Most of us thought we were overreacting by “preparing” with extra supplies when the talk of the coronavirus pandemic began earlier last year … and now we are here. Although the grocery stores stayed open, even if you brave the market, there was little choice. Enter: pantry recipes.
Now that we are still being advised to stay in our homes as much as possible, I make it a personal challenge to prepare as many meals as possible with the pantries 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 goodies) that we love and that we would buy anyway, only on a larger scale. For me this includes:
- Organic soups in boxes
- All types of canned and dried beans
- Grains like quinoa, rice, and farro
- Snacks like popcorn, granola bars, high fiber granola, lots of nuts and dried fruits
- Pasta sauce
- Corn tortillas – I keep them in the refrigerator for maximum life (they keep for a few weeks).
Long shelf life fruits and vegetables:
- 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 few dollars each at the hardware store so I can sprinkle everything with fresh herbs and give it that little extra.
Long shelf life dairy:
* Did you know that most organic dairy products on grocery shelves take a month or more to expire? Check the dates and fill in with what you need.
- Organic milk
- Storage stable almond milk that remains unopened for months
- Tempeh and tofu in the fridge
- Beyond burgers, beef burgers, salmon fillets and organic chicken legs in the freezer
- Canned tuna and salmon wrapped in olive oil in the pantry
- Lentils in the pantry
- mixed peppers
- * don’t produce, but I also have a loaf of good seed bread so I always have toast in a pinch.
Treats (because we’ll need some):
- funny popsicle and ice cream
- A batch of homemade cookie dough rolled into balls in the freezer
- a good dark chocolate that I’ll likely eat myself while soaking in the tub
Okay, now that I’ve laid the foundations for the types of ingredients we’re talking about, what can we do with them in the coming weeks of quarantine? It turns out a lot. There’s a ton of variety in the meals below, so keep scrolling, clicking through the pantry recipes, and let me know in the comments about what you’re cooking with all of your pantry staples this week!
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Mexican chicken and rice soup
Make double and freeze the other half without the rice. It’s so easy to thaw, reheat, and serve over rice for a fantastic dinner when your supplies run out. You can leave out the jalapeno or other toppings if you don’t have them on hand – use what you have! Those are pantry recipes. And you can use frozen skinless chicken breasts or boneless thighs here too.
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Sunday night avocado toast
The nice thing about this recipe is that I always have these ingredients on hand and they always taste good together, Sunday evening or anytime. No avocado? Spread over a little mayo. Do you have bacon Throw it on. Boil extra eggs and you will be using them in salads and sandwiches throughout the week.
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Vegetarian enchiladas with black beans, from Love & Lemons
These make the most of all of the root vegetables mentioned above and the black bean cans that you no doubt have in store. Jeanine has a few other droolable pantry recipe recos here.
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The simplest tomato and basil penne with spicy Italian chickpeas from half-baked harvest
The chickpeas are an unusual but delicious addition to this pasta, adding all kinds of protein and fiber in a plant-based way. You probably don’t have a burrata lying around … but you can add some mozzarella, a generous shower of parmesan, or a scoop of ricotta instead.
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Vegetarian sweet potato and chilli with black beans
This is one of my oldies, but goodie recipes – I’ve made it for so many sick friends and families who have just had babies because it’s convenient in a bowl and full of vegetables. Bonus points that freeze it and heat it up wonderfully. Feel free to use carrot or butternut squash for the sweet potatoes, and pinto beans could represent black. All toppings are just a suggestion – you can also apply a scoop of sour cream or shred tortilla chips and call it a day.
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Roasted cauliflower tacos with coriander pesto
Cauliflower is a clutch when it comes to pantry meals – it lasts forever in the fridge and you can rice, toss in stir-fries, toast it sweet and caramelized, or use it instead of meat in these delicious vegetarian tacos. No avocado? Mix some chopped garlic and a pinch of Sriracha in plain yogurt or mayonnaise and let the crema do the talking.
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Root vegetable quinoa salad with tahini maple vinaigrette
This is more of a formula than a recipe: you can use any other root vegetables for the ones listed here, and if you don’t have quinoa you can use rice or another cereal. No tahini? Use almond butter. It’s a really satisfying vegetarian salad that’s hearty enough to have for dinner.
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Pasta with brown butter, whole lemon and parmesan, enjoy your meal
The name pretty much says it all. It may not be healthy in itself, but when you enjoy every bite and pair it with something green, it’s good for the soul.
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Pita Tostadas with butternut squash, black beans and avocado
One of my favorite foods, a little strange but incredibly tasty; This has been a crowd puller over the years. If you don’t have a pita, you can use flatbread, pizza crust, cauli crust, English muffin, or even an oven-crispy flour tortilla. These are times to get creative folks! Sub any winter squash or sweet potato for the butternut.
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30-minute tempeh & vegetable stir-fry from the minimalist baker
This recipe is changed regularly in our house, and I love it especially for this moment because you can toss in any vegetables you have on hand and use up any leftover grains. It’s so tasty, hearty, and will satisfy the restaurant cravings you’re developing right now.
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Coconut curry red lentil soup
This was our most popular recipe from the 2020 Cleanse menu because it’s the perfect combination of insanely delicious, incredibly healthy, and so easy. Plus it’s the best leftovers. And it’s vegan and gluten free. Are you sold yet?
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Easiest black bean soup ever
When it comes to pantry recipes, this is the easiest. If you know how to chop onions and toss a few cans of beans in a saucepan, you’ve pretty much mastered this recipe. Feel free to shake the toppings based on what you have in the refrigerator. A pile of yogurt, chopped tomatoes, almost all fresh herbs, onions – all good.
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Stuffed sweet potatoes
Get inspiration – they can be filled with almost anything. My lunch for today was a roasted sweet potato that was split open and filled with basil, massaged kale, avocado, and all the spices. Yum. These are pantry recipes that we want on file.
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Sometimes, when I don’t want to think about dinner and just want something heartwarming, a bowl of oatmeal is just the thing for me. This one has a savory or sweet option to suit your mood, as well as a boost of fiber and healthy fat from the chia seeds. If you go the sweet route, any frozen berry works great here (and can turn your gruel to a delightful shade of purple!)
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The best shakshuka
The last time I did this, I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes on hand, so I replaced a 28-ounce can of chopped fire-fried tomatoes. So simple that it was almost ridiculous, and may 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 below with us.
This post was originally published on March 17, 2020 and has been updated since then.