26 Delicious & Easy Pantry Staple Recipes You'll Love, COVID-19 Edition

26 Delicious And Easy Pantry-Only Recipes To Get You Through A Self-Quarantine

March 17, 2020 Updated August 19, 2020

pantry recipes
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Last week, we placed a massive order for grocery delivery in an attempt to prepare for self-quarantine. When our groceries were delivered days later, we discovered nearly a third of our order was missing. There hadn’t been a mistake. Everyone else is in the same boat stocking up on staples ahead of school and business closures due to the coronavirus and COVID-19 shutdowns and the grocery store was just out of everything. Without our five pounds of ground beef or multiple packs of chicken, dinners should start looking pretty awful, right? Maybe not!

A quick poke around our well-stocked pantry (it’s a bookshelf in our laundry room, just so you know what we’re working with), revealed more variety than you’d expect. Make no mistake: The next few weeks are going to be rough for all of us. But, they don’t have to be impossible, especially when it comes to keeping the family fed. Using the pantry and some advice from the internet, we’ve rounded up a ton of yummy recipes to keep things interesting at home. There’s even a hefty dose of kid-friendly and 3-ingredient recipes for those picky eaters we all love.

1. Chocolate Pancakes

-Pancake Mix
-Cocoa Powder (you’ll need at least 1/8 cup, but gauge this on how many pancakes you’re making and how chocolatey you want to go)
-Chocolate Chips (optional)

Listen, things are a little stressful right now and if you think your kids are immune to it, you’re probably wrong. As an adult, you probably already know that chocolate fixes everything. Why not let your kiddos in on that secret, too?

2. Homemade personal Pizzas

-Tomato sauce
-Pack of pepperoni
-Can/jar of black olives
-Diced onion (fresh or frozen)
-Can of pineapple
-Bacon bits
-Shredded cheese

You get the idea, right? The hardest part might be thinking outside the box for a “crust.” But don’t let your lack of actual prepared pizza crusts get you down. In a pinch, you can use canned biscuits, English muffins, or bagels. If you have Bisquick, there’s probably a recipe on the back. But, if you’re like us, you have a box or two of those super cheap Jiffy pizza crust mixes just hanging out on the back of a shelf.

3. No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

-3 cups dry, quick-cook oats
-1/2 cup peanut butter
-1/2 cup butter
-1.5 cups sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-4 tbsp cocoa
-2 tsp vanilla
-Pinch of Kosher salt

Even in times of hardship, a kid needs their cookies, right? If you run out of Oreos on day 3 of your quarantine, we’ve got you covered.

4. Cheeseburger-less Macaroni and Cheese

-One box of mac & cheese (prepared)
-One can of cream of chicken soup

This is a spin on a family favorite. If you have a pound of ground beef and/or a bag of shredded cheese, you can add that in to up the flavor and protein contents. However, just the soup will add in a bit of meat and change the flavor of your typical boxed mac.

5. Slow Cooker Root Beer Baked Beans

-2 28 oz cans of pork and beans
-8 oz root beer
-1 small white onion, diced (optional)
-2 tbsp mustard
-2 tbsp molasses
-1/2 cup BBQ Sauce (go for a mild, sweet taste, if possible)

Combine everything into your slow cooker and let simmer on low for five hours. For extra flavor, add bacon (or bacon bits) on top.

6. Meatless Chili

-1 can of chili beans
-2 cans diced tomatoes (don’t drain)
-1 small can of tomato paste
-1 packet of chili flavoring

This quick, meatless version of chili is something you can ask a tween to do while you work from home. Have them dump everything from this pantry recipe into your crockpot in the morning. Of, if you forget, it will taste just as good if you do it in a pot on the stove and bring to a simmer. Add water to reach your desired consistency.

7. Tuna Casserole

-1 can of tuna (drained)
-1 bag of egg noodles (or 3 cups of any other kind of noodle)
-1 can of cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
-1 can of peas (drained)

We all love tuna, right? Maybe not. But, if you do, this recipe is the way to go. It’s another super easy, kid-friendly dish that requires minimal work once the noodles are cooked. You can mix it all up and serve as-is, or you can spread the mix into a casserole dish and bake out some of the moisture. (If you have shredded cheese, add some in!)

