Raiding the pantry? These recipes for your at-home family dinners are simple, satisfying, and delicious.
We all love to cozy up and cook something healthy and delicious for our families—but now that we’re all hunkered down for longer than expected it’s left many of us trying to quickly utilize fresh produce while also making the most of the food we have in our pantry. The good news? Cooking while quarantined or social distancing doesn’t have to be overly complicated and can still hit all the notes with flavors even the kiddos will enjoy.
Many of the pantry staples we have stocked up on can help us create delicious and comforting meals for the whole family. And while we’re finding solace in our homes while we navigate the everchanging Covid-19 health crisis, food that not only nourishes us but also brings us joy to cook and share together is just what we need.
Whether it’s canned beans (hello, winner!), crushed tomatoes, jars of pesto or olives, grains, pasta, canned fish, and rice—mixed with some staples from fresh items you may have in the fridge—we’ve curated some mouthwatering recipes that should keep everyone at the table happy.
There’s nothing more comforting than sitting at the table to share a one-pot brunch dish that utilizes canned chickpeas, tomato paste, and prosciutto (or bacon, ham, or even salami) along with baked eggs. Serve with toast, pita, or even some leftover quinoa or grains you have in the fridge. This recipe serves two but you can add more eggs if you’re feeding a crowd.
Many cultures have their versions of savory grains for breakfast and they can be a great way to kick off the day and keep bellies full well into the day. This recipe is founded on an ingredient most of us have in our pantry—oats. Mixed with garlic, mushrooms (or whatever veggies you may have to use in your fridge) it’s then topped with perfectly jammy eggs for a boost of protein.
If mornings at your house are slightly chaotic with kiddos ready for homeschooling activities and everyone trying to settle into new routines, these overnight oats are a welcome treat. Made with staples like nut butter, yogurt or milk and whichever chopped fruit you have, the result is a creamy delicious breakfast that almost feels like dessert! A surefire win to kick-start the day.
Sitting down to a bowl of homemade soup is a craveable moment for all of us. Classic broccoli & cheddar gets an upgrade and boost of flavor with the additions of sautéed garlic and a hint of heat from red pepper flakes. If you don’t have fresh broccoli you’re trying to utilize, sub in frozen here too. Double the batch and you’ll have leftovers you can freeze for a future cozy night in.
Making up a batch of grains that can be used in multiple ways is always a good idea. This Green Goddess Bowl starts with cooked quinoa and uses spiced-roasted chickpeas which add a definitive crunch alongside veggies to add a further boost of color and flavor. Don’t have fresh tomatoes? Add sun-dried instead. Sub cucumbers for olives. You’ll find that this is a flavorful recipe that can be adapted based on what you have at hand and also keeps well in the fridge.
White beans are a pantry favorite and whether you have Cannellini, Navy, or Great Northern, they’ll work well with this roasted and charred broccoli recipe. The addition of anchovies may seem strange but they give the dish a savory complexity that balances well with nutty Parmesan and zesty lemon. Eat as is or top with a crispy fried egg for another layer of flavor.
Consider these adult chicken tenders—breaded chicken cutlets can turn a humble chicken breast into something with the power to transform lunch or dinner. Once you’ve nailed this basic recipe you can riff on it a number of ways. Top with marinara and mozzarella for at-home chicken parm, pair with slaw, pickles, and a drizzle of hot honey for an A+ crispy chicken sandwich, or cut into strips and top your favorite salad for added crunch and flavor.
Whenever we read about a one-pot dish it’s always welcomed in our house—the last thing we need are more dishes to clean once we finish up eating. This comforting chicken and rice dish leans into Southeast Asian flavors with ginger, soy, and garlic but the real star of the show is the easy-to-make peanut sauce that you’ll totally fall in love with. We recommend making an extra batch to use on grain bowls, fish, or even as a sauce for homemade burger night.
Those frozen chicken thighs in your freezer are an excellent choice for braised and one-pot dinners that come together with other pantry basics to create a flavorful family meal. Cans of white beans (chickpeas could work here too) and tomatoes are amped up with dried spices like oregano and red pepper flakes and a handful of fresh greens like spinach or kale to create a hearty sauce that tastes as if it simmered on the stove all day.
Never before have we appreciated the convenience of a bag of flash-frozen shrimp in our freezer as much as we do now. It’s the perfect protein to use as a base for a variety of dishes. This lemon-garlic recipe sways into scampi territory and pairs with whatever your heart (or pantry) desires—fluffy rice, creamy polenta or grits, the last of that crusty sourdough from your local bakery or even a humble piece of toast.
Sometimes you just need the comfort of a bowl of pasta and if you’ve been leaning into lots of tomato-based sauces (like we have) you may be ready for something new in the rotation. A vibrant green pesto sauce is made from kale (or spinach) with pistachios, garlic, and Parm. It’s simple, satisfying and its creamy texture feels like a luxurious treat despite its straightforward list of ingredients. Spaghetti is used here but you can sub in any shape of pasta or even gnocchi.
Gone are the days when pasta salad meant a big bowl of mayo-laden soggy pasta on the picnic table. Perfect for utilizing those jars in your pantry, this colorful recipe mixes up the bold flavors of sun-dried tomatoes, canned or jarred artichoke hearts, white beans and any greens or herbs you may have on hand. Jarred pesto brings it all together to create a family-style dish that’s as good cold as it is straight off the stovetop.
Some steer away from large format meats as they seem like a ton of work but they are mostly a prep-set-and-forget type of activity. Use that pork butt or shoulder in your freezer and rub with Momofuku-inspired Bo Ssäm spices and then let it cook low and slow all day while you read, hang, play with your family. Once it’s out of the oven the pairing options are endless. Serve in lettuce cups with kimchi and spicy sauce, use in tacos or sandwich buns with creamy slaw. You can even create your own BBQ-style pork pizza for something the kids will surely love.
High on everyone’s list of favorite comfort foods is Chicken Pot Pie. This comforting dish has lots of room to improvise and can make use of fresh veggies on hand or even that bag of frozen peas and carrots you weren’t sure you’d find a use for. Chicken breasts or thighs both work well and if you don’t have puff pastry in the freezer you could even use store-bought biscuit dough to make your own dumplings on top. Either way, it’s creamy, delicious and feels like a culinary hug.
Often a favorite for your Indian delivery order, now you can make your own Chana Masala quickly and easily at home using most of the items you have in your pantry and spice rack already. Canned tomatoes and chickpeas get depth and richness from the addition of Garam Masala (an Indian spice mix of coriander, cumin, cardamom (green and black), cinnamon, black pepper, cloves). Along with being vegetarian, this recipe is also vegan and gluten-free and a great budget-friendly option with rice or leftover grains.