Stuck at home or just don't feel like going to the store? You don't have to be sentenced to boring meals! These healthy pantry meals are nourishing, delicious, and made from pantry staples and long-lasting refrigerator foods.
In the past few years, we've all had our experiences with not being able to grab fresh produce at the market in a moment's notice. Between quarantines and supply chain issues, many of us have been relying more on pantry staples to make our meals. Even in normal times, life happens, and sometimes you need to throw together something to feed your family with things you have on hand, even if you haven't been to the store in a while!
Personally, I think it's always a good idea to keep a bare minimum of 2 weeks worth of food in the house at all times. Pandemic or not, having a stocked pantry and freezer is practical for feeding your family healthy meals without always having to run to the store, and it's also a good idea in case of emergency.
Ok, but now that you've stocked your pantry and freezer (if you haven't read this post on how to stock a healthy pantry ASAP), what are you actually going to eat? Like, yes, I'll eat beans and rice if that's what it comes down to, but there's no need to sentence yourself to bland boring meals just because you're stuck at home. Let's go about life eating delicious, balanced meals. In case you're used to only cooking with fresh food, or if you aren't used to cooking at all, use this ultimate guide to pantry meals to help you enjoy healthy, flavorful meals with what you have on hand, whether you're stuck at home or you just don't feel like getting out. (Because really, people are the worst.)
What are considered ingredients for 'pantry meals':
Obviously nonperishable pantry staples like whole grains, beans, canned goods, nut butters, cooking oil and spices.
But also, things that keep well that I suggest you always keep on hand in the freezer and refrigerator:
- Meat and seafood (in the freezer)
- Frozen fruit and veggies
- Plain Greek Yogurt (especially individual containers)
- Cheese (especially firm cheeses)
- Bread or tortillas
- Milk of choice (dairy or non-dairy)
And finally, some fresh produce lasts well over two weeks (even months!) when stored correctly:
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes - 2-3 months in a cool, dark place
- Onions and garlic - up to 6 months in a cool, dark place
- Root vegetables (carrots, beets, etc) - up to 1 month refrigerated
- Winter Squash - 1-3 months in a cool, dark place
- Cabbage - up to 1 month refrigerated
- Apples - up to 2 months refrigerated
- Citrus fruits - up to 1 month refrigerated
Pantry-Friendly Ingredient Substitutions
Some of these recipes use fresh ingredients like fruit, vegetables, and herbs. In most cases, you can substitute more pantry or freezer-friendly ingredients.
- Use frozen veggies like spinach, peppers, broccoli, or butternut squash in place of fresh.
- Use frozen berries or other fruit like mango or pineapple in place of fresh.
- Use your favorite non-dairy milk in place of regular milk (since it is often sold in shelf-stable versions). You can also sub canned evaporated milk in some recipes like soup and creamy pastas.
- Use canned coconut milk in place of cream.
- Use canned produce in place of fresh (like beets, corn, etc).
- Use dried fruit like raisins or cranberries in baked recipes.
- Use dried herbs in place of fresh (you'll need about 1 teaspoon dried for every tablespoon of fresh in the recipe).
- Canned chicken or tuna can be used in place of fresh chicken in most chicken salad or soup recipes. You can also sub in canned chickpeas.
The Ultimate List of Healthy Pantry Recipes
Healthy Pantry Breakfast Recipes
Pantry Oatmeal Recipes
- Instant Pot Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
- Samoa Baked Oatmeal
- Cranberry Orange Baked Oatmeal
- Steel Cut Oats 4 Ways
- Golden Milk Oatmeal
- Earl Grey Oatmeal with Honey Broiled Grapefruit
- Maple Tahini Fig Overnight Oats - Use dried figs in place of fresh, or try dates!
- PB&J Overnight Oats
- Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
- Hummingbird Baked Oatmeal
Healthy Pantry Egg Recipes
- Green Chile Mexican Breakfast Casserole
- Veggie Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole - Use any frozen veggies you may have on hand!
- Red Pepper, Kale and Feta Frittata - Sub in jarred roasted red pepper and frozen kale or spinach.
- Broccoli Cheddar Egg Cups - Use frozen broccoli.
- Quinoa Egg Breakfast Muffins by Kroll's Korner
Healthy Pantry-Friendly Smoothie Recipes
- Mango Ginger Turmeric Smoothie
- No Protein Powder Blueberry Muffin Smoothie
- Healthy Gut Vanilla Chai Smoothie
- Immune Boosting Mango Grapefruit Smoothie
- Carrot Cake Smoothie by Milk and Honey Nutrition
Other Breakfast Recipes
- Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
- No Added Sugar Blueberry Pancakes
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Blender Muffins
- Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Vegan Coconut Tahini Granola
- Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles
- Gluten-Free Oatmeal Waffles
- Quinoa Pancakes
- Breakfast Sweet Potato by Kroll's Korner
Healthy Pantry Lunches
Pantry-Friendly Soup Recipes
- Thai Coconut Pumpkin Curry Soup
- Dairy Free Creamy Split Pea Potato Soup
- Easiest Tomato Basil Soup - Use canned tomatoes and jarred roasted red peppers.
