Sometimes everything we need for a meal is right in our pantry. Here are 5 easy meal ideas inspired by pantry staples that you might already have in your cupboard.
Note that we use a lot of canned food in these recipes. While canned items can be packed with good nutrition, they can also be packed with sodium. Try to drain and rinse your canned items (within reason) to lower some of the saltiness before adding them to these meals.
1. Vegetarian shepherd’s pie
Shepherd’s pie usually consists of a mix of vegetables and meat topped with mashed potatoes or a pie crust. This recipe can easily be made vegetarian and adapted for the pantry by:
- Mixing canned peas and carrots with your favorite legumes (lentils, red kidney beans, white beans—your choice!). Add this mixture to the bottom of a casserole dish.
- Top the mixture with mashed potatoes. If you’ve got potatoes in storage you can whip them up fresh, but instant mashed potatoes work here too.
Cover the casserole dish and bake until ready. Enjoy!
2. Ramen with canned veggies
Ramen is a pantry staple and loved by people of all ages. Adapt our “Ramen with Veggies” recipe by using whatever canned vegetables you have instead of frozen. The egg topping is a bonus!
3. Easy vegetable soup
You can get creative with this one. Start with adding a broth of your choice to a large pot on the stove. Then, open up a handful of cans, drain and rinse them, and pour them into the broth for quick and easy soup. Try adding items like:
- Canned beans: In addition to the beans listed above, try chickpeas, black beans, lima beans, and more.
- Canned veggies: A few ideas include corn, carrots, green beans, potatoes, or diced tomatoes. Add whatever you’ve got!
- Noodles: Short, long, or shaped noodles could add some texture to the soup.
- Spices and herbs: Add great flavors with spices and herbs like garlic or onion powder, dried basil, paprika, and dried parsley, to name a few.
Simmer it all together and you’ve got yourself a warm dinner solely from your pantry.
4. Boxed mac and cheese with diced tomatoes
Take a childhood favorite, boxed mac and cheese, and make it as usual. This might require some refrigerated items, but you can always skip what you don’t have or substitute it, like using water instead of milk. Next, drain a can of diced tomatoes and stir them into the cheesy mixture. Ta da! Now you’ve got a simple and quick meal.
5. Canned peach pancakes
We didn’t forget about breakfast! This recipe is for anyone lucky enough to be stocked with a pancake mix. Make the pancakes as normal (again, skip or substitute refrigerated items if needed). When the pancakes are cooked and plated, top them with canned sliced peaches for a serving of fruit and some added sweetness. You can also dice the peaches and mix them in with the pancake batter for bite-sized peach surprises while you eat.
Written by Taylor Newman, Ph.D. Candidate | Edited by Laurel Sanville, MS, RDN, LD