36 Easy Recipes Using Pantry Staples (for Emergencies & Busy Weeknights)

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If you’re trying to plan what eating at home might look like for the next few weeks, I thought I’d share what my family is stocking up on in our pantry, as well as some easy recipe ideas for how to use them!

dry ingredients and canned goods

Recipes Using Pantry Ingredients

If you want to skip my shopping list and go straight to the recipes, click on the links below to jump:

My Go-To Pantry Staples

Below you’ll find a list of everything I like to keep on hand in my pantry. You can download a convenient shopping list here if you want to print it off and take it to the store with you!

pantry shopping list jpg

The amount you need to buy of these items will vary based on what you already have on hand, and the number of people in your home, so I’ve only listed the ingredients I keep in stock– not necessarily the amount you need of each one.

Fresh Produce

To go along with the pantry items on this list, I like to keep some fresh produce on hand to complete our meals. If you don’t have access to fresh produce, frozen will work in many cases, too. (Keep in mind that you can freeze things like chopped onions, carrots, and celery in easy portions for later, so save anything you don’t use right away.)

Here are my favorites:

  • Lemons (or limes)
  • Apples or pears
  • Bananas
  • Fresh spinach
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Medjool dates (I’m seriously stocked up on these)

Dinner Recipes

red lentil soup in white bowl

Perfect Red Lentil Soup

30 minutes
This creamy Red Lentil Soup is quick & easy to prepare, featuring protein-rich lentils and a hint of spice.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Dry red lentils, canned coconut milk, and canned tomato paste.

You’ll also need some basic fresh produce, like onions, carrots, and celery, but you can use frozen if you need to. (This soup also freezes well!

instant pot spaghetti with tongs

Instant Pot Spaghetti (with or without meat!)

30 minutes
Here's how to make perfect Instant Pot Spaghetti two ways. You can make this with a classic meat sauce, or as a vegetarian dish, in under 30 minutes. It's the easiest one-pot meal!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Dry spaghetti, jarred marinara sauce, and dry red lentils.

With this recipe you literally dump these ingredients into the Instant Pot a press a button. If you want to use ground beef instead of the lentils, there are instructions for doing that, too.

slow cooker pumpkin soup in black bowls

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Soup

2 hours 15 minutes
This slow cooker pumpkin soup is an easy and comforting meal, made with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Only a few minutes of prep work required!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Canned Pumpkin, coconut milk, and maple syrup.

Slow cooker pumpkin soup is an easy “dump” meal that’s packed with flavor and nutrients, thanks to the canned pumpkin. Serve it with crunchy pumpkin seeds on top!

vegan curry recipe

Vegan Coconut Curry (an Easy Weeknight Dinner!)

25 minutes
This Coconut Curry recipe makes an easy weeknight dinner. I love serving it over quinoa as a complete source of plant-based protein, and you can add in any vegetables
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Canned coconut milk, curry powder, spices, maple syrup, and rice or quinoa, for serving.

Coconut curry makes an easy weeknight meal, and you can use up any vegetables you happen to have on hand– fresh or frozen!

quinoa vegan burrito burrito bowl with lime overhead view

Instant Pot Quinoa Burrito Bowls (Vegan!)

25 minutes
These Instant Pot Vegan Quinoa Burrito Bowls are an easy and healthy make-ahead meal loaded with fiber and protein. 
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Dry quinoa, salsa, canned black beans, and spices.

These quinoa burrito bowls are the perfect recipe for a pressure cooking beginner. All you have to do is press a button and walk away!

quinoa black bean salad

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

30 minutes
STARCH  |  Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free
This Quinoa & Black Bean Salad is loaded with fresh vegetables and tossed in a spicy lime dressing, for a Southwestern flare. It's loaded with plant-based protein and makes an easy packed lunch or vegetarian dinner.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Dry quinoa, canned black beans, and spices.

This is probably my favorite make-ahead salad of all time. It’s super flavorful, and it lasts in the fridge for an easy packed lunch.

instant pot vegan chili

Instant Pot Vegan Chili

40 minutes
This Instant Pot Vegan Chili is as fast & easy as it gets. Just "dump" the ingredients in the pot, press a button, and walk away! Ready in about 30 minutes.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  canned black beans, canned kidney beans, diced tomatoes, dry red lentils, and spices.

Vegan chili is a hearty meal made with plant-based protein, and it uses the convenience of canned beans. I love to serve this with my vegan cornbread— which technically isn’t made with corn, but it tastes like it is.