8. Loaded Sweet Potatoes (or white potatoes)

-1 potato per person
-1 can of black beans, drained
-1 tub of guacamole
-1 can of corn

In order to make this accessible to your kids, we recommend not making them up ahead of time. Instead, bake (or microwave) the potatoes, then set out these ingredients (and anything else you think looks like it might be yummy on a potato). Let everyone assemble their own potatoes for optimal taste and minimal complaining.

9. Noodles and Red Sauce

-1 package of noodles (fun shapes preferred)
-1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Mamas! We get it. You want to add protein. But, your kiddo will be okay if you skip the sausage, ground beef or meatballs for just one meal. Red sauce is well-loved by all kiddos and now is your chance to use up that box of heart-shaped noodles you never used for Valentine’s Day. (Just us? Oh.)

10. Black Bean Taco Salad

-1 can of black beans
-1 can of diced tomatoes (drained)
-1 can of corn (drained)
-1/2 jar of taco sauce

Combine all these pantry ingredients and consider sprinkling with taco seasoning. If you have sour cream, shredded lettuce or shredded cheese in your fridge, they would round out and amp up the recipe, but they’re entirely unnecessary.

11. Broccoli Cheese Dip

-2 jars (16 oz total) of processed cheese sauce
-1 can cream of chicken soup
-3 cups frozen, chopped broccoli (thawed, drained)

Combine everything in your slow cooker and let it work it’s magic for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. This recipe is delicious, as is. But, you can also add jalapeños for more of a kick. Or, if you have some more frozen veggies, you can always try to sneak those in, too.

12. Tuna Salad Roll-ups

-1 pack of tortillas
-2 cans of tuna (drained)
-1 can of white beans (drained)
-1 tbsp relish
-1 tsp of chopped ginger from the jar or squeeze tube (optional)

You absolutely don’t need mayo to make tuna salad and this recipe proves it. However, if you have some, feel free to add it in. Mixing the ginger in adds a bit of unexpected Asian twist to this American classic. The beans aren’t necessary, but they add bulk. Once you’ve tossed everything together, spread a thick layer onto a tortilla and roll it up. Note: If you have some bagged lettuce or coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots), you can add that onto the tuna layer and turn your roll-up into more of a wrap.

13. Chili Potatoes

-1 potato per person
-1 can of chili (Cincinnati-style preferred)
-1 onion, diced

Bake or microwave the potato, then top with chili. Full stop. That’s delicious enough in and of itself. However, for added flavor, you can garnish with diced pieces of onion. You know, the one that’s about to rot a hole through the basket on your pantry’s bottom shelf. (Got shredded cheese in your fridge? Add that, too.)

14. White Bean Pesto Pasta

-Canned white beans
-1/2 jar Pesto
-2 cups Pasta (any variety)

This pantry only recipe may not appeal to younger audiences, but it’s still delicious. Just remember that pesto is a super strong flavor, so a little bit goes a long way.

15. Rice and Beans

-1 serving of rice per person
-1 can of black or red beans
-Any flavor sauce (sriracha, Chalulah, Teriyaki) optional

Did you know that, when combined, rice and beans actually make a nearly perfect meal from a nutrition standpoint? It’s the perfect combination of all the nutrients one should get in a meal. Tons of kids like beans and rice, but plenty don’t… especially on day three. However, most families have an abundance of both beans and rice in their pantry. To keep things “fun,” change the flavors with different bottled sauces you have in your pantry or fridge. For an even more Asian feel, skip the beans but mix in a can of succotash. Flavor with soy sauce and add some scrambled eggs (if you have any).

16. Beans and Toast

-Bread (toasted)
-2 cans white beans (drained)
-Lemon juice (fresh or not)

Some lemon juice over some cooked white beans, seasoned with salt and pepper is enough to make this classic English snack. However, there’s a more complicated, flavorful recipe, as well.

17. Lemon Spaghetti

-1 package of spaghetti noodles, cooked
-1/4 cup of olive oil
-2 oz of canned coconut milk (or heavy cream)
-2 oz of lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
-1/2 cup of parmesan (the stuff in the green tub is fine)

Cook the pasta. In a skillet, combine the olive oil, coconut milk, lemon juice and parm and heat it up until they’re as blended as possible. Toss the sauce with the pasta. Season with salt, pepper, basil and more parmesan. There’s a full, more detailed recipe available if you want it.

18. Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

-2 15 oz cans of black beans (undrained)
-16 oz veggie broth (any will do in a pinch)
-1/2 cup of jarred salsa

This recipe suggests mashing one of your cans of black beans before you begin, though it’s probably not necessary. You can also add sour cream, shredded cheese or chopped cilantro, if you have any available. And never underestimate how much better anything is if you serve it over a baked potato.

19. Salmon Patties

-1 can salmon (drained)
-3/4 cup of pounded saltine crackers
-1/3 cup minced onion
-1 clove of garlic, minced (add more or less to personal preference)
-1 tsp thyme
-1 egg (beaten)
-1 tbsp milk (canned coconut milk, almond milk, heavy cream all work)

Combine everything except the salmon and microwave in short intervals until the onion is translucent. Remember that you might need to remove the skin and bones from your salmon, depending on what kind you bought. Add the salmon to your mix and form into patties. Sautee the patties in the skillet until they are properly browned. However, remember that the more “well done” salmon gets, the fishier it tastes.

20. Simple Potato Soup

-3 cups of cubed potatoes (or three cans of sliced potatoes, drained)
-1/2 cup chopped onion
-14.5 oz chicken broth
-flour
-3 cups milk (real or “fake,” heavy cream will also work)
-8 oz of processed cheese (Velveeta, chopped up Kraft singles, etc)

You can add green onions, chopped bacon (or bacon bits), and various seasonings to taste, but this is the basic recipe. Once everything is in a pot and cooked, use your immersion blender to combine into a smooth soup.

21. Jalapeño parmesan grilled cheese

— 4  slices soft sourdough bread
— 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
— 1  small jalapeño, sliced into thin rings
— 1 c. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
— 1 c. shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

What’s better than a grilled cheese? A grilled cheese with a kick to it. This crunchy, cheesy, spicy grilled cheese recipe comes from Good Housekeeping and makes for an absolute perfect lunch, especially when paired with a salad if you have fresh ingredients, but tomato soup from a can will be just as delicious.

22. Cuban Bean Tacos

— Can of Cuban bean

— Box of hard shell tacos

— Shredded cheese

Literally can’t imagine anything easier than popping open three packages and combining for a delicious and crunchy meal for the whole fam. For a vegan version, throw on chopped up onions and cilantro as a toping instead of cheese.

23. Bean, Corn, and Cheese Quesadillas

— 1 flour or corn tortilla per person

— 1 Can of black beans, drained. Or a can of Cuban beans for a little kick

— 1 can of corn, drained

— Shredded Mexican cheese, or any cheese of your choice

This crazy easy recipe for a delicious and hearty dish packed with nutritious ingredients that tick off the protein, carb, and yummy boxes. Spray a pan with cooking oil and heat a tortilla, sprinkling with cheese on half of it, followed by some beans and corn. Fold over the tortilla and flip, making sure to toast up both sides until they’re golden brown and flaky. Serve with guac if you have ingredients around, or with some hot sauce and sour cream.

24. Veggie Lasagna

When you’re out at the supermarket next, pick up some lasagna noodles and throw them in the back of the pantry. They’ll come in so handy in a pinch when you want to put a meal together. If you don’t want to fuss with boiling the noodles, buy the ready-to-bake kind. You might not get the seal of approval from nonna but hey they’ll do the trick in a pinch.

Eggplant would be perfect here, but other frozen veggies will do as well. A jar of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and some grated parmesan are all the remaining ingredients you’ll need for this cheesy but delicious meal.

25. Frozen Veggie Burgers

Bun less or with a bun, frozen veggie burger patties are a delicious and filling meal that can be prepped in the time it takes to make an omelette. Trader Joe’s has an especially yummy variety with vegetables you can actually see like corn, carrots, zucchini and more, as opposed to other brands you may find in the supermarket.

Serve with a fresh salad, or ketchup, either way, this meal makes for a great lunch or dinner.

26. Hot Dog Night

Got a bun in the oven? No, not that kind of bun, a hot dog bun! Why not make a hot dog night out of your dinner tonight by toasting up some buns and grilling (or boiling) your favorite frozen brand of hot dogs. Add some fresh chopped onions and condiments to allow your dinner guests (i.e. your family) to personalize their dogs.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.