There’s a lot going on right now, and we’ll get through it together. I asked on Instagram what kind of content you’d like to see as we stay home to flatten the curve. Many of you requested flexible pantry-friendly recipes. You’ll find a large selection below, and I’m working on more to share soon.
At the bottom of this post, you’ll find guidance on common substitutions. Now is a good time to flex our creative powers in the kitchen and make the most of what we have. It’s also a great time to take on new cooking techniques, like homemade pasta or ricotta!
I created a printable pantry ingredient checklist. You can access it any time at cookieandkate.com/pantry. Use it to review your pantry setup for what may or may not be missing. You can then keep your list near your computer when you’re reviewing recipes to make. I hope it’s helpful.
This pantry resource is organized into sections:
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Try typing an ingredient into the search bar (it’s underneath the logo at the top of each page) or peruse my ingredient index.
Soups & Stews
All of these soups make great leftovers (up to five days) and freeze well for later. The only soups that might not freeze well are those that are full of cheese, milk or cream—none of these are. Sometimes, soups with pasta soak up more liquid as they rest or reheat, but I have not had significant issues with this when I use quality pasta (look for labels that indicate the pasta was processed on bronze dies).
If you’re out of fresh greens or the suggested garnishes, don’t worry. These soups will still be great without them.
- Lentil Soup
- Homemade Vegetarian Chili
- Chickpea Noodle Soup
- Quinoa Vegetable Soup with Kale
- Pinto Posole
- Classic Minestrone Soup
- Pasta e Fagioli
- Seriously Good Vegetable Soup
- Spicy Black Bean Soup
- West African Peanut Soup
Who doesn’t love pasta? I sure do. I try to incorporate a lot of vegetables into my pasta dishes to mitigate the simple carbohydrate factor. The shells and green pasta linked below are easily made with frozen greens rather than fresh. You can add frozen peas to mac and cheese or just about anything, really—drop them into simmering water and cook just until they’re warmed through the middle (it doesn’t take long).
- Spinach Stuffed Shells
- Lemony Green Pasta with Peas and Ricotta
- Real Stovetop Mac and Cheese or Amazing Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Parmesan-Crusted Cauliflower Steaks with Marinara
- Vegan Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
View all pasta recipes here. You’ll find more pasta in the casseroles and lentils sections below.
Casseroles make for great leftovers and freeze well, too. Think about how much casserole you’ll want to serve in portions later, and freeze those portions separately. I say that because they can take quite a while to thaw. While I intend to share a full-blown freezer guide soon, our preliminary tests are showing that baked lasagna freezes better for later than unbaked. Be sure it cools completely through the center before freezing.
- Vegetable Lasagna or Vegan Lasagna
- Baked Ziti with Roasted Vegetables or Lentil Baked Ziti
- Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole
- Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas
- Better Broccoli Casserole
- Spinach Artichoke Enchiladas
- Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas
Brown rice is an absolute staple in my pantry. I’m partial to long-grain brown rice (basmati or jasmine), and short-grain brown rice. I buy Lundberg brand rice and cook it according to my foolproof brown rice method. Since most of the rice recipes below are cooked, they’re quite amenable to frozen vegetables (the paella is, too).
- Vegetable Paella
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Crispy Baked Tofu with Honey-Sesame Glaze
- Thai-Spiced Peanut Rice Bowls
- Build-Your-Own Buddha Bowl
- Anything-Goes Kale Salad with Green Tahini Dressing
- Thai Red Curry with Vegetables
- Thai Green Curry with Spring Vegetables
- Veggie Sushi Bowls
- Fried rice: Extra-Vegetable Fried Rice or Spicy Kale and Coconut Fried Rice or Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
- Risotto: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto or Spring Pea and Asparagus Risotto or Easy Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms and Fresh Oregano
Eggs are a quick-cooking source of protein, choline, vitamin A and more. Scrambled eggs and fried eggs are best served fresh. Frittatas keep well for several days—I like to serve them with toast, or even cut them into pieces for a quick taco filling or salad topper. The breakfast burritos shown below freeze well for later, if you’d like to make a big batch now to have on hand for future quick meals.
