10 Easy Dinners Made with Pantry Staples

Don't want to leave the house for that one missing ingredient you need for dinner? Never fear! Pantry dinners are here! These recipes are made with staples we commonly have in our pantries, fridges, and freezers for an easy dinner at home.

Oh winter! The bad weather, the cold, and the general hibernation that it encourages in all of us—it’s enough to make you want to stock up, cook big batches of food, and stay indoors.

Or at the very least it’s enough to make you not want to make a trip to the supermarket for just one missing ingredient so you can make dinner.

Tonight, let’s stay in and make the best of what we’ve got using staples from the pantry, fridge, and freezer! Here are a few of our ideas — what are your own go-to pantry dinners?

Pasta with Tuna and Arugula

This classic Italian combo comes together using canned tuna packed in olive oil, some pantry staples (pasta, red pepper flakes) and a couple handfuls of fresh arugula. Spinach or any other quick-cooking green works here, too.

Chicken Breasts with Mustard Cream Sauce

There are not a whole lot of ingredients in this dish – it relies on pantry staples like capers and butter and flour and white wine. If you’re the type who always keeps a few chicken breasts in the freezer for emergencies, this recipe is perfect.

Shrimp Fried Rice

Pull some shrimp and peas out of the freezer and get out the eggs and veggies from the fridge. You’re on the way to shrimp fried rice for dinner. Got leftover chicken or pork? Swap that out instead.

Turkey Chili

Canned beans make short work of this dish, and ground turkey is often found in the depths of the freezer. You can also substitute ground chicken or ground beef – whatever you’ve got, pull it out and turn it into this chili!

Classic Croque Madame Ham and Cheese Sandwich

If you have some sliced ham in your fridge along with some eggs and bread, then you’re most of the way toward this comfort food. Swap in any lunchmeat you happen to have (turkey is fine!).

Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic Herbs and Parmesan

This kind of dish is the definition of quick and easy, and it’s also sometimes the kind of dish we forget about because it’s so simple and delicious. If you have any leftover meat from another meal, toss it in at the end. This dish is also great with an egg on top!


Here’s what to make when you have random bits of things left in the fridge or pantry—quesadillas. Cheese and tortillas are easy to come by, and then add mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, leftover shredded chicken or pork, black olives or anything else you like.

How To make Crepes

The beauty of this recipe us that the batter is easy to pull together, and the crepes themselves can veer in a sweet or savory direction depending on what you have on hand. Worst case scenario? Defrost some frozen berries for a sweet dinnertime treat.

Sesame Noodle Salad

Honey and soy sauce come together for the dressing, along with some sesame oil, and peanuts, green onions round out the noodles—which can easily work with spaghetti or angel hair pasta. If you don’t have some of the fresh ingredients, swap them out for what you have!

Serving of Easy Hamburger Soup

Ground beef (pulled from your freezer stash) cooks together with onions, carrots celery, and canned tomatoes. Add some pasta or rice to make it even more filling.

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Carrie Havranek

Carrie Havranek is an Associate Editor of Simply Recipes and lives in Easton, Pennsylvania. She goes out of her way for farmers' markets, a crazy new ingredient, yoga, and a walk in nature. Her first cookbook, Tasting Pennsylvania, will be published in spring 2019.

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  1. Natalie Williams

    Hahahaha Eugene . . . for so long, that was the truth! Safeway has it in their ready made salad section these days. I think it’s their Organics brand!

  2. Eugene Hartke

    Arugula…that one missing ingredient.

10 Easy Dinners Made with Pantry Staples10 Easy Dinners Made with Pantry Staples