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Carrot Lentil Soup by Nutrition To Fit
- White Bean Lemon Soup by Dishing Out Health
- Instant Pot Potato Soup by Nutrition To Fit
Pantry Lunch Salad Recipes
Canned chicken works great for chicken salad! You can also use canned chickpeas instead.
- No Mayo Orange Poppy Seed Chicken Salad
- Coconut Curry Chicken Salad
- Healthy Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
- Tuna Salad with Cranberries by Chelsey Amer Nutrition
- Spinach Egg White Tuna Salad by Chelsey Amer Nutrition
- Beet Tuna Salad by Milk and Honey Nutrition (sub canned beets if needed)
Sandwiches and Other Pantry-Friendly Lunch Recipes
- Apple White Cheddar Hot Ham and Cheese (leave out the ham if needed)
- Broccoli Cheddar Melts by Cait's Plate
- Granola Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Tahini Butter by Dishing Out Health
- Beet Tuna Salad Wrap by Milk and Honey Nutrition (sub canned beets and a tortilla wrap if needed)
- Elote Corn Quesadillas by Dishing Out Health
Pantry Dinner Recipes
Dinner Using Rice and Grains
- Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl - Use frozen brussels sprouts if needed, or omit them!
- Creamy Pumpkin Risotto
- Instant Pot Brown Rice Risotto with Spring Veggies - Frozen asparagus and peas work well here.
- Brown Rice Shrimp and Leek Risotto
- Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake
- Quinoa Lentil Power Bowls by Chelsey Amer Nutrition
- Wild Rice and Cheesy Broccoli Casserole by Dishing Out Health
Pantry Pasta Recipes
- Green Chile Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Broccoli and Sun Dried Tomato White Bean Pasta
- One Pot Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Shrimp - Use jared pesto and frozen broccoli.
- Italian Sausage Baked Ziti - Leave out the eggplant if needed.
- Broccoli Cheddar Pasta Bake by Cait's Plate
- Garlic Lemon Pea Pasta by Chelsey Amer Nutrition
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese by Kroll's Korner
- Lemon Artichoke Piccata Pasta by Dishing Out Health
- Kung Pao Pasta by Kroll's Korner
- Spinach Mac and Cheese Bites by Kroll's Korner
- Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta by Dishing Out Health
Pantry Dinners Using Beans
- Easy Instant Pot Mexican Black Bean Soup
- The Best Easy Pinto Beans
- Vegan Pumpkin Lentil Chili with Quinoa
- Easy Spicy Black Bean Burgers by Cait's Plate
- Chickpea Meatballs by Dishing Out Health
- Vegetarian Sheet Pan Nachos by Cait's Plate
Pantry Soup and Stew Recipes
- Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup - Sub in frozen veggies as needed.
- Green Lentil Coconut Curry by Nourish Nutrition Co
- Slow Cooker Smoky Vegetarian Chili by Hummusapien
- One Pot Curried Lentil Soup by Dishing Out Health
- Salmon Corn Chowder by Hummusapien - Use canned salmon if needed.
- West African Peanut Stew by Dishing Out Health
Other Pantry-Friendly Dinner Recipes
- Green Chile Cheddar Shrimp and Grits
- Cod with Moroccan Stewed Tomatoes and Chickpeas
- Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef
- Easy Chipotle Shrimp Tacos
- Slow Cooker Balsamic Braised Short Ribs
- 6 Ingredient Tortilla Crusted Tilapia
- Healthy Crock Pot Carnitas
- Salmon Quinoa Burgers
- South African Spiced Shakshuka by Nourish Nutrition Co
- Curry Spiced Salmon Cakes by Chelsey Amer Nutrition
- Caramelized Onion Pistachio Veggie Burgers by Milk and Honey Nutrition
- Curried Salmon Sliders by Dishing Out Health
Homemade Snacks Using Pantry Ingredients
- Pumpkin Protein Balls with Cranberries and Pecans
- No Bake Lemon Poppy Seed Snack Balls
- Apricot White Chocolate Snack Balls
- Roasted Beet Hummus
- Easy Savory Granola
- Peanut Butter Cup Quinoa Energy Bites
- Roasted Garlic Hummus
- No Bake Monster Cookie Snack Bites
- Healthier Scotcheroo Energy Balls by Milk and Honey Nutrition
- Chocolate Almond Coconut Oat Bites by Cait's Plate
- 7 Ingredient Pumpkin Pecan Cookies by Kroll's Korner
- Zesty Ranch Popcorn by Milk and Honey Nutrition
- Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie Bars by Kroll's Korner