20 Easy Pantry Meal Ideas to Make from Staples You Have on Hand
Learning how to make easy pantry meals is such an important skill! Whether you aren’t able to get to the grocery store or you simply want to make use more of what you have, learning to get creative with what’s in your pantry will make you more confident in the kitchen.
Inside of my program, The Method Membership, I teach my members how to stock their pantry, fridge, and freezer so they have a few staples on hand that are commonly called for in recipes or simply really useful and versatile to have when putting a meal together. It makes cooking so much easier and more convenient because you already have most of what you need on hand, and then you only need to buy a few ingredients here or there to really make something extra delicious.
But the important piece of that is knowing what to do with those pantry staples and learning how to have some fun and play in the kitchen so you don’t end up using the pantry ingredient in the same way over and over again and getting bored. We like to keep things fun!
These are a few of the ways to make use of our pantry staples and change it up so that we’re getting the nutritious benefits of these different items without getting bored!
Quick note: if you don’t have something on hand for one of these recipes, ask yourself if there’s something you do have you that could use instead! This is where you can really develop your skills in the kitchen! Instead of fresh onion, for example, you can use onion powder. Or if a recipe calls for almonds but you only have walnuts, then give that a try! Don’t be afraid to experiment and go off-recipe a little to make it work for you!
Pantry Meals to Make with a Can of Beans
Beans are a delicious type of legume packed with plant-based protein and energizing carbohydrates!
Beans are a delicious source of plant-based protein. They’re also a notable source of healthy fiber, particularly soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has the ability to reduce “bad” cholesterol levels and keep you feeling full longer. Fiber is also great for your digestive system and GI motility.
My husband Jesse is particularly a huge fan of any type of beans and we always have them on hand, so we’ve found ways to get creative with them!
Add to a Nourish Bowl
Nourish bowls are quick and easy meals to make with anything you have on hand. The best part about them is you don’t need a specific recipe, you simply need to do a check to make sure you have all of the different components (protein, starchy carbohydrate, non-starchy carbohydrate, healthy fat, and flavor factor) and you have a tasty, nutrient-dense meal!
Make a Tasty Bean Salad
Bean salad is packed with protein and healthy fats and will keep you feeling full longer. This Two-Bean Herb Salad is made just from two different types of beans and spices and herbs that you likely have on hand. Simply use whichever beans you have on hand! You can add greens and a grain of your choice for a complete meal!
Make an Elevated Version of Baked Beans
Sometimes, it may be as easy as just taking a new spin on a classic recipe. If you normally bake your beans without any extra seasoning, try this recipe for the Easiest Baked Beans that are dressed up with spices and herbs you likely have in your pantry or fridge.
Add White Beans to a Smoothie
I know what you’re thinking — beans in a smoothie?! Yes! They’re packed with protein and healthy fats and when they’re blended, they give your smoothie that creamy texture! Freeze your white beans and then add them to a smoothie instead of banana! Pair it with some other fruits so that you get that sweetness factor. If you want a fail-proof recipe, try this Smoothie for Supporting Gut Health and Immunity!
Bake Black Beans into Brownies
Baking with black beans became a trend a few years ago and for good reason! They add so much protein to the snack and give it that ooey-gooey texture too! You can try this Black Bean Brownie Recipe which has a few items you can find in your pantry and a few enhancer ingredients. If you don’t already have maca or Moon Juice Beauty Dust, you can leave those out and they’ll be just as delicious.
What You Can Make with a Can of Chickpeas
Chickpeas are just like black beans in their nutritional profile! They’re packed with protein and fibers that keep you full and support your digestion.
Make it the Star of Its Own Salad
This Lemon Chickpea Salad is just a few ingredients, and you can make in 10 minutes or less!
The main ingredient is chickpeas plus a bunch of herbs and spices and a little bit of lemon juice and you’re good to go!
Turn it Into a Hearty Veggie-Burger
This Simple Chickpea Burger recipe also includes mainly pantry or fridge staples — there may be one or two ingredients that you might not have like sweet onion or nutritional yeast if you’re not used to cooking with that yet, but they should be easy to pick up the next time you go out or place an online order.
The great thing about these buyers is that they’re really hearty and filling and they can be freezer for up to a month! So you can make a big batch now, eat half this week and save half for another week. That way, you have your own healthy freezer meals on hand for those days or nights when you don’t have something planned.
Transform Them into Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites
It’s always great when you can make a dessert that’s packed with proteins and fibers and made from plant-based whole foods you have on hand! This Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bana Bites recipe is a fun way to put a new twist on a staple ingredient and change it up when you get bored of the same old!
The recipe calls for cashew or almond butter, but if you don’t have those, you can always use peanut butter or any other seed/nut butter you have on hand or can make yourself with ingredients you have!
Blend into a Homemade Hummus
Hummus is such a fun staple recipe to play around with and really make your own. The base of a classic hummus is simply a can of chickpeas, and adding in a quarter cup of olive oil and lemon juice and blending it all together in food processor. From there you can really play around with the flavors you like, adding in roasted garlic or roasted red peppers, seasonings, or herbs to really make it your own!
Bonus tip: heat it up in the oven after blending and serve it warm with pita bread or mixed into a warm nourish bowl!