- How to Make Frittatas (Stovetop or Baked)
- Foolproof Shakshuka
- The Creamiest Scrambled Eggs (with Goat Cheese)
- Vegetarian Breakfast Burritos
- Fresh Huevos Rancheros
- Austin-Style Migas with Black Beans
- Simple Breakfast Quesadillas
Beans & Lentils
My most pantry-friendly bean recipes have already been featured in the lists above. Have a surplus? Check out recipes that call for black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans and white beans.
Lentils, like beans, are a wonderful source of protein, fiber and other nutrients. Unlike beans, they cook up in about 20 minutes. Make a batch of perfectly cooked lentils and add it to your pasta with marinara for a vegetarian take on bolognese. Or make a lentil salad—you can enjoy it as is, pile it onto greens, use it as a quesadilla stuffing with cheese, and so much more.
- Hearty Spaghetti with Lentils & Marinara Sauce
- Lentil Baked Ziti
- Greek Lentil Salad
- Mujadara (Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions)
- Quick Dal Makhani
- Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce
Substitutions That Work
I always try to write recipes with versatility in mind. Any time you see multiple options listed within the ingredients section, rest assured that any one of them will work. Also check below the recipe for a “change it up” section, which provides guidance on how to vary the ingredients. Lastly, you can review the comments to see what has worked for other readers!
The most versatile canned tomatoes are whole peeled tomatoes because they are easily processed into diced or crushed tomatoes. To turn them into diced tomatoes, roughly dice them by hand or crush them with the back of a sturdy spoon as they cook. To turn them into crushed tomatoes, blitz whole or diced tomatoes in your food processor or blender until they are more smooth than chunky. Tomato paste is great to have, too.
If you don’t have fire-roasted tomatoes, substitute regular—you can always add a tiny pinch of smoked paprika if you miss the fiery flavor.
Fresh bell peppers
For recipes that don’t rely on the raw crunch of bell pepper, substitute jarred roasted red peppers or frozen bell pepper strips. If using roasted red peppers, add them later in the cooking process than the instructions for raw peppers indicate (since they’re pre-cooked). Not all roasted red peppers are made equal; I like Divina and Whole Foods 365 brands.
For recipes that call for a small amount of fresh herbs as an accent or garnish (say, less than 1/2 cup), you have a few options. You can simply omit them, or substitute dried herbs, or sometimes, you can substitute one herb for another (cilantro and parsley are occasionally interchangeable, but cilantro would likely taste out of place in an Italian dish).
When substituting dried herbs for fresh, use one-third of the amount specified (so if a recipe calls for one tablespoon—which is three teaspoons—fresh dill, use one teaspoon dried dill). You can always add more if desired.
Fresh greens and vegetables
Frozen greens and vegetables are great for cooked recipes that call for fresh greens or veggies. You wouldn’t want to make a spinach salad with frozen spinach (yuck), but frozen spinach would be great in a pasta dish—you likely wouldn’t notice much difference. Likewise, I wouldn’t try to roast frozen broccoli, but frozen broccoli would be good in your mac and cheese.
Frozen produce that may come in useful: Spinach, kale, peas, broccoli and/or cauliflower, bell peppers, and edamame. You might also appreciate frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries or mixed), pineapple and bananas (peel and slice into 1-inch pieces before freezing).
Tip: Before using, I place my frozen vegetables or greens in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse off all the ice. I’m convinced this reduces freezer burn flavor, and it also helps defrost them before using.
Substitute water for vegetable broth, then add salt to taste when you’re done cooking. You likely won’t miss it (the one exception to this might be my Chickpea Noodle Soup, since it’s the most brothy of the bunch).
More resources you might appreciate: 23 healthy make-ahead breakfast recipes, 29 healthy comfort food recipes and 20 simple weeknight dinners. You might also like my monthly seasonal produce guides and essential kitchen tools. View all roundups and resource posts here.
