This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
Looking for some easy pantry dinner recipes? Are you staring at your pantry shelves and wondering how you can turn any of the ingredients into a meal? Not just a slapped together meal of random stuff, but a real, yummy, easy pantry dinner recipe that you can cook tonight?
I was wondering the same thing. When you can’t get to the store, or you find that the store is out of a lot of their regular stock, it’s time to cook an easy pantry dinner recipe! Now is the time to dig deep, way into the back of your pantry and try to come up with a meal from what you already have.
Hang on tight, and I’ll try to help you figure out what you can make for dinner tonight by shopping from your own pantry. I’ll also share 5 easy pantry dinner recipes that I’m making this week for my own family. Hopefully one of these recipes can inspire what you can have for dinner tonight!
WANT EASY PARTY PLANNING?
Want to remember this post? Pin this post, Extra Frugal Pantry Meals – 5 Recipes From My Pantry, to your favorite Pinterest board right now!
Every Pantry Is Different
I know you have different stuff in your pantry than I do. I also know, that we might have some of the same items too! Either way I’m going to teach you how to look in the pantry and try to make a meal out of what you have.
Then, I’ll share easy pantry dinner recipes that I’m going to make this week based off what I already have in my own pantry right now.
Why You Should Stockpile
Before we get too far into this post, I want to take a quick moment to share the importance of having a stockpile. Stockpiling is a great way make sure you always have food in your pantry.
Even when a pandemic hits, you can be assured you will have pantry staples on hand, when the rest of the world is frantically trying to stock up on theirs. You won’t have to worry about rushing to the store to stock up on essentials, because you will already have them – and you will have paid a lot less for them too!
If you are new to stockpiling, read this post – How To Build A Stockpile – 5 Simple Steps. Stockpiling is a GREAT way to keep your grocery budget very low and still provide scrumptious meals for your family!
Other Posts About Stockpiling You Might Like:
How To Make Easy Pantry Dinner Recipes
The best way to make easy pantry dinner recipes is to use what you have! I’ll bet you hate that I just said that huh?! I know, I do too. If I was desperate, and trying to figure out what to cook from the stuff I had in my pantry, I would be mad right now.
Truth is, you have to use what you have.
So, what’s in your pantry right now? Stop, right now, go take a look. See what you have. If you are really struggling to come up with meals you can make with what you already have, I’d suggest a major pantry clean out.
Pantry Clean Out
Take everything out of your pantry, and I mean everything. Sometimes the best way to see how much you really have is to get it out in the open.
Open that pantry door right now and go for it! Take stuff out. Organize it by what it is. Which means, put all your canned goods in one space and all the pasta noodles in another area. Gather up the croutons and baking supplies. Just group things together based off what they are.
Quick Pantry Meals
Next, look at what you have and see if you can quickly come up with three meals based off what you have. For example, if you have a box of pasta noodles, a jar of pasta sauce and meatballs in your freezer – you have a meal of spaghetti and meatballs! Meal one is done!
Do you have a bag of rice, a bottle of BBQ sauce, a can of pineapple, and some chicken in your freezer? You can make some pineapple BBQ chicken and it’s delicious! Meal two is done!
Look at you! You are cruising right through this!
Mexican Food For The Win
Mexican food is always a big hit in our house and is great for easy pantry dinner recipes! How about making tacos for meal number three? Look in your freezer for ground beef or ground turkey so you can make the meat. If you don’t have a taco seasoning packet, then read this post, Make You Own Homemade Pantry Staples Series: Homemade Taco Seasoning, for how to make homemade taco seasoning.
This taco seasoning recipe uses basic cooking spices that you probably already have, and it’s delicious! I like to make my own, it’s cheaper, and it tastes so much better, so I don’t even buy taco seasoning packets anymore.
If you already have a taco seasoning packet, that would work great too! Now all you need is taco shells, tortillas, or a head of lettuce for the taco shells. You can even use tortilla chips and make nachos. Meal number three is done!
