Chances are, your recent grocery shopping trips have looked different than they usually do. With everyone having to grab whatever they can, we’re going to be relying on what is in our cupboards and more shelf-stable foods than ever before.
This post is full of easy dinner ideas and pantry staples recipes. It might feel like a bit of a challenge, but it is possible to put together quick dinner ideas for your family with on-hand ingredients.
This list of unique pantry meals will let you cook from your cupboards and use up the rice, pasta, beans and canned vegetables that you have, and serve your family a delicious dinner.
Pantry dinner ideas for your family
Pantry dinner ideas are really popular online and while a lot of those posts also include how to plan to use what you already have on hand. This isn’t one of those posts.
I’m in your shoes. I have a cupboard full of canned foods, and things I don’t usually use. And I’m not sure what to do about it.
I reached out to some food bloggers to find out what their pantry staples recipes were so I could share them with you. And what I got back was a list of interesting recipes, with delicious flavors that will help you get creative and feed your family.
This collection includes soups, different types of chilis, and main dish ideas. While I don’t have all the ingredients to make all the things in this list, it really opened my eyes to all the yummy things I can make with what I have in my pantry.
Whether you need quick pantry meal ideas due to an emergency or want to use up what you have, this list will help you put meals together easily.
While this list includes about 45 recipes for dinners (or lunches), I also included a few breakfast recipes. With the kids being home from school, things are going to get eaten really quickly. These easy breakfast ideas include a few ways to use the oatmeal in your cupboard and how to change up the flavors.
And you KNOW you have a can of pumpkin hanging out in there. There is an easy pumpkin muffin recipe that your kids will love!
Usually, I follow a recipe completely. But in this case, I’m using these pantry recipes as a starting off point. I’ve included several versions of some of the recipes (like tomato soup – the ultimate comfort food!) to show you how you can modify them with small tweaks.
I included a bunch of chili recipes because that can be made with so many different flavor profiles. I know that our biggest goal right now is to get our family’s fed. But I’m also trying to keep things fun and fresh.
Instead of serving the same chili once a week, I can change things up. I may be freaking out on the inside, but the kids don’t need to.
For the main course section, I included things that normally I would make as a side dish as well. If you have protein, just add it to make it more of a full meal. While some of these recipes are also vegan, you can absolutely modify them to include the meats you have on hand or make them the way your family would like them.
Some of these easy dinner recipes have international flavors and ingredients. If you don’t happen to have these things, simply Google to find out if you can substitute with something else. But many of the recipes can be used as an idea and you can easily modify it with what you do have.
Use these quick pantry meal ideas to help you cook with what you have in your cupboards.
Skip the cereal and try these more interesting breakfast recipes that can be made from your favorite pantry staples.
Soup is one of my favorite quick dinner ideas to make with pantry staples. They are usually pretty inexpensive and really adaptable to what you have on hand. I like to serve it with a salad or add some protein to make it more filling for my family.
Chili is one of the best pantry staples recipes because you can make it a number of different ways, each with a totally unique flavor! I've included several recipes to show you how versatile it can be.
Since we always have pasta on hand, I wanted to share a few quick dinner ideas that your family will love! Some use classic spaghetti but others are more unique and let you think outside your standard pasta meal.
Main Dish Ideas
These pantry staples recipes are a little more hearty than the dishes above. Some can be served as a side dish or as a main dish (especially if you add meat). These pantry dinner ideas will let you have delicious food, even in an emergency situation.
How to organize your pantry staples
Again, this post is not about the prep and planning of cooking from your cupboard. But I did want to share the super simple way that I am organizing my ingredients.
I used a Google Sheets document to create a spreadsheet that I could print out and check off as I go. I made a column that says “used” and “item.” Under the item column, I put in the ingredients that I have.
I took everything out of my freezer and wrote down all the things I have that I can use for a dinner recipe. If I had multiples of one item, I wrote it on its own line. I then did the same thing with my fridge and the pantry.
Now, as I plan my pantry staples recipes, I can go down the list and see what ingredients I have and mark them off as I use them. When I did this, I realized that I have way more food than I thought.
I’m now kind of excited to challenge myself and put together recipes from what I have. But that was only after I gathered all the recipes in this list because there are such unique ideas!
Other pantry meals resources
I am not an expert with pantry meals, but there are people who are. If you need more simple recipe ideas or need more information on inexpensive meal ideas, check out these awesome sites!
Justine is awesome. She shares really amazing recipes, she’s an Instant Pot expert and has lots of family activities on her site!
Side note: You should always have farro in your pantry. It’s a grain that is nutty and delicious. You can use it in place of pasta (which you might be burnt out on or it could be hard to find).
It’s a versatile grain that you can use in a variety of different ways including my favorite Roasted Veggie Farro Bowls.
More helpful sites that I love:
- 4 Hats and Frugal – Amiyrah is the expert on budget meals, meal prep and so much more!
- 3 Boys and A Dog – Kelli has tons of easy recipes including lots for ground beef.
- Premeditated Leftovers – I love how Aleah creates her recipes and is able to use up lots of staples in a unique way.
Is there a site you love? Leave it in the comments so other people can check it out too.
Pin to save these easy dinner recipes for later
These easy dinner ideas and pantry staples recipes will help you create family meals with what you have in your cupboard. It takes just a minute to get organized, and then you can create unique dishes with on-hand ingredients.