Pantry Meals


Last week I inventoried my pantry. While I was typing up my list, I realized that another good thing to have hanging in my pantry is a list of some really easy meals I can throw together using primarily (or only) pantry items. This list is by no means comprehensive, but they are varied enough that I can also use them as a prompt for other dishes. Under each dish or meal, I’ve listed the pantry components that are used in the recipe. I’ve also included a second bullet that contains the non-pantry items needed to complete the recipe. For the most part these are also items I always have on hand OR may have in a storage form (dried onions can be subbed for onions, for example, or I could use dried milk instead of liquid milk), so unless it was a serious emergency it is entirely likely that I could make any one of these meals at almost any time. This list doesn’t include any freezer items, which would obviously expand my options. Do you have go-to pantry meals?


Red lentil and pumpkin soup

  • Red lentils, can of pumpkin, bouillon or broth
  • Onion, garlic, curry powder

Baked oatmeal

  • Pumpkin, oats, brown sugar
  • Milk*, spices, fruit, egg

Simple red sauce (for pasta or other dishes)

  • Canned tomatoes, olive oil
  • Garlic

Enchilada casserole

  • Black beans, salsa, canned corn
  • Corn tortillas, onion, cheese

Capellini Pomodoro

  • Angel hair pasta, petite diced tomatoes, olive oil
  • Basil, garlic

Three bean chili

  • Pintos, black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, rotel
  • Spices, onion, green pepper

Beans & Rice (variety)

  • Dry or canned beans, rice, bouillon
  • Onion


  • Broken pasta, tomato sauce, oil
  • Spices, cojita/queso

Corn chowder

  • Canned corn, evaporated milk, bouillon, flour, oil
  • Onion

Tuna noodle casserole

  • Canned tuna, egg noodles, bread crumbs
  • Frozen peas, carrots, onion, milk, cheese

Tuna patties

  • Canned tuna, mayonnaise, bread crumbs
  • Spices, egg

Bean burgers

  • Canned or dry beans, bread crumbs or oats
  • Egg, spices

Fried rice

  • Rice, oil
  • Soy sauce, egg, onion, seasoning

Quinoa Salad

  • Black beans, corn, quinoa, olive oil
  • Onion, cilantro

Lentil salad

  • Lentils, olive oil, balsamic vinegar
  • Peppers, carrots, onion

Bean & Barley Stew

  • Kidney beans, barley, bouillon
  • Onion

Tomato Peanut Soup

  • Tomatoes, peanut butter, black beans
  • onion

Tomato Soup

  • tomatoes, oil, flour
  • milk, onion

Sesame/Peanut Noodles

  • spaghetti or angel hair, peanut butter, sesame seeds, hot sauce
  • sesame oil, soy sauce



11 thoughts on “Pantry Meals

  1. Difference between a foodie and a plain housewife: my tomato soup list would have 2 items at the most: can of tomato soup, milk. LOL.

    That’s a great idea to make a list of pantry meals and I might have to steal some of your dishes as I try to piece a menu for the upcoming week 🙂

    My to-go “pantry” meals off the top of my head are canned soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna patties and rice, pasta and meatballs (frozen meatballs), black eyed peas soup/stew in crockpot, Southwestern chicken stew in crockpot, Spicy Black Bean Soup… Usually I can put together a whole week of dinner menus with what I have on hand (by making substitutions in recipes if needed) but I always need to go shopping for milk, eggs, produce, lunchmeat and bread. I also don’t have a problem trying to incorporate new recipes every week as I constantly clip recipes from websites or magazines or, if I’m too lazy to get up from the couch to go look up a recipe in one of my cookbooks, I just google recipes until I find one that sounds good to me (or I go back to one of yours!).

    Anyhoo, you reminded me that if I do one chore today, it’s going to have to be “plan the menu for the week”. I tend to forget to do that on Sunday afternoons 🙂 Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I totally forgot to put black bean soup on my list, and that’s a favorite of ours! If I had included freezer items, I definitely would have some additional staples on the list like salsa chicken stew and beef chili and so on. In fact, when I finish my freezer inventory I also want to create a list of simple go to meals that incorporate those items, too.

      I’m looking forward to reading your menu tomorrow!

  2. I love the idea of a list of pantry meals. I kind of keep one in my head, but I’ve never committed one to paper. I’m going to borrow the idea and add it to my “I need to do” list.

    1. My list has always been in my head, too, but I realized that keeping it there was getting in my way of actually making these recipes!

  3. Excellent list of pantry meals! I’m like Nathalie – if I want tomato soup, I’ll open a can! LOL. My go-to pantry meals will have to be rice with lentil curry, or with curried garbanzo beans, or with canned mackerel curry. The lentil curry and mackerel curry require milk, but I almost always have a can of coconut milk in the pantry. There’s usually a packet of lentil wafers (pappadum) and a jar of chutney, too, to round off the meal, along with canned fruit for dessert.

    1. Those all sound pretty yummy! I usually have coconut milk in my pantry, too, but used it up last month and haven’t replaced it yet. I need to remember to do that — it opens up what I can make considerably.

  4. The kitchen inventory thing really does get the gears spinning. I am like you and have been making a meal plan using up my pantry items. Mine is a little less specific than yours but a plan nonetheless. Unfortunately I will do very little with the plan until I complete the Whole 30 program.
    I am both looking forward to the freezer inventory and not looking forward to it at the same time!

    1. I don’t know how much I will directly cook from this list, right away. But I wanted to write this up because after doing the inventory and then looking ahead to the freezer inventory, I can tell that a second pantry challenge would not be amiss. And what I noticed last month is that I would buy fresh food sometimes not so much because I needed it but because I couldn’t really think of anything to make. Which is patently ridiculous after taking inventory.

      And, haha, I feel kind of the same about the freezer!

  5. I feel like a savage posting this but I like dried onions from the dollar store. Reconstituted with hot water it’s a real time saver. I use chopped onions in everything. Also I keep cans of great northern beans and a small can of ham for a quick soup. Sodium off the chart but quick.

    1. Not a savage! I keep dried onions on hand, too. I do prefer fresh onions, but the dried onions are nice for crock pot dishes, especially, or long cooking recipes like soup/stew.

      I make a white bean soup with just rosemary, garlic and white beans. It’s really yummy! Good idea to add ham.

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