31 eat from the pantry recipes! These easy recipes from the pantry are perfect to make when money is tight, and you need to shop your pantry.
Sometimes it feels like there’s no food in the house.
You look around your pantry and freezer, and it feels like there’s just random ingredients…and no real meals.
But you may be surprised by all the tasty dinners you can put together, just by using up what you have on hand!
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What should I have in my pantry?
To ensure you can always whip up some quick and cheap weekday meals, it helps to keep certain pantry staples around.
Here’s a list of basic pantry staples:
- Beans – canned or dried
- Spices – garlic powder, salt and pepper, cumin, onion powder, Italian blend
- Canned tomatoes
- Stock or broth
- Baking ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda
- Condensed soups
- Pasta sauce
- Enchilada sauce
- Pancake mix
- Condiments – ketchup, mustard, salsa
- Canned or frozen vegetables
- Potatoes, onions, carrots and other long-lasting vegetables
- Lean protein (tuna, chicken, ground beef or turkey)
If you keep those items in your fridge, pantry, and freezer, there are actually TONS of different ‘eat from the pantry recipes’ you can make.
Pro-tip: If you don’t have the exact ingredients for any of these recipes, that’s okay! Just get a little creative, and substitute with what you do have.
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What can I make with these ingredients?
When you shop your pantry, you may find some ingredients that you aren’t sure what to do with.
Luckily, there’s a really cool resource you can use! It’s called Supercook, and consider it your very own pantry recipes generator!
Just plug your ingredients into Supercook, and it’ll come up with all the recipes you can make with them!
Okay, let’s check out a 30+ empty pantry recipes you can use to tide you over til you can grocery shop again!
If you have ground beef or turkey, you can make traditional-style chili with canned tomatoes and beans.
Vegetarian chili is also delicious if you have some peppers, onions, or other veggies to add.
And white chicken chili can be made with broth and beans.
You can use prepared pasta sauce, or make your own with a can of tomato sauce and some seasoning.
Feel free to use any shaped pasta, and make it meaty or vegetarian, depending on what you have.
Pro-tip: You can make garlic bread out of leftover buns, bagels, english muffins, or sandwich bread. Just add butter and garlic powder, and toast!
3. Canned soup and grilled cheese
Heat up a can of soup or some ramen noodles, and make a grilled cheese sandwich.
It’s a timeless classic that never disappoints!
The beauty of quesadillas is that they’re completely customizable!
Use up any type of leftovers, or any meat, veggies, or beans you have.
Put the ingredients, plus some shredded cheese, in between 2 tortillas. Heat it in a skillet over medium heat.
I’ve even made ‘pizzadillas’ with pasta sauce, cheese, and pizza toppings.
5. BBQ Pulled Chicken
It doesn’t get any easier than BBQ pulled chicken.
Put a few chicken breasts or thighs into the slow cooker, along with some barbecue sauce, and cook for 4-6 hours.
Then you can shred it, and eat it on buns, over rice, or on its own.
(If you don’t have BBQ sauce, you can use ketchup and brown sugar.)
6. Pancakes or waffles
You can make pancakes or waffles really easily with a store bought mix.
Or here’s a recipe to make your own homemade pancake mix.
Pro-tip: Keep a box of Bisquick all-purpose mix in your pantry, and you can make everything from pancakes to baked goods, biscuits, or even a breading for chicken.
7. Burritos or enchiladas
Either of these pantry meals can be made with tortillas, a filling of meat and/or beans, and topped with enchilada sauce.
If you don’t have a can of enchilada sauce, you can easily make your own.
You can roll up each enchilada separately, or layer it like lasagna. Top with cheese and bake at 375℉ for 20-30 minutes.
8. Potato hash
A potato hash is a simple dish made with diced potatoes (fresh or frozen), and any veggies, cheese, or leftover meat that you have.
You can stir in some eggs as well for added protein. Saute it in a skillet until potatoes are cooked through.
9. Chicken or tuna salad
Canned tuna or chicken makes an excellent pantry staple.
You can whip up some chicken or tuna salad by combining it with mayo or greek yogurt.
It can be eaten on a sandwich, over a salad, or on its own.
Pro-tip: Or make egg salad with hard-boiled eggs and mayo and mustard!
10. Macaroni and cheese
Whether you keep a boxed mac and cheese mix on hand, or whip up an easy homemade version, this is the perfect cheap pantry meal!
Here’s a mac and cheese recipe with just 3 ingredients!
Feel free to jazz up your mac and cheese with pizza sauce and toppings for pizza mac, or taco meat and seasoning for taco mac.
11. Biscuits and gravy
If you don’t have biscuit dough in your refrigerator or freezer, you can easily make some with Bisquick mix.
(No baking mix? Here’s a simple drop biscuit recipe.)
Top the biscuits with a jar or packet of sausage or country gravy, or make an easy homemade gravy.
12. Ritz cracker chicken
In case you have some random packets of crackers in your pantry, here’s an easy and delicious way to use them up!
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed in large freezer bag or food processor
- 6 tbs butter, melted
- Garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 350℉
- Dip chicken breasts in melted butter, then roll in crushed crackers
- Place in baking dish, then sprinkle with garlic powder
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through
13. Panini sandwiches
You can make grilled or panini sandwiches with just about anything you have on hand.
Use up and repurpose your leftovers by placing them between 2 slices of bread.
