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Struggling to find something delicious and healthy without the fridge and freezer? Today we are breaking out 15 Healthy Recipe Ideas with only ingredients found in the pantry! That’s right….I am teaching you some easy recipes that don’t require a single item out of a fridge or a freezer!

cooking with just pantry items

Learning how to cook with ingredients in my kitchen was a process.  The good news is I am going to teach you some healthy recipe ideas  from ingredients in the pantry in the time it takes you to read this post. 

Cooking with just pantry items can be easier than you think if you have the right items stocked in your pantry.

These healthy recipe ideas are all meals you can make with just a few ingredients from your pantry to help you create an easy meal plan. The most important thing is to know what to stock your pantry with so that you can easily whip together something when you don’t have access to fresh food.

So let’s dive into the most common questions with recipes that only are made with pantry ingredients.

How do I stock my pantry?

Here are my go to staples that I try to have on hand in my pantry at all times. If you have these basics you can make so many delicious, easy meals to feed your family.


  • Oil (coconut, avocado, olive, canola)
  • vinegars (balsamic, white balsamic, apple cider, white)
  • salt
  • sugar
  • flour
  • brown sugar
  • honey
  • corn starch
  • evaporated milk
  • maple syrup

Canned Goods:

  • corn
  • tomatoes
  • tomato sauce
  • green beans
  • canned fruit (peaches, oranges, pears)
  • beans (black, pinto, refried, garbanzo, white northern)
  • canned chicken
  • tuna
  • soups
  • lentils


  • spaghetti
  • shells
  • macaroni
  • lasagna sheets
  • your kids favorite pastas
  • box mac and cheese

Dry Goods:

  • quinoa
  • oats
  • rice
  • flour
  • sugar
  • salt
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • yeast


  • tortilla chips
  • crackers
  • bacon bits
  • nuts
  • cereal
  • apple sauce
  • oatmeal packets
  • pancake mix
  • cornbread mix
  • dressings
  • jams
  • peanut butter
  • pre-made sauces (tomato pasta sauce, curry sauce, bbq sauce, buffalo sauce)


  • seasoning packets (pot roast, chili, ranch, Italian dressing)
  • your favorite dry herbs

What can I make from just my pantry?

Meals with only pantry items can include dished like soups, tacos, pasta dishes, flavored pancakes and many more.

You have probably searched things like canned bean recipes or canned chicken recipes. Those items are great, but think outside the box like making these pina colada pancakes.

The recipes and ideas in the end of the post give variety and use common ingredients without always defaulting to the canned beans or chicken, although I do love those for these type of recipes.

Are all pantry meals vegetarian?

A lot of pantry based meals are vegetarian, using items like canned beans or lentils for protein. You can also use canned chicken or canned tuna which are some of my favorites.

And of course if you have access to fresh or frozen meats you can use these ideas as base recipes and add fresh items when you have them. But these recipes and ideas are well balanced on their own and use other sources of protein such as canned beans or lentils.

Are pantry meals healthy?

Pantry based meals can still be nutritious and well balanced when you use canned vegetables, meats like chicken or tuna and beans. Canned items actually are full of nutrients and vitamins and still have the benefits that go along with eating fresh. Check out this article all about canned food.

Lastly don’t forget to have seasonings and spices on hand in your pantry to boost flavor without extra fat. A dish can be transformed by simply adding some herbs or spices.

What can I make with pantry ingredients?

I have listed quite a few ideas below to get you started BUT you have to have a stocked pantry.  Having the items above in your pantry can make a huge difference on what you can actually make. Also get creative and have fun with it!

Making meals from pantry items:

Here are some of my go-to meals with pantry items that will help you create an easy meal plan. I also included a list at the very bottom (scroll all the way down) for some simple meal ideas.

pantry meals

Taco Soup:

Literally just throw everything into the Instant Pot or a stockpot (minus the tortilla chips) and bring to a simmer. Top with tortilla chips and serve.

Minestrone Soup:

Place everything in a stockpot and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until noodles are cooked. You may want to just add 2 cups of noodles instead of the whole bag.

Lentil Tacos:

Combine the lentils, taco seasoning and some salsa in a saute pan over medium heat and heat through. Serve in tortillas.

Other Easy Pantry Meal Ideas:

Bean Burritos: can refried beans, salsa or enchilada sauce, tortillas

Pasta: tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, canned vegetables

Pasta: Alfredo sauce, bacon bits, can peas

Gnocchi: gnocchi, tomato sauce, sun dried tomatoes, tuna, olives or capers

Tuna Noodle Casserole: pasta, cream of celery soup, canned tuna, canned vegetables

Stuffed Potatoes: potatoes, garbanzo beans, salsa, taco seasoning

Banana Pancakes: Kodiak pancake mix (with just water), banana pudding mix, syrup, bananas, nuts

Pina Colada Pancakes: Kodiak pancake mix (with just water), vanilla pudding mix, coconut syrup, canned pineapple

Black Bean Soup: black beans, chicken stock, garlic, onion, jarred salsa

Asian Noodles: pasta, peanut butter, teriyaki sauce, canned green beans, water chestnuts

Mac and Cheese: boxed mac and cheese, buffalo sauce, can chicken

Bacon Mac and Cheese: boxed mac and cheese, bacon bits

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