Cooking w Pantry Staples Main Image

Cooking with Pantry Staples

Self-quarantine and social isolation are difficult enough as it is, but having to make three meals a day on top of it is more difficult than anyone imagined. Not being able to make quick, frequent trips to the grocery store or pop out to your favorite restaurant whenever you want is less than ideal for many people who aren’t necessarily used to finding their way around the kitchen.

However, cooking at home can be simpler, easy, and potentially even pleasant when you have various pantry staples on hand. You certainly do not have to survive on pasta, rice and canned corn for the duration of this shelter-in-place era in our lives. In addition to the fresh fruits, veggies and dairy products you should try to keep in the fridge, here is a list of “go-to” non-perishable staples to keep stocked in your pantry, and a few recipes to make meal-prep a cinch when you’re short on time (and/or motivation!)


Pantry Staples

Brown rice, quinoa, farro, and/or barley
Potatoes, sweet potatoes
Onions and garlic
Canned beans
Canned broth
Bread crumbs
Red and white wine

Jarred marinara sauce
Canned tomatoes
Nuts and nut butter
Balsamic vinegar
Nutritional yeast
Olive oil
Canned fish (tuna, salmon, anchovies, sardines)
Salt, pepper, and spices

Freezer Staples:
Mixed berries
Frozen vegetables (broccoli, peas, spinach, cauliflower)
Frozen fish
Chicken breasts, thighs, and/or whole chicken

Five Easy Pantry Meals

Lunches and dinners seem to be the most time-consuming, as those are the meals we have to “cook”. Here are five easy, flavorful meals for you to create using the pantry staples above. Give them a try and voila! You’ve gotten through a whole week of simple, stress-free meals with the family!

Canned Salmon Cakes

Canned salmon is a great source of protein and essential omega 3 fatty acids. It is just as nutritious and also less expensive than the fresh variety.

Ingredients: canned salmon or tuna, oats, quinoa, panko, egg, lemon, mustard, turmeric, greens

Recipe: Just combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl, form into patties and cook in a skillet.

Pull-From-The-Pantry Puttanesca

Pull from the Pantry Puttanesca

Another awesome way to get protein and omega-3 fats from your pantry is to grab some high-quality anchovy fillets and get cooking!

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 garlic clove – thinly sliced, 2 anchovy fillets- chopped, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1 cup dry white wine, 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes- drained, 1 (4.2-ounce) can Spanish sardines (such as Matiz España), 1/4 cup chopped jarred olives, 2 tablespoons drained nonpareil capers, 1 teaspoon chopped dried parsley, 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti

Heat oil in a skillet over low; add garlic, and cook, stirring often, until brown, about 3 minutes. Add anchovies, and, cook, stirring constantly, until anchovies melt into oil, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Stir in red pepper. Increase heat to medium, and stir in wine. Cook until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes; break up using a wooden spoon. Bring sauce to a low simmer. Add sardines, olives, capers, and parsley. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and adjust, if needed. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Toss spaghetti with tomato sauce, adding reserved cooking liquid as needed to reach desired consistency. Serve immediately.

Basque Garlic Soup


This mouthwatering bowl of garlicky, smoky broth, filled with tendrils of eggs and thickened with bread is infused with an entire head of garlic. It comes together in under an hour and tastes even better the day after it’s made.

4 ounces crusty bread, 1/2 cup olive oil- divided, 1 garlic head (about 12 cloves)- peeled and finely chopped (feel free to use jarred garlic if you are sticking to pantry items), 1 tablespoon smoked Paprika (Spanish if you have it), 8 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 3 large eggs- beaten

Toast bread/baguette. Heat 7 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add bread pieces, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, turning often to allow the bread to toast and soak up oil, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove bread, and set aside. Wipe pot clean. Add garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot. Cook over medium-high, stirring constantly until garlic is golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in paprika. Add broth and salt; bring to a boil. Add bread to pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and maintain a simmer. Add vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up bread, until flavors meld, about 25 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed. When ready to serve, bring soup to a simmer over medium-high. Stirring constantly, slowly pour beaten eggs into hot soup. If any large pieces of bread remain, cut with kitchen scissors, or break apart with a spoon. Serve hot.

Orzo & Chickpeas w/Turmeric-Ginger


Feeling like you need some relaxation and a restorative meal? This tea-based broth, studded with chickpeas and pasta from the pantry will be sure to leave you feeling refreshed with a new-found Zen!

3 cups water, 4 single-serving turmeric-ginger tea bags, 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, 3 tablespoons lime juice, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas- drained and rinsed, 1 cup cooked orzo or other small pasta; optional chili-garlic sauce for serving

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a teapot or small saucepan over high; remove from heat. Add tea bags, coconut milk, and lime juice; cover and steep 5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags; stir in salt and fish sauce. Bring just to a simmer over medium. Remove from heat. Divide chickpeas and orzo evenly between 2 bowls. Pour hot tea mixture evenly into bowls; serve immediately with lime wedges and desired toppings.

Pasta w/Roasted Cauliflower, Crispy Capers


This pantry-friendly comfort dish is perfect for this in-between weather when it’s not yet spring and there is still a nip in the air.

8 ounces dried rigatoni, 1 bag frozen cauliflower or 1 medium head cauliflower if available- cut into small florets, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/3 cup olive oil- divided, 3 tablespoons capers- rinsed, 2 tablespoons jarred garlic or 3 garlic cloves- thinly sliced if available, 4 anchovy fillets- roughly chopped, Pinch of crushed red pepper, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 2 tablespoons dried parsley, 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided, plus more for serving if available

Preheat oven to 450°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until package directions for al dente, about 10 minutes; drain and reserve about 1 cup cooking water. Toss cauliflower with salt, black pepper, and half of oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer; roast in preheated oven until deeply golden brown, about 25 minutes, tossing halfway through to ensure even browning. When cauliflower is about 5 minutes from being done, heat remaining olive oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium-high. Add capers, and cook, spooning hot oil over capers, until crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove capers with a slotted spoon, and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels. Reduce heat to medium; add garlic, anchovies, and red pepper. Cook until garlic is pale golden and anchovies have melted into oil, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pasta, roasted cauliflower, lemon zest, parsley, and 1/2 cup cooking water to skillet; toss to coat until glossy. Remove from heat, and add 2 tablespoons cheese. Tossing pasta constantly, add additional cooking water as needed for sauce to reach desired consistency. Top pasta with crispy capers, remaining 2 tablespoons cheese and serve.
The more we, as a community, have to avoid going to the grocery store, the more practical these shelf-stable superstars are becoming. And as we look ahead to our “new normal”, we are happy to help you learn fun, easy and delicious ways to incorporate those oft-forgotten pantry staples.


Baum, Isadora. “You Can Make a Million Cheap, Healthy Meals with These 11 Pantry Staples”. Website November 4, 2019.

Gold, Betty. “These Are the Kitchen Staples We’re Stocking up on—Plus 25 Family-Friendly Recipes You Can Make With Them”. Website March 17, 2020.

Hallinan, Bridget. “14 Recipes You Can Make Using Pantry Staples”. Website March 16, 2020.