No need for a fancy panini maker – a George Foreman style grill works too, or just make them like a grilled cheese on the stovetop.
14. Baked ziti
A baked pasta dish is a super easy way to use up what’s in your pantry.
Any type of pasta sauce can be combined with any shape of noodle.
Simply cook the pasta according to al-dente package directions, then mix in the sauce, and top with cheese.
Bake the casserole at 350℉ for 25-30 minutes until heated through.
15. Black bean burgers
If you’ve never tried black bean burgers, they’re actually really delicious!
I usually roughly follow this recipe, or keep some store-bought ones in the freezer for when I’m in a hurry.
Homemade pizza can be made TONS of different ways.
For the crust, you can use:
- Store-bought dough
- Garlic bread
- English muffins
- French bread
- Pre-baked crust from the store (ie. Boboli)
Top any of those with a little sauce or tomato, and any toppings you have on hand.
Here’s a big list of pizza toppings to choose from!
17. American goulash
Some elbow macaroni can be combined with ground beef and canned tomatoes to make American-style goulash.
This is a really easy goulash recipe with just 4 ingredients.
18. Chicken parmesan
You can make chicken parmesan with chicken breasts, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce, and cheese.
Or if you have breaded chicken patties or large tenders in your freezer, you can make a quick, faux version!
19. Mexican lasagna
Try a tasty twist on a classic lasagna, by using taco meat and tortillas instead of noodles!
Stretch your taco meat farther by adding in beans and corn.
The red sauce can be salsa, canned Ro-tel tomatoes, or enchilada sauce.
Here’s any easy Mexican lasagna recipe to use as inspiration.
20. Crockpot chicken and stuffing
With just 4 ingredients, you can make a super easy ‘dump dinner’ in your slow cooker.
This meal tastes kind of like Thanksgiving, so you know it’s a winner!
Here’s how to make it:
In the slow cooker, add:
- 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 boxes Stove-Top stuffing (dry)
- 2 cans chicken broth
- 2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
Quick tip: Combine broth and soup together before pouring over chicken and stuffing mix for best results.
Cook on Low for 7 hours (or on High for 4 hours)
21. Sheet pan supper
The beauty of a sheet pan supper is that you can use up any meat and veggies that you have.
Any cut of chicken, steak, seafood, sausage, or pork gets placed on a sheet tray with vegetables, and all get roasted together in the oven.
Here are a variety of sheet pan dinner recipes for inspiration!
I like to keep a box of Zatarain’s jambalaya mix in the pantry, so I can easily whip up a quick, flavorful dinner.
If you don’t have a box mix, here’s an easy jambalaya recipe that you can use.
Feel free to use just chicken or just sausage, if that’s what you have.
23. Tuna casserole
Tuna noodle casserole has got to be the quintessential cheap pantry meal.
It’s made with canned tuna, egg noodles, and canned soup, so it’s really easy to keep those ingredients stocked.
Try this easy recipe!
24. Burrito bowl
A ‘burrito bowl’ is basically just your favorite burrito ingredients put together in a bowl over rice.
You can customize it with whatever protein and veggies you have.
Here are some burrito bowl ideas:
- Taco meat
- Bell peppers
- Sour cream
- Shredded cheese
Ground beef or turkey can easily be turned into meatloaf with just a few simple ingredients.
Here’s a recipe I like to use for mini meatloaves you make in a muffin tin:
- Preheat your oven to 375℉.
- Combine a pound of ground beef with a box of stuffing mix (like Stove-Top) and a cup of water in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
- Distribute the mixture into the 12 cups of the muffin tin. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
26. Stir fry
Another versatile pantry meal is stir fry.
If you have rice, veggies, and protein, they can be mixed and matched for a tasty stir fry.
Canned or frozen vegetables can definitely be used in a pinch, and it can be made vegetarian if you don’t have any meat or seafood.
27. Sloppy joes
Another easy meal from the pantry is sloppy joes!
If you don’t have the traditional canned sauce (like Manwich) on hand, you can make your own sauce using ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar.
28. Spanish rice
Since rice is such a good pantry staple, another idea is to make spanish rice.
Cook the rice with some canned tomatoes or salsa, and broth if you have it.
You can customize it to include any meat as well, such as ground beef, chicken, sausage or shrimp.
Making tacos is SO easy and fast with ground beef or chicken.
Just brown it up on the stove with a taco seasoning packet, or some cumin and chili powder.
Or you can slow cook chicken breasts or thighs in the crockpot with some salsa, and then shred it for your taco meat.
Serve them on tortillas, or on crunchy shells or over tortilla chips. Top with your cheese, salsa, sour cream, or whatever you have.
If soup isn’t the perfect pantry clean out meal, I don’t know what is!
You can put together so many combinations from simple ingredients like meat, vegetables, and pasta or rice.
Here are some examples of pantry soups you can make:
- Chicken noodle
- Corn chowder
- Taco soup
- Split pea
- Tortellini soup
Ready to make some cheap pantry meals?
I hope this list of easy meals from the pantry has given you lots of inspiration!
These ideas are perfect if you:
- Are trying to clean out or ‘eat down’ the pantry
- Can’t get to the store
- Have a tight grocery budget this month
And remember, even if you don’t have the exact ingredients for a recipe, it’s perfectly okay to get creative and swap in what you do have.
Some of the best recipes come from necessity!
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