Make a Comforting Chana Masala Pantry Meal
This delicious Chana Masala is quick and easy to make and the perfect plant-based dinner option. Make the Chana Masala and then serve with perfectly steamed rice, sweet potatoes or steamed veggies!
There’s a few fresh ingredients in this recipe like ginger, which you can substitute for 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger. It also calls for fresh onion and you can instead use 1 tablespoon of onion powder.
What to Make with Canned Tomatoes
Tomatoes have been studied in great detail for their relation to cancer protection due to their antioxidant content. Specific antioxidants in tomatoes protect the bones, liver, kidneys and bloodstream. These antioxidants may also work to reduce the damage done to fat in cell membranes or within the bloodstream (a.k.a. lipid peroxidation).
A can of tomatoes may seem pretty limiting but there are actually a few great ideas!
Bake a Simple Egg Shakshuka
Originating from parts of North Africa and the Middle East, Shakshuka relies heavily on delicious spices and herbs to create deep flavors that pair wonderfully with the acidic tomatoes and makes a great go-to pantry meal.
This Simple Shakshuka recipe is perfect for changing up your breakfast, having a special brunch or making a hearty breakfast for dinner!
Make a Delicious Homemade Pasta Sauce
Having a great pasta sauce can be a game-changer. You can use it in so many different ways and a homemade sauce can feel (and taste) more special and delicious than even a great store-bought sauce.
This is our favorite Homemade Tomato Sauce recipe and we put it on everything from our favorite gluten-free pasta, to roasted veggies, and tofu.
There are couple fresh ingredients listed in this recipe, but if you don’t have those on hand, you can omit them and always make this recipe again later when you have them!
Use in a Chana Masala
If you also have chickpeas on hand, use the can of tomatoes for a quick and easy chana masala!
What to Make with Peanut Butter
Just like many other nuts we often speak and hear of, peanuts have quite a bit of healthy fat. They’re primarily made of both mono and polyunsaturated fats which are great for heart and brain health. They’re also known for their protein content, making them a great vegetarian or vegan protein source.
If you have a peanut allergy, don’t worry! In these recipes I’m sharing, I’ve mentioned how you can swap out any other nut or seed butter of your choice!
Add to Smoothies
This is simple enough! Take your favorite smoothie and drop in a spoonful of any nut butter to give it extra minerals, fat, and protein.
Make a Creamy Sauce
I love making stir fry and one of my favorites is a peanut Pad Thai stir fry! With just a few ingredients, including a 1/3 cup of peanut butter, you have a nutritious peanut sauce ready to cook rice noodles, a protein, and veggies. Try this Peanut Pad Thai recipe!
Enjoy a Good Old Fashion PB and J!
When was the last time you had a PB and J?! Sometimes it’s the simplest pantry meals that we just need to go back to every once and a while!
Or if you’re feeling a little adventurous and want to dress it up, you can do a PB and J on sweet potato toast instead of regular bread.
Make Protein-Packed Buckeyes for Dessert
This easy Peanut Butter Buckeye Recipe is perfect for whipping up a healthy dessert option with a few pantry staples ingredients! This recipe quickly became a favorite of the NS community within days of it being posted because it’s just a few ingredients, healthy, and it’s chocolate and peanut butter! Who doesn’t love that?
What to Make with Quinoa
Quinoa is a great plant-based source of protein, fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants. It’s packed with whole grains which have been shown to reduce risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It’s also one of the few plant-based protein sources that contains all 9 essential amino acids!
Quinoa is a useful staple to have on hand because it can be included in a variety of simple pantry meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Make a Breakfast Porridge!
Most people tend to think of quinoa for lunch and dinner, but it tastes delicious in a hot breakfast porridge too! It changes the texture and give you extra protein and fiber in the meal! This is one of my favorite recipes for a Warm Quinoa Breakfast Cereal, to give you some inspiration, but you can dress it up in the same way you dress up your oatmeal — with nuts, seeds, raisins, cinnamon or other spices, etc.
Use as Breadcrumbs to Make Crispy Versions of Your Favorite Foods!
This is a fun healthy option to get that crispy texture of breaded food while adding a lot of fiber and plant-based protein. This is especially great for “breading” veggies or chicken for kids!
Simply replace cooked quinoa in any recipe that calls for breadcrumbs, like this Healthy Fish and Chips recipe.
Bonus: you can use it as breadcrumbs inside “meatballs” to reduce the animal protein and also make the meal more filling!
Add or Swap Quinoa into Soup Recipes
Most soups would taste great and become an even more filling meal with the addition of quinoa! You can either swap quinoa in recipes that call for noodles or pasta or you can simple serve your favorite soups over quinoa.
Add to a Nourish Bowl
I already shared how nourish bowls are quick and easy meals to make with anything you have on hand, and quinoa is the perfect thing to include as your plant-based protein source!
Put it Into Practice — Time to Make Your Pantry Meal
Which one of these staples do you have on hand that you want to cook with this week? And which pantry meal or snack do you think you could make with what you have on hand or what you’re able to easily get?
If you make any of these, be sure to tag me on Instagram @nutritionstripped so I can see you putting this into practice and share your creation with the NS community!
Do you have other meal or snack ideas for any of these pantry staples? Share with us in the comments below!
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