get the recipe for 30-Minute Tempeh & Vegetable Stir-Fry.
Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup
Why We Love It: 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?
Hero Ingredient: I definitely recommend topping your bowl with coconut—it’s a game changer.
Get the recipe for Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup.
Easiest Ever Black Bean Soup
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: 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.
Get the recipe for Easiest Ever Black Bean Soup.
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: You may not have pomegranate laying around but if you do, you’re in for a treat. The fruity burst of flavor really makes these potatoes.
Get the recipe for Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.
Superfood Oatmeal Bowl from Fit Foodie Finds
Why We Love It: 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.
Hero Ingredient: While your toppings are totally up to you, berries add a burst of sweetness (and antioxidants!) that’ll make for a delicious bowl.
Get the recipe for Superfood Oatmeal Bowl.
The Best Shakshuka
Why We Love It: 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—and it turned out just as good as the original. I like to scoop this up with toasted pita or baguette slices.
Hero Ingredient: Poached eggs are obviously the focus here. They’re perfectly runny so you’ll have lots of golden yolk to spread across your bread.
Get the recipe for The Best Shakshuka.
Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
Why We Love It: Plant-based and hearty, this chickpea salad is great for lunch or dinner any day of the week. Pro tip: make a big batch at the beginning of the week and remember to thank yourself later.
Hero Ingredient: A little honey or agave is so good here.
Get the recipe for Chickpea Salad Sandwiches.
Tuna Niçoise Toast With Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Pesto
Why We Love It: It’s no secret that we’re big fans of toast here at Camille Styles. I mean, what’s better than your favorite foods on a thick slice of toasted bread? In this case, tuna niçoise salad gets an upgrade with toasty sourdough. Yum.
Hero Ingredient: Slow-roasted tomatoes bring in all the garlickly goodness.
Get the recipe for Tuna Niçoise Toast with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Pesto.
Creamy Polenta Bowls with Garlic and Mascarpone
Why We Love It: If you’re in the mood for something warm and comforting, this polenta bowl is for you. It’s creamy, rich, satisfying and (best of all) easy! The veggies are timed perfectly so everything is ready once the polenta is finished. Dinner made easy.
Hero Ingredient: When is caramelized garlic ever a bad idea?
Get the recipe for Creamy Polenta Bowls with Garlic and Mascarpone.
Creamy Vegan Pasta With Tomatoes and Basil
Why We Love It: This no-cream-but-so-creamy pasta is an absolute home run recipe. It’s perfectly light and indulgent, so you can enjoy a healthy serving without feeling weighed-down afterward. Plus, those tender burst tomatoes are impossible to beat.
Hero Ingredient: A good dose of lemon zest and red pepper flakes really take things to the next level.
Get the recipe for Creamy Vegan Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil.
3-Ingredient Creamy Tomato Shells from Pinch of Yum
Why We Love It: More is less in the case of this pasta, which only has three main ingredients! Still, it’s super rich and velvety and definitely making my mouth water as I write this.
Hero Ingredient: Buttery cashews get blended with water, garlic, and salt to create a cashew cream that makes this pasta great.
Get the recipe for 3-Ingredient Creamy Tomato Shells.
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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Amazing! I tried getting black beans, and they were all sold out… So, I am going to make with kidney beans and cannelini instead. Can’t wait.
Oh, and last night I made the red lentil curry with frozen cauli instead of kale and carrot, since that’s what was available at the store. SO GOOD.
Love that smart subbing, Anne! Let us know how the kidney bean + cannelini combo turns out… sounds delish.
A very useful and informative post! So many inspiring points to take away from this ?
Here in Columbus, Ohio I have to give nothing but shout-outs and gratitude to our hard-working groceries and markets for the incredible job they are doing restocking. Cant think of anything I couldn’t get or substitute that I needed. Kudos to all those thinking of others.
I find corn tortillas last almost indefinitely in the refrigerator. It would be a shame if someone pitched them after only two weeks! Just keep the plastic bag they come zipped tightly and they will be good to go for a very long time. Easy to pull out for quesadillas, tostadas, etc.