Pantry meals that can be made using only essential panty items such as canned goods, pasta, flour, and soup stocks can often be life savers. Whether you’re looking to save a few dollars on your grocery bill or staying in due to weather or sickness, it’s always handy to have a few essentials on hand. Many of the meals in this roundup are quick to make, high in nutrients, and suitable for various diets.
Pantry Meals as Comfort Food
Comfort food. What does this phrase mean to you? For many it means familiar flavours that have survived the special and not so special times in their lives. A familiar flavour that brings you back to another time or place. It sets your soul and mind at ease.
Pantry meals can be comforting during rough times. Just thinking about this soul warming and flavourful Homemade Tomato Soup or this Israeli Mejadra, made with rice, lentils, and onions makes me smile. I hope you find a few recipes in this roundup that bring you comfort and make you smile as well.
How to Stock a Basic Pantry
Whether you are limited by pantry space, income, time, or food availability, here are a few useful tips to keeping a well stocked pantry. These items have a long shelf life, are cheap, and can be used in many kinds of recipes.
Pasta – Good old boxed mac n cheese is delicious and it’s gotten many a university student through a tough time. Additionally, spaghetti and other shapes are great for variety’s sake. Pasta is so very versatile as it can be used in many different cuisines. Additionally, the rush you get from extra carbs will give you the warm fuzzies inside.
Perfect Pasta Pantry Meals
Everyone loves a tasty pasta dish. Carbs are so satisfying and versatile, they're the perfect pantry meal during tough times.
Noodles are a girls best friend and these easy garlic sesame noodles are without a doubt my favorite noodle recipe to date! They require just a few ingredients, are gluten free, ready in 15 minutes, and can be eaten hot or cold!
Soups/Stocks – Yes, you can stock canned soups but making your own soup is so satisfying and cheaper in the long run. Having beef, chicken, and vegetable stocks in your pantry allows you to make simple vegetable or lentil soups while also adding heaps of flavou to stews, etc.
Sensational Soup Pantry Meals
Great soup doesn't have to come from a can. If you have stock, a can of tomatoes, some spices, and pulses or legumes, you have the perfect pantry meal.
Ezo Gelin Corba is a spicy lentil soup made with red lentils, bulgur wheat, spicy red pepper paste, and tomato paste. While this hearty lentil soup is often enjoyed in Turkey for breakfast, it's perfectly comforting any time of day.
Farro and been soup, Tuscan style, beginning with a great mirepoix, your classic celery, carrots and onions, some spices and this flavor-packed white navy beans and farro, and some homemade croutons, and you have the makings of a delicious and scrumptious winter soup.
This easy Lentil Soup channels the flavor of my favorite crock-pot lentil dish in a delicious vegetarian soup!
Flour & Baking Essentials- Setting your pantry up for baking doesn’t have to be expensive. All you really need is flour, baking powder and soda, sugar, and yeast (keep that one in the fridge!) and you can make your own quick breads, breads, and cookies.
Breads are one of the things that are difficult to store so it's very useful to know how to make even a simple loaf. It's not difficult and could be a fun family activity.
There’s absolutely nothing like soft, steaming fresh baked bread to warm up a cold winter day. Our mom’s (Grandma’s!) homemade easy bread recipe is a household favourite that doesn’t last for long!
Pulses/Legumes- These are essential as they are superb sources of protein. If you stock beans, lentils, and chickpeas you can make many delicious meals from soups to curries, falafel and veggie burgers. Dried beans are quite cost effective, however be sure to follow cooking instructions on the bag for best (and safest) results.
The fun stuff - AKA Tacos and Burgers
Everyone likes to sink their teeth into a burger now and then.
These simple Dill Tuna and Chickpea Appetizer Bites with Lemon Caper Mayo are quick to make, delicious and are perfectly fine served hot or cold. And can easily be turned into an entree.
Spices/Herbs- These are some of the most expensive items to stock. Having a supply of the basics, such as basil, thyme, oregano, chili powder, chili flakes, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, and cumin. Keep track of what you use the most of and keep that in stock. Don’t forget salt and pepper!
Comforting Curry Pantry Meals
Who wouldn't love a soul warming curry? These recipes use a combination of lentils, chickpeas, and legumes to create simple, flavourful pantry meals.
Rich. Spicy. Exquisite. A mouthwatering and aromatic Indian dish, Daal Makhani is a thick, hearty lentil curry, made with brown lentils and red kidney beans in a creamy coconut and tomato sauce and seasoned with traditional Indian spices.
Rice/Grains- Again, these items are cost effective, shelf stable ingredients that are easy to cook in bulk and add to soups and salads. Many, like quinoa are high in protein and the combination of rice with beans provides complete proteins. Choose from quinoa, barley, bulgur, farro, and wheatberries.
Other Useful Pantry Items
The following may not be essential, but will help to create delicious meals for your family:
Hardy Vegetables- This includes veggies such as beets, potatoes, squashes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, onions, and garlic. Keep them in a cool, dry, dark spot and they’ll last for quite a while.
Cooking Oil/Condiments- Cooking oil is maybe a bit more necessary than condiments but what we’re aiming for is survivial with a little flair. Ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, vinegar, etc. It helps to keep a list of what your family uses regularly.
Canned Meat/Tomato Sauce & Canned Tomatoes- They help give a nutrient boost while building a little variety and taste in many dishes. If you have spaghetti sauce and pasta…you’ll never starve.
Coffee/Tea/Milk- Can you do without your daily cuppa? Why chance it. Stock up on your regulars and while you’re at it grab some shelf stable milk in tetras or powdered form. Don’t forget the coconut milk for a dairy free option.