Bonus Blog! March 2020 Easy Pantry Meals
By KRNC Staff
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that to help slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus, people should stay home as much as possible and take precautionary measures. The CDC recommends having a two-week supply of food, medications, and other essential items to help limit grocery store trips and to prepare for isolation and sickness. For you, this might mean cooking at home more often and relying on ingredients you have on-hand, which can feel stressful. In addition, your routine foods might be out of stock leaving you feeling confused about what to make for meals. Continue reading for some easy pantry meals that you can make with the foods you might have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry.
If your fresh produce is running near its expiration, or if you have leftover nubs and ends from meals earlier in the week (onion, tomato, spinach, potatoes, kale, carrots, cabbage), consider throwing them together for flavorful tacos. Heat a little bit of oil in a pan, sauté sturdier vegetables first (onion, carrot, cabbage, potatoes, etc.), then add more delicate vegetables toward the end (tomatoes, spinach, kale, zucchini, etc.). If you have canned beans and/or canned diced tomatoes on hand, add a scoop of those. Cook until just softened. Season with a blend of spices, like a few pinches of cumin, chili powder, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder. Serve in warmed tortillas with any garnishes you have on hand: avocado, sour cream, cheese, cilantro, chopped onions, salsa.
5-Minute Pasta Sauce
All you need to make a home-made pasta sauce is a can of crushed or whole-peeled tomatoes, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Optional add-ins include chili flakes, basil, Italian spice blend, and lemon zest. Sauté some minced garlic on medium-low heat in a little bit of oil for about 30 seconds. Pour in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. If you are using chili flakes and/or basil (fresh or ground) add in to the tomatoes. Stir the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. If using lemon zest, add after 5 minutes and cook for 1 more minute.
Any Bean Chili
To make chili, use any type of canned bean you have in your pantry. Lentils, quinoa, and other grains can be used to supplement beans. If you have onion and garlic, start by sautéing those in a pot with some oil. Add fresh or frozen chiles or peppers if you have them. Drain and rinse your beans and add to the pot. Add in stock and/or any canned tomatoes you have (diced, fire roasted, crushed, whole peeled) to cover the beans. Use a blend of whatever seasonings you have: cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper.
Egg Fried Rice
All you need are some eggs, rice, and veggies of any kind (frozen, fresh, or canned) to make this meal! Cook the rice according to the package directions or use leftover rice. Substitute any grain you have if you don’t have rice. Once the rice has cooked, add oil to a pan and sauté the veggies. Cook the veggies for 4-5 minutes and then add the rice. Add in soy sauce or a premade marinade/sauce that you have in your fridge or pantry and mix together. Make a well in the center of the rice mixture and pour in whisked eggs. Cook the eggs in the well in the pan for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently to make scrambled eggs. Mix everything together and enjoy. Optional: add in any additional protein, such as chicken, shrimp, pork, tofu, tempeh, or cashews.
Use whatever vegetables you have on hand – fresh, frozen, or canned – to make an omelet. Start by sautéing veggies in a pan with some oil. Season veggies with salt and pepper. While veggies are softening, whisk eggs together. Pour eggs into pan over the veggies, cover with a lid, and let cook until the eggs are cooked through, approximately 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle cheese, if desired, over half of the omelet and fold in half. Cook for additional minute to let the cheese melt.
Pasta Veggie Bake
Make a yummy pasta bake by combining cooked pasta, veggies, salt, pepper, and canned tomatoes or pasta sauce (optional) in a baking dish. The pasta should be cooked for two to three minutes less than is suggested by the package directions, and the veggies can be fresh, frozen, or canned. Sprinkle the top with cheese if desired and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 F degrees.
More Meal Ideas:
- Smoothies using any combination of frozen fruit, frozen vegetables, milk, yogurt, peanut butter, juice, etc.
- Mix salsa and chicken and cook in a crockpot on high for 4 hours for an easy protein to add to a variety of meals such as tacos, sandwiches, wraps, salads, pizza, and more.
- Mix frozen veggies and/or a protein source (canned tuna, chicken, beans, etc.) with boxed mac n’ cheese.
- Pantry grain bowls: cook any grain you have on hand, sauté any veggies you have, cook any protein you have (meat, eggs, beans, canned fish) and mix all together in a bowl. Top with a salad dressing or marinade if you have one in your fridge.
- Baked oatmeal using oats, eggs, milk of choice and any add-ins you have: apple sauce, raisins, shredded coconut, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, frozen fruit.
- Homemade pizza with bagels, English muffins, pita bread, sliced bread as your base, top with any pizza or pasta sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings you have on hand. Or doctor-up a frozen pizza with chopped fresh or frozen vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, onions, eggplant) and/or leftover protein or pineapple.
Visit our Easy Pantry Meals Recipe page for even more ideas!
Visit our Recipes page for a variety of other healthy meals!
Helpful Resources for Making the Most of Cooking During These Difficult Times
- Up-to-date information on current guidelines and recommendations for the US
- The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics resource for nutrition professionals
- You can add the ingredients you have in your house and the website will give you a list of recipes you can make
- Blog posts:
Thank you to all the essential workers who are continuing to work hard to help keep us healthy and fed. We greatly appreciate your dedication and determination during this uncertain time.
For additional resources to healthy eating, check out these programs from our registered dietitian nutritionists. More health tips are also available at the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board. Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for the KRNC monthly newsletter!