Vegan Tuscan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce in skillet with tongs

Vegan Tuscan Pumpkin Pasta

15 minutes
This Fall-inspired pasta sauce marries pumpkin and tomato sauce, for an unexpectedly delicious combination! Don't be surprised when you want to lick your bowl clean. Dairy-free & ultra-tasty!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  canned pumpkin, crushed or strained tomatoes, coconut milk, and spices.

This pumpkin pasta sauce is made with canned pumpkin and strained tomato– which is similar to crushed tomatoes or canned tomato sauce, if that’s what you have on hand. It’s addictive over your favorite pasta!

vegan chipotle burrito bowl

Chipotle Burrito Bowls (in the Instant Pot!)

55 minutes
These Chipotle Burrito Bowls are an easy one-pot meal in the Instant Pot. The black beans & brown rice cook from scratch at the same time! No soaking required.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  dry black beans, dry brown rice, and spices.

Make affordable Chipotle burrito bowls at home, and then serve them with a variety of toppings for a build-your-own-bowl situation!

vegan meatloaf sliced on a plate with thyme

Vegan Meatloaf (Easy Lentil Loaf)

1 hour
This Vegan Meatloaf is a delicious vegetarian main entrée that will impress your guests! Made with lentils, walnuts, and oats, it's hearty & filling. You'll love how this recipe doesn't get soggy in the middle.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  dry green lentils (or canned), quick cooking oats, ground flax, tomato paste, and spices.

When you need some vegetarian comfort food, this “meatloaf” is a hit! I love the combination of textures and flavors.

Instant Pot lentil soup in a white bowl

Instant Pot Lentil Soup (Vegan)

40 minutes
This healthy Lentil Soup is as easy as it gets-- simply pour the ingredients into an electric pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, and press a button. With no added oil, and loads of vegetables included, it makes a nutritious vegan or vegetarian meal.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  dry green lentils (or canned), diced tomatoes, and spices.

This lentil soup is hearty and filling, and takes no time to throw together in your pressure cooker! Stove top directions are included as well.

vegan mac n cheese recipe with cashew sauce

The BEST Vegan Mac and Cheese (A Fan Favorite!)

40 minutes
This Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe is tossed in a quick & easy cashew "cheese" sauce, and is as fast to prepare as the boxed version. With over 200 reviews, it's become a fan favorite!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  cashews, dry pasta, nutritional yeast, and spices.

This Vegan Mac n’ Cheese comes together in minutes! You can blend a handful of ingredients in your blender as the pasta cooks, then simply stir it all together for a comforting dish.

lentil salad in a bowl

Lentil Salad (Perfect for Make-Ahead Meals!)

20 minutes
This Lentil Salad makes an easy packed lunch! It's packed with protein and loaded with veggies, for a flavor-packed make-ahead meal.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Dry green lentils, vinegar, and spices.

This lentil salad is hearty, yet refreshing, and will last in the fridge for several days after you make it, so it’s perfect for meal prepping ahead of time.

vegan chickpea salad in lunch containers

Vegan Chickpea Salad

15 minutes
This Vegan Chickpea Salad is an easy make-ahead meal, filled with plant-based protein. I love how quick and filling it is!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Canned chickpeas and spices.

This Vegan Chickpea Salad is filled with fresh Greek-inspired flavors, and takes just minutes to stir together!

sun dried tomato pasta salad

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad with Chickpeas

25 minutes
This Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad is an easy make-ahead meal that's loaded with plant-based protein. Made with lentil pasta and tossed with a flavorful sun-dried tomato dressing.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Canned chickpeas, dry pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, and spices.

When you pair sun-dried tomatoes with pasta, it’s hard to go wrong flavor-wise. You can stir in any veggies you happen to have on hand, to make this salad nutrient-packed!

black bean burger with sweet potato fries

Vegan Black Bean Burgers (Veggie Burgers)

45 minutes
This Vegan Black Bean Burger recipe is easy to make, without a mushy middle! Made with sweet potato instead of egg, they are packed with fiber and plant-based protein.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Canned Black beans, rolled oats or oat flour, BBQ sauce, and spices.

When I make veggie burgers, I want them to be flavorful and EASY to prepare. These are both! You don’t even need to break out the food processor to make them.

Breakfast Recipes Using Pantry Staples

gluten free granola on pan

Healthy Granola (Oil-free!)

30 minutes
This healthy granola is the perfect make-ahead breakfast or crunchy snack. I love that it's oil-free and naturally sweetened! This recipe makes roughly
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Rolled oats, shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, maple syrup, and spices.