Way to go! See what I mean?! Once you get everything out in the open, it’s much easier to see what you have and it helps your meal planning go so much faster!
Keep putting together easy pantry dinner meals from what you have in your pantry! I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!
5 Easy Pantry Dinner Recipes I’m Making This Week
Wonder what I found in my pantry this week? I found a lot of stuff, some things were hiding way in the back that I forgot about! Here are the 5 easy pantry dinner recipes I’m serving my family this week from the food I found in my pantry.
1. Mac N Cheese and Hot Dogs
Yep, you read that right! I had 6 boxes of Mac N Cheese in my pantry and rather than go to the store for something else to cook, we are having a gourmet meal of Mac N Cheese and hot dogs!
Yummy! I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid this was my favorite meal! I know it’s not the healthiest, but it’s my favorite comfort food! I’ll have you know, I don’t serve this meal regularly, so this will be a special treat for my kids! Thankfully, my husband loves it too!
I plan to serve this alongside a green salad, and some fresh apple slices. Again, use what you have! If you have a bunch of bananas and a cucumber, serve sliced bananas and sliced up cucumbers alongside your Mac N Cheese. Done!
2. Lettuce Wrap Tacos
I found, in the corner of my freezer, a roll of ground turkey that I didn’t know I had. I don’t like turkey at all, but I can hide the taste of it by making Tacos, so that’s the plan!
I mentioned before that I like to make my taco seasoning – so I always have that on hand. Here is the recipe again – Homemade Taco Seasoning – just in case you don’t have a taco seasoning packet on hand.
I plan to serve my tacos on lettuce wraps because I have a head of iceberg lettuce in the refrigerator that needs to be used. Alongside our tacos I plan to make my Homemade Refried Beans which are delicious!
If you have not tried these before, you should! All they require is a can of pinto beans, sour cream, cheddar cheese and few spices. So yummy!
WANT EASY PARTY PLANNING?
3. Chili and Rice Casserole
When I was a kid, this was my other favorite meal. I learned much later as an adult that this was an extremely frugal meal to make! Chili and Rice Casserole is so yummy and I’m sure you family will love it.
In fact, one year for Easter, my family asked me to make this for our special Easter Meal because my brother was coming to visit. My brother, just like me, loves Chili and Rice Casserole and it sure was a special treat for him and my family!
Chili and Rice Casserole Ingredients:
- 2 Cups Cooked Rice (any kind – white or brown)
- 2 15 oz Cans Hormel Chili (any kind of Hormel Chili – spicy, original, with or without beans, etc)
- Tortilla Chips
- Half a block of melted Velvetta Cheese – cubed
- 1 Cup Milk
Chili and Rice Casserole Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350.
Cook the rice according to the package and add the cooked rice to make a base layer in a 9 x 13 pan. Next scoop the chili onto the rice and spread out evenly over the rice.
In a microwave safe bowl add the milk and cubed Velvetta cheese. Melt the cheese and stir by cooking for 1 minute increments in your microwave. Make sure to check on it frequently or it can overflow and make a huge mess in the microwave. Once completely melted, stir well and set aside.
Add a layer of tortilla chips over the rice and chili. Then pour the Velvetta over the top of the chili, rice, and chips, letting it ooze and seep down into all the cracks of the rice.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Use Coupons To Buy Chili
And enjoy! It’s so yummy and is a very frugal meal your family will love! The best part, canned Hormel Chili is often on sale at the grocery store and there are a lot of manufactures coupons that can be found for it. Save those coupons and buy when it’s on sale! Stock up when it’s at a rock bottom price and save in your stockpile!
Because this recipe is not using an fresh meat, it’s a great recipe to make during a pandemic when you can’t find meat in the store.
4. Pesto Chicken
Pesto Chicken is another one of our family favorites. Thankfully, I found a jar of pesto sauce in my pantry along with all my pasta sauces. You don’t need very much pesto – about ½ cup for this recipe – so a small jar is great!