Thank you for sharing this. It really makes a difference to connect via food via sites like yours — and very generous of you to share this kind of information and support at this challenging time.
You’re welcome, Sharon! I’m happy to do my part to help during times like these. Stay healthy!
You can’t imagine how much I appreciate your efforts to help people get through these tough times. This is a very thoughtful idea that I will share with my neighbors and the people who run our local soup kitchen. Some of those who frequent the soup kitchen do not have much in their pantries but sharing your ideas may just help more households get through. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Maureen! Yes, please share and I hope it’s helpful to them too.
Thank you very much
You’re welcome, John!
Thank you so much for the encouragement and tools you’ve given us with this post.It has such a reassuring tone and actually settled my day.
I live in one of the West Coast hot spots, with three personal risk factors, so anxiety levels are pretty high around here!
You’ve managed to ease some of that back down to more normal and what could be better than a warm meal made with your own two hands?
You’re welcome! I’m happy I can do something to help in a time like this. I hope you and your loved ones stay safe!
This is a wonderful, useful reference. Last night I was planning what we could make in batches and freeze, to make sure we have some healthy meals stashed away should we be confined to home for a few weeks. It was your recipes I went to – because they’re delicious but most importantly, because I can rely on them. Thank you.
I’m happy it’s helpful to you, Rachel! Stay healthy :)
So helpful. And I enjoy all the pretty photos of these delicious meals. Thank you Kate!
You’re welcome, Shirley!
Thank you so much for this, Kate. It’s so kind and helpful of you to put this together for us.
You’re welcome, Tammy! I’m happy to do what I can to help at times like these.
Thank you so much! This is so helpful! We love your recipes!
You’re welcome, Britt! I hope you can discover something new you love in this roundup. :)
THANK YOU! Seriously this is helpful now, but any time honestly. Really appreciate your notes on substitutions and suggestions. Shared with my co-op preschool group.
I made your vegetable bean quinoa soup. It was a joy to cut up all those healthy vegetables and smell it cooking all day. We put a tablecloth on the table (a small act of gratitude in these difficult lonely times) to lighten things up and remember there is always something to be thankful for. AND THANK YOU for sending these wonderful recipes.
Thank you for sharing these pantry ready recipes during such a stressful time. Your blog and recipes are my favorites and hit all the right notes for health and comfort. So appreciate your care and time on this. Your recipes are helping to focus our anxieties into the kitchen with beautiful food and healthy eating.
You’re welcome! I want to be able to do what I can during a time like this. I hope your kitchen can bring some joy! :)
I have tried several of your vegan recipes and must say that the food is exceptionally delicious. Your culinary work is the best I have ever found. I am so happy to find recipes that everyone loves.
This is awesome – thank you so much. I really appreciate the time that has gone into creating this post.
Question – what would be a suitable substitute for tinned tomatoes if we had no tomatoes at all? I know that it would change the flavour of the meal, but in terms of balancing out the liquid/mass needed to bulk the meal, what would you advise? I get varying results with additional stock/water (also being mindful of the sodium levels in the meal…) and extra peppers/zucchini (courgette), and I’m not sure if this is not understanding the balance of liquid to veg in a tin of tomatoes…
You’re welcome, Jo! Unfortunately, it would depend on the recipe and I don’t have a great suggestion right now. The liquid does play into it, but it’s also the flavor.
You are the best!! I love your recipes!
Aw, thanks Sharon :) I’m happy you are enjoying them!
Actually I’ve tried roasting frozen California blend vegetables and they tastes great. Add a little lemon juice and parmesan cheese and it’s quite tasty.
Virginia Sancilio Cross
I have made several of your recipes and never disappointed!! You make preparing vegetarian dishes simple & easy to follow. Thank you for sharing your love of cooking!!
Hey Kate, thank you so much for sharing the food references. Your efforts can be clearly seen. Keep up the good work.