Homemade granola is a great make-ahead meal, so it makes for an easy breakfast. Serve it with homemade almond milk and fresh or frozen fruit.

granola bars on cooling rack

Best Homemade Granola Bars

15 minutes
Homemade granola bars are quick & easy to make at home, and require only 4 simple ingredients! You can make them in just minutes, and add any extras you like to customize the flavor.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Rolled oats, peanut butter, honey or maple syrup.

Homemade granola bars require just 4 ingredients that your probably have on hand! Feel free to mix up the nut butter you use, along with any add-ins, to change the flavor.

instant pot steel cut oats with blueberries

Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats (Fool-Proof Method!)

29 minutes
STARCH | Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Vegan
Here's how to make steel cut oats in the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker for a quick and easy warm breakfast. They're naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, and are loaded with fiber and plant-based protein. 
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Steel cut oats, and any toppings you like.

This is the only way I cook steel cut oats now. Just add the oats and water, press a button and walk away!

chia pudding with cranberries and pecans

Chia Pudding Recipe

20 minutes
NUT/SEED/DRIED FRUIT  |  Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Vegan
Chia pudding makes an easy make-ahead breakfast that's dairy-free and gluten-free. It takes just minutes to stir together, and you can top it in a variety of fun ways!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Chia seeds, almond milk or rice milk.

Chia pudding is an easy and filling breakfast, loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. You can flavor it however you’d like to!

showing texture of chocolate chia pudding

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding (only 4 ingredients!)

20 minutes
This Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding is a quick & healthy breakfast, that tastes like chocolate pudding!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Chia seeds, cacao powder, almond milk or rice milk, and maple syrup.

Chocolate chia pudding is like having a rich chocolate dessert, for breakfast or a snack! You can sweeten this one with fruit or maple syrup.

vegan overnight oats with almond milk

Vegan Overnight Oats (Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast!)

5 minutes
Starch |  Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Vegan
Vegan overnight oats are an easy make-ahead breakfast, made with dairy-free almond milk. You can add in chia seeds, nuts, or any fruit you like to change up your mornings, and they are ready in no time!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Rolled oats, maple syrup, and almond milk.

Overnight oats make an easy meal prep option, if you don’t mind eating oatmeal more like a chilled bowl of cereal. You can get creative with the toppings, using frozen fruit, cinnamon, or crunchy walnuts.

almond flour waffles with syrup

Crispy Almond Flour Waffles

25 minutes
These Almond Flour Waffles are naturally gluten-free and grain-free, made with protein-packed almond flour. They are super-filling!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need:  Almond flour, olive oil, maple syrup, baking powder, and eggs (or tapica starch for an egg-free version).

Almond flour waffles are extra-filling, thanks to the natural fat in almonds, and you can make these ahead for an easy freezer waffle. My kids love these!

Dessert Recipes

black bean brownies stacked with blue background

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

40 minutes
This is the best black bean brownie recipe you'll ever try. No eggs, flour, or dairy, and they don't taste "healthy" at all.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Canned black beans, coconut sugar, chocolate chips, and ground flax.

If you’re stocking up on black beans, you might as well make the most of it with these rich & fudgy brownies!

Vegan Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies with a glass of milk

Vegan Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies

30 minutes
An easy vegan cookie that is loaded protein, fiber and minerals thanks to the addition of chickpeas.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Canned chickpeas, coconut sugar, oat flour.

You can’t even tell there are chickpeas in these cookies, but they act as a great binder without using eggs, and keep these cookies moist.

aqufaba chocolate mousse with a spoon

Chocolate Aquafaba Mousse (Vegan!)

30 minutes
This aquafaba mousse is easy to make, with only 3 ingredients. It's unbelievably light and fluffy, without using dairy or eggs.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Liquid leftover from canned chickpeas, chocolate chips, cream of tartar.

If you’re already opening up a can of chickpeas, you might as well make the most of the liquid in the can, too! It makes the most amazingly fluffy vegan chocolate mousse.

chocolate peanut butter bars stacked

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (5 ingredients!)

15 minutes
These Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars are a quick & easy dessert, made with just 5 ingredients.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Peanut butter, cacao powder, coconut oil, almond flour, and maple syrup.

These bars are a staple in my home because we always have these ingredients on hand! They are rich & decadent, so be warned– they go fast!

chocolate pots de creme on white surface

Chocolate Pots De Creme (Egg-free!)

