Sure, you could just crack open a box of mac and cheese or pop a frozen pizza in the oven and call it a day, but pantry cooking can be so much more. That is why I have made it my mission to regularly share pantry-friendly recipes that are designed to be quick, thrifty and — most of all — full of flavor.
Readers share tips for pantry- and freezer-friendly home cooking
At times, that means a quick pasta with flavors that go beyond the basic spaghetti and jarred sauce. It can also mean an exploration of a few grocery store aisles and their ingredients that might be new to you and using them to create tacos, dumplings and noodle dishes.
These recipes were designed to work exclusively with shelf-stable, frozen and other long-lasting ingredients that you can keep on hand to help you avoid those extra trips to the store.
11 frozen meals our staff turns to in a pinch
The pantry recipes I’ve shared in Voraciously thus far are included below. Bookmark this page and be sure to check back each month or so for a new one.
Pasta With Artichokes, Capers and Toasted Breadcrumbs, above. This pasta packs a briny punch thanks to marinated artichokes and capers. It’s topped with seasoned and toasted breadcrumbs for a delightful crunch.
Spam and Pineapple Fried Rice. Fried rice is a great dish for using just about any ingredient you can think off. This version is a nod to Hawaiian pizza with browned cubes of Spam and caramelized pineapple.
Bacon-and-egg fried rice is the back-pocket recipe you need for busy weeknights
Black Bean and Pumpkin Stew With Pasta. A can of pumpkin puree provides luxurious body to this stew with black beans and orzo. Whole coriander and cumin seeds add bursts of flavor and texture when you bite into them for a welcome surprise. Add even more crunch by serving it with croutons on top.
5 spices to buy whole and grind at home for maximum flavor
Chipotle Jackfruit and Black Bean Tacos. Canned chipotle sauce adds tons of flavor — and a decent amount of heat — to these vegan jackfruit and black bean tacos. This recipe is as simple as heating the three ingredients together in a skillet with some spices and serving the filling with tortillas and your favorite taco toppings.
5 recipes that prove beans are the MVP of the pantry
Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles With Green Beans. Hot take: This peanut sauce can make even shoe leather palatable. Instead of pouring it over your favorite pair of sneakers, toss it with soba noodles and vegetables from the freezer for a quick, satisfying meal.
When you’re tired of cooking, these 10 easy recipes help you get food on the table ASAP
Mushroom Dumplings. While I love frozen, premade dumplings as much as the next person, it can be fun — and still quick enough for a weeknight — to fill and fold them yourself. Canned mushrooms, bamboo shoots, hoisin sauce and chili-garlic sauce compose the filling that goes into frozen dumpling wrappers. I recommend seeking out hoisin sauce to add to your pantry if it’s not already there, otherwise you can use barbecue sauce mixed with a bit of miso paste or soy sauce instead.
The big chill: A guide to using your freezer
Pasta With Marinara, Olives and Clams. Pasta with marinara sauce is classic, albeit basic and one note. This dish goes the extra mile with chopped kalamata olives, canned clams, whole fennel seeds and crushed red pepper flakes for a chorus of flavors.
These pantry-friendly cookbooks will inspire you during the pandemic — and beyond
Polenta With Chickpeas and Tomatoes. If you’re in the mood for a dish that’s warm and comforting, look no further. Top with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese for added flourish.
A guide to cornmeal, grits and polenta — and how to know when to use them
Mushroom, White Bean and Rice Skillet. This one-pot meal is packed with umami thanks to canned mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup and Worcestershire sauce. Top it with French’s Crispy Fried Onions for a bit of crunch.
Should you rinse rice? Here’s when, why and how to do it.
Corn and Cheese Oatmeal With Crispy Pepperoni. Oats need not be confined to sweet dishes, and this recipe for corn and cheese oatmeal is just one example of the ingredient’s savory side. Parmesan cheese gives this dish a risotto-esque creaminess and crispy strips of pepperoni add texture and spice.
Creamy Bucatini With Roasted Seaweed. This recipe is adapted from food writer Eric Kim’s debut cookbook, “Korean American,” in which he calls seasoned roasted seaweed “one of the greatest Korean pantry items of all time.” Here, it adds maritime umami to a creamy, garlicky pasta.
Pasta Salad With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and White Beans. Sun-dried tomatoes — tart, sweet and packed with umami — are a powerhouse ingredient, and they shine in this pasta salad recipe with white beans that add creaminess, a hint of earthiness and filling protein.
This tuna salad is light and bright with white beans and capers
Coconut Corn Soup With Chili Crisp. Use fresh, frozen or canned corn to enjoy this vegan soup at any time of the year. Top with your favorite brand of chili crisp for a sweet and spicy bowl of comfort.