15 Pantry Staple Recipes

by Beth - Budget Bytes
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I’ve had an increase in requests for pantry staple recipes over the past week, mostly due to fears over the need for social isolation and possible shortages in the food supply. Whether this situation gets to that level or not, I figured it was a good idea to round up some pantry recipes because they are also useful for people who aren’t able to get to the grocery store often, or those who just prefer to shop less often. Use the printable grocery list below to keep the ingredients stocked for these 15 recipes, and you’ll always have something ready to cook no matter the situation!

A big plate of pasta with the title text overlay on the center of the image

What is a Pantry Recipe?

There are a lot of different opinions about what counts as a “pantry recipe” so I’m going to quickly define my criteria here. I’ve chosen to include recipes that call for pantry staples: room temperature stable ingredients and frozen or freezable foods. This allows more variety of ingredients (and vegetables!) while keeping a long storage life for the ingredients. Because of that, this recipe list is most useful for situations where electricity is still running, but fresh ingredients may not be easily accessible.

What Ingredients are Included in This Emergency Plan:

The recipes in this roundup include ingredients in these three categories:

  • Shelf stable at room temperature: oils, vinegars, flour, sugar, spices, herbs, rice, pasta, beans, and canned goods
  • Frozen goods: frozen vegetables
  • Fresh items that can be stored frozen: meat, cheese, butter, onions, ginger, jalapeños, and garlic

Freezing Fresh Pantry Staple Ingredients

Here are some general tips for freezing fresh items to extend their storage life:

Onions: dice the onions, separate them into 1 cup portions (about one onion-worth), and freeze in quart-sized freezer bags. Frozen onions can be added to most recipes straight from the freezer. For green onions, simply slice and place in a freezer bag, or empty jar, then stash in the freezer.

Jalapeños: Slice, freeze flat on a baking sheet covered in parchment, then transfer to a freezer bag once solid.

Garlic: peel and freeze in freezer bags. The garlic’s appearance will change slightly after thawing, but the flavor will still be great.

Ginger: Wash the ginger well, then freeze in a freezer bag. The frozen ginger can be easily grated into your recipe using a small-holed cheese grater, while still frozen, no need to peel. If you prefer to peel your ginger, simply peel before freezing.

Cheese: Cheese can be frozen either in block form or shredded. Make sure to wrap tightly to reduce air exposure. 

Meat: I prefer to divide meat into ½ lb. portions before freezing, since most of my recipes use about ½ pound of meat per recipe. Again, make sure to wrap tightly to prevent air exposure, which leads to freezer burn.

And always, always label and date everything you put into the freezer! :)

How Long Will The Ingredients and Recipes Last?

Because these recipes include some frozen goods, the minimum amount of time the ingredients can be stored before using is about 3 months. After that amount of time frozen ingredients slowly dry out, but may remain usable. For a more detailed list of the recommended freezer storage time is for different foods, check out this Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart from the FDA.

This pantry recipe list includes 15 recipes, so depending on how often you cook and how many people you’re feeding, purchasing all the ingredients in the list can last you for two weeks or more. For a single person who may only need to cook once every few days, stocking these ingredients can feed you for a month or more.

Notes About the Recipes

Next to each recipe, I’ll include notes about what ingredients, if any, to substitute in order to make this a “pantry recipe”. I’ll also indicate recipes that make freezer-friendly leftovers with an asterisk, so you can further stock your freezer and delay your next shopping trip. 

Red meat sauce in a skillet with a wooden spatula

Pantry Staple Recipes:

>>Click here to download the grocery list<<

One Pot Chili Pasta

This super hearty One Pot Chili Pasta is bursting with southwest chili flavor, protein, and fiber. It's a meal in a bowl that the whole family will love.
4.71 from 81 votes
$9.71 recipe / $1.08 serving Get the Recipe

One Pot Chili Pasta* or Cheesy Vegetarian Chili Mac* – These two recipes are essentially the same, one containing beef, the other containing extra beans. They meal prep well and freeze well for later!

Poor Man's Burrito Bowls

Close up overhead shot of a poor man's burrito bowl with melted cheese
These easy no-frills burrito bowls are super fast and affordable. They're the perfect satisfying weeknight meal for times when money is tight!
4.83 from 64 votes
$7.07 recipe / $1.18 serving Get the Recipe

Poor Man’s Burrito Bowls* – Rice, beans, salsa, and cheese is one of my favorite pantry meals. It’s so incredibly simple, yet it never gets old. There is a lot of room for customization here, as well. So check the post for a list of other ingredients you can add, if you have them on hand.

Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

A spoonful of lentil and pumpkin soup being lifted from the bowl
This Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup is super fast and easy, and will keep you warm from the inside out on chilly fall evenings!
4.74 from 95 votes
$3.55 recipe / $0.59 serving Get the Recipe

Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup* – This incredibly simple soup only requires a few ingredients, yet it still has big flavor. Serve with crackers or homemade bread (recipe below). 

One Pot Cheeseburger Pasta

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon
Cheeseburger Pasta is a fast and easy homemade version of hamburger helper that cooks all in one pot for easy cleanup!
4.56 from 96 votes
$5.03 recipe / $1.26 serving Get the Recipe

Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta* – Stretch a half pound of ground beef over four servings of this classic American comfort food.

Skillet Pineapple BBQ Chicken

A quick pan sauce drenches tender chicken thighs and thick pineapple slices in this easy Skillet Pineapple BBQ Chicken. BudgetBytes.com
A quick pan sauce drenches tender chicken thighs and thick pineapple slices in this easy Skillet Pineapple BBQ Chicken. 
4.94 from 61 votes
$9.12 recipe / $1.52 serving Get the Recipe

Skillet Pineapple BBQ Chicken – Serve over a bed of rice for an easy and quick meal. If you want more green, you can also serve it up with a size of oven roasted frozen broccoli.

The Best Weeknight Pasta Sauce

This rich and subtle pasta sauce is incredibly easy, which has earned it the title of The Best Weeknight Pasta Sauce in my house! BudgetBytes.com
This rich and subtle pasta sauce is incredibly easy, which has earned it the title of The Best Weeknight Pasta Sauce in my house!
4.91 from 32 votes
$4.35 recipe / $1.09 serving Get the Recipe

Weeknight Pasta Sauce* + Spaghetti – Nothing is more comforting than a big plate of pasta, and this simple sauce is incredibly easy. If you’re looking for a vegetarian version, check out my 5-Ingredient Butter Tomato Sauce.

Homemade Chili Recipe

Overhead view of a bowl full of chili with toppings and a spoon in the center.
This is the BEST homemade chili recipe is the ultimate comfort food and is made with simple ingredients like ground beef, beans, and tomatoes.
4.90 from 155 votes
$9.28 recipe / $1.55 serving Get the Recipe

Simple Homemade Chili* – A lot of options for variations listed in the blog post. You can either make your own homemade chili seasoning (included in this recipe) or use a packet of store-bought seasoning if you don’t have a well stocked spiced cabinet.

Sweet Chili Chicken Stir Fry Bowls

Plate of Sweet Chili Chicken Stir Fry
Sweet Chili Chicken Stir Fry Bowls use my favorite "formula" for keeping weeknight dinners simple and effortless. Customize the formula to make your own! 
4.75 from 20 votes
$10.20 recipe / $2.55 serving Get the Recipe

Sweet Chili Chicken Stir Fry Bowls – Use frozen broccoli florets in place of fresh. You can use regular white rice in place of jasmine, if you prefer. Use either a store-bought sweet chili sauce, or make a homemade sweet chili sauce.

Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala

A bowl of creamy Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala being eaten with a spoon and two pieces of naan on the side.
This super easy, ultra creamy, and heavily spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala will be your new favorite weeknight dinner! So much flavor, so little effort. 
4.83 from 188 votes
$4.10 recipe / $1.03 serving Get the Recipe

Cauliflower and Chickpea Masala – Substitute the heavy cream with full-fat canned coconut milk, and serve over rice.

One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice

Close up of One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice in the skillet.
This One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice is an easy and satisfying meal that the whole family will love. It also meal preps well for lunches all week! 
4.32 from 50 votes
$6.26 recipe / $1.57 serving Get the Recipe

One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice* – Frozen stir fry vegetables make this recipe not only easy, but totally pantry ready! 

Easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup

A bowl of Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup with two pieces of toasted bread and a black spoon in the middle.
This incredibly easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup takes only eight simple ingredients to deliver a bowl full of rich, bold flavor.
4.76 from 153 votes
$2.49 recipe / $0.62 serving Get the Recipe

Easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup* – Canned beans for the win! Serve with homemade focaccia rolls listed below.

Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli

Close up of a fork twirling some Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli on a black plate
Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli is a quick and easy all-in-one bowl dinner recipe with a rich, buttery, salty, and sweet sauce.
4.70 from 49 votes
$6.55 recipe / $1.63 serving Get the Recipe

Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli – If you can’t get out to pick up your favorite take out, make it at home! This easy and indulgent noodle stir fry will give you your fix.

Easy Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Close up overhead view of a bowl full of slow cooker white chicken chili
The slow cooker does all the work with this easy, flavorful, and healthy white chicken chili. This "dump and go" dinner will become a family favorite!
4.78 from 140 votes
$10.23 recipe / $1.71 serving Get the Recipe

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili* – If you don’t have a slow cooker, let the chili simmer over low heat for one hour on the stove top, or until the chicken is shreddable. 

Turkey Taco Skillet

Overhead view of turkey taco skillet next to tortilla chips, a bowl of sour cream, and toasted tortillas
This easy and versatile Turkey Taco Skillet takes about 20 minutes to make, is freezer friendly, and can be served several different ways.
4.69 from 32 votes
$6.71 recipe / $1.68 serving Get the Recipe

Turkey Taco Skillet* – Serve witch corn tortillas (freezable) and shredded cheese.

And in case you want some bread to serve with your soups or chilis:

No-Knead Focaccia Rolls

Focaccia Rolls
No kneading required for these focaccia rolls! The long, overnight fermentation develops the gluten with no effort from you! 
4.70 from 26 votes
$1.20 recipe / $0.10 serving Get the Recipe

No Knead Focaccia Rolls – the overnight fermentation means you don’t have to spend a lot of time or effort kneading this dough by hand!
If you enjoyed this list of recipes with the pre-made grocery list, make sure to check out the Budget Bytes Meal Plans!
Banner for Budget Bytes Meal Plans with recipes images in the background

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  1. I love when I receive your recIpes! This is the best website for good nutritious and econominal recipes, I have encountered so far! Keep posting them to me , please!

  2. I downloaded this pantry plan when you posted it. In November, I shopped for it, prepped any produce for the freezer as you suggest, and also added any sides, snacks and breakfasts and am all set for any emergency! (We always have leftovers for lunch.)  everything is stored separately from other pantry/freezer food so we don’t accidentally eat it. We could be snowed in for 2 weeks and we would be fine!  We have a snowstorm coming which could keep us home for a while and I love that I didn’t have to panic and run to the grocery store and yet we will be eating amazingly well!  If I don’t need to use this by March I plan on eating from it, and then replenishing before next winter. This has been a huge peace of mind for us! Thank you!

  3. I have printed and included all the above recipes in our meal plan. We are half way thru and our favourites so far are: Skillet BBQ Chicken and Curried Red Lentil Pumpkin Soup. We added bacon bits to the soup. Looking forward to cooking and eating the remaining recipes. Thanks for creating these recipes!

  4. These pantry recipe/staple posts have been so helpful! I did also really like the freezer-friendly options to save meals for later so they won’t go bad and also really liked the post for breakfast burritos but was also kind of hoping for more suggestions for pantry recipes for breakfast. I know the bulk of the recipes you post are geared towards lunch and dinner but some of the breakfast ones you’ve also posted are really great. And I do really love the breakfast burrito recipe but in terms of buying in bulk/pantry items, it’s kind of difficult because it requires so many eggs; I live in an area that relies on public transit so I don’t have a car, and it’s hard to stock up on everything on my infrequent grocery trips while also stocking up on two dozen eggs… which are at risk of breaking while I transport them home! Any other suggestions for pantry-type breakfast recipes would definitely be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!

    1. Maybe lots of grain based pantry staples might help. Think Baked Oatmeals (Pumpkin, Apple, Blueberry or Banana) or Pancakes (Sweet Potato, Pineapple/Coconut, Berry). Also, quick breads or muffins. There are so many different possibilities. Add a protein or a healthy shake and you’ve got yummy filling breakfasts. I always freeze leftover portions (my favorite is apple/pecan baked oatmeal with a couple slices of bacon). I hope this helps?

    2. Maybe you could use an egg substitute? It may not be as practical as fresh eggs but I think it would be just as nutritional.