3 hours 15 minutes
Chocolate Pots de Crème are a rich chocolate dessert, reminiscent of chocolate mousse-- only denser and more decadent. This version is dairy-free & egg-free to suit special dietary needs.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Raw cashews, coconut oil, cacao powder, maple syrup, and vanilla.

Who knew that one of the most decadent desserts can be made with simple pantry staples? This is my show-stopping dessert that I made for parties and guests. It’s always a hit!

Staples You can Make at Home:

how to make almond milk recipe pouring into glass

How to Make Almond Milk (Better than Store-Bought!)

10 minutes
This easy Almond Milk recipes is made with just 2 ingredients, and is ready in 10 minutes or less! It tastes SO MUCH BETTER than the store-bought kind, without preservatives or added sugar.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Almonds.

It takes just minutes to make your own almond milk at home, and it tastes better than store bought! I recommend keeping a nut milk bag on hand to make this easily. (Try my 2-Minute Almond Milk to skip the need for straining.)

oat milk ingredients in glass bowls

How to Make Oat Milk

5 minutes
Here's how to make Oat Milk at home, using just 4 ingredients. This dairy-free milk can be used for coffee, cereal, and smoothies. 
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Rolled oats.

I’ve tested this method to help you make it as NOT slimy as possible, and it’s the cheapest non-dairy milk option around!

two glasses of hemp milk

Hemp Milk

10 minutes
Hemp milk is an easy dairy-free alternative with a complete source of plant-based protein. I love how it's nut-free and quick to prepare!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Hemp hearts and dates or maple syrup, for sweetness.

Hemp hearts are a complete source of plant-based protein, and make a super-creamy milk that you don’t have to strain.

homemade almond butter in a jar

How To Make Almond Butter (No Added Oil!)

30 minutes
Here's how to make almond butter using your food processor or blender. No added oil required!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Almonds.

You can make your own almond butter using only 1 ingredient! You just need patience as they break down in your food processor.

peanut butter on toast

Homemade Peanut Butter (No Oil!)

5 minutes
Here's how to make peanut butter at home, using no added oil. It takes less than 5 minutes to make from start to finish and is silky smooth!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Peanuts.

You can make peanut butter at home in just about 5 minutes, without added oil or sugar. It tastes amazing!

homemade ketchup in a jar

Homemade Ketchup (5-minute recipe!)

5 minutes
This Homemade Ketchup recipe is made in a blender in just 5 minutes! No need to simmer it on the stove, and it's made healthy without white sugar. Paleo & Vegan.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Tomato paste, dates, vinegar, mustard, and spices.

This homemade ketchup takes just 5 minutes to make, and it tastes amazing!

tahini in a glass jar with spoon

How to Make Tahini (in 10 minutes!)

10 minutes
Here's how to make tahini, with only 1 ingredient. No oil needed!
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Sesame seeds.

Tahini is a staple in my life– I use it for my favorite Lemon Tahini Dressing and Tahini Dill dressing, not to mention hummus for snacking!

hand dipping carrot into hummus

How to Make Hummus (in 5 minutes!)

5 minutes
This is the BEST hummus recipe! It's quick & easy, made with chickpeas, tahini, and lemon juice. All you need is 5 minutes of time to make it.
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Pantry Ingredients You’ll Need: Tahini, canned chickpeas, and spices.

You can make a creamy and fluffy hummus in just 5 minutes using pantry staples! It makes a great dip for crackers and veggies.

I hope this collection of recipes will be helpful for you in the near future. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you make!

Reader Feedback: What are your go-to pantry meals on a busy weeknight?

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Comments

laura

THIS IS AMAZING! thank you!

Mui

Thanks very much! This comes in so handy in this trying time.

Jody Johnson

Thank you so much! I have been using your recipes for a little while now, and these recipes have really taken so much stress off of some of my meal planning around homeschooling four children! Thank you so much for all your hard work–what a gift to be able to have a forerunner as yourself helping people have healthier recipes that are delicious and easy to prepare! You are doing a great work, and now how you have compiled these recipes under “emergency” or busy weeknight is just so very thoughtful! My children are learning more how to be cognizant of the healthier versions of things, and my fourteen year old son knows that there is some “secret” healthy ingredient in snacks…but he smiles and enjoys them–and a mother who can whip it up quickly thanks to you! Our family season now is difficult, and one of the burdens of meal preparations is lifted a bit because of all your good efforts! I do really appreciate all of your labors of love in this website!

Pat

Love this format. It’s very handy.

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