Often, Barilla, has coupons for their jars of Pesto and is a great pantry staple item to stock up on when it’s on sale.
Check your freezer too! I also have a jar of Pesto that I buy in bulk at Costco, in my freezer! Either one works! Then, find some chicken in your freezer.
You can use any cut of chicken, but I’m going to use chicken breasts because that is what I have. You will need 2 small tomatoes or 1 big one, or even a handful of cherry tomatoes sliced in half.
This recipe also calls for Mozarella cheese. You can use shredded, or you can even use fresh mozzarella chunks cut up. Just use what you have! Make it work!
Dig out a box of pasta noodles – any kind work fine. I like to use Farfalle (bowtie) noodles because my kids love them! Again, pasta noodles are another great item to stockpile when you find a good sale and have a coupon.
Ingredients For Pesto Chicken:
- 2 Thinly Sliced Roma Tomatoes
- 1lb of Chicken Breasts – cut in half
- ½ Cup Pesto
- ¾ Cup Shredded Mozarella Cheese
- 1 Box Pasta Noodles
- ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
- 4 Tbs Butter
Directions to Make Pesto Chicken:
Preheat oven to 350.
Place your chicken breasts, cut in half, in a 9 x 13 greased pan. Spoon a little bit of pesto on top of each piece of chicken and spread it around covering the whole breast.
Add sliced tomato to cover all the chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
While the chicken is baking, cook the pasta noodles according to the package. Or, better yet – if you have an Instant Pot, you can cook them even easier and faster! It’s no secret, I love my Instant Pot – so much! If you don’t have one, you should get one for sure!
How To Make Noodles In Your Instant Pot
To make super fast noodles in your Instant Pot just pour in the noodles and fill with enough water to just barely cover the noodles. Add a pinch of salt and 1 Tbs of butter on top.
For cooking time, check the noodle box and divide the time in half + 2 minutes (so if your box says 12 minutes – cut in half to 6 +2 = 8 minutes of total cook time).
Set your Instant Pot to Pressure Cook for 8 minutes and you are set! Once they are finished, drain the noodles and toss with 4 Tbs of butter and ½ of cup of Parmesan cheese.
Serve the chicken alongside or on top of the noodles. Tastes great with a green salad as well!
5. Chicken Nugget Salad
If you are anything like me, I almost always have a big bag of chicken nuggets in my freezer for the kids. During this pandemic I’ve noticed that my grocery store has a lot of fresh produce.
WANT EASY PARTY PLANNING?
All of the canned goods, rice, and toilet paper are gone, but there is a ton of fresh produce! Which is hilarious! But, this means you can have a lot of healthy meals right now and a chicken nugget salad is a great idea!
I’ve struggled to find fresh meat in my grocery store, but have been able to think outside of the box and buy hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and bagged chicken. We don’t normally eat chicken nuggets for our main protein source, but in a pinch they can make for a very yummy salad, plus your kids will love it!
Chicken Nugget Salad Ingredients:
- 20-30 Frozen Chicken Nuggets – baked in the oven per directions
- Salad Fixings (Optional – just use what you have below):
- Tomato – chopped
- Celery – chopped
- Carrot – chopped
- Yellow & Red Peppers – chopped
- Cucumber – chopped
- Snap Peas – chopped
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Raisins or Cranberries
- Your Favorite Salad Dressing
Directions to Make Chicken Nugget Salad:
Cook the chicken nuggets in the oven or the microwave according to the package. Wash and chop your lettuce and whichever salad toppings you want to add to your salad. And there you go! An easy salad with an optional protein choice that your kids will love!
If you have the ingredients to make muffins, serve those alongside the salad! Super yummy!
There you have it! 5 easy pantry dinner recipes you can serve your family tonight. Or in a time of pandemic when the grocery store shelves are empty, or when you are needing so save extra money at the grocery store!