We all have tough choices to make in life: To post an #OOTD selfie because you’re feeling yourself OR to accept the death of that being acceptable somewhere around 2014? To cut your BFF off midway through the mind-numbing story about her boyfriend’s coworker, whom you’ve never met and never will meet, doing some annoying thing you don’t care about OR to suffer through the full six minutes and be okay with never getting that time in your life back because that’s what friends do? To be a responsible adult and go grocery shopping on Sunday OR to watch seven episodes of the Real Housewives of Atlanta that you’ve already seen?
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That last question is what brings us here today. I love grocery shopping like most people love Halo Top ice cream or finding money on the ground during their morning commute. That said, sometimes I just want to watch garbage TV during my free time, which means that I’m left to build dinner with whatever happens to be in my pantry for the week. If you, too, find yourself in this position often, here is my suggestion: The next time you make it to the grocery store, load up on shelf-stable items that you can whip up a healthy meal with — stuff like canned wild salmon and tuna, canned beans and dry lentils, coconut milk, grains and noodles like quinoa, brown rice, and soba, canned tomatoes, nori wraps, nut butters, and spices to liven all these pantry staples up, etc. This way, on those weeks, when you’re feeling too lazy to handle basic adult responsibilities (hey, it happens to the best of us), you won’t starve or be forced to rack up an embarrassing Grubhub tab. Instead, you’ll have the essentials for healthy dinners (and leftovers for lunches, too!) at your fingertips.
Below Are 10 Recipes Made With Pantry Staples to Refer to the Next Time Your Fridge is Empty
(Click titles to see the recipe!)
And note: Some of these work in fresh veggies, but if you’re really smart, you’ll have some frozen veggies stocked to sub in — or you can just improvise and go with whatever happens to be in your fridge, or without!
Recipe by: Meaningful Eats
My fiancé’s mother, who lives in Italy, introduced me to the magic that is the combo of cannellini beans and canned tuna years ago and now I always keep these two items in my pantry for lazy days. You can also add some boxed Banza pasta shells (another pantry staple to put on your list) in with this salad amp it up and have leftovers for lunch the next day.
Recipe by: Be Well By Kelly
If you’re not keeping nori sheets in your pantry, what, my friend, are you doing with your life? First off, seaweed is loaded with good stuff like vitamins A, B6, and C, plus iodine and fiber. Plus, you can put just about anything inside of it, wrap it up and call it a meal — in this case, canned salmon, quinoa, and veggies. Mmm.
Recipe by: Loveleaf
The fact that you can turn a drab $1 can of chickpeas into the crispiest, crunchiest bites of heaven on earth is one of the few things in life that makes me believe in miracles. This salad takes kale — but you could use any other greens you have on hand, really — and tops it with simple but delicious roasted beans and a tahini dressing.
Recipe by: Nutrition Stripped
The main elements here are two items you probably have in your pantry: black beans and quinoa. Then there are some frozen veggies (Mmmm, sweet corn), too. Easy.
Recipe by: A Beautiful Mess
This dairy-free tomato soup is made with canned tomatoes (check), cashews (check), vegetable stock (check), onion, garlic and a couple of spices. Pair it with some toast and voila: dinner!
Recipe by: the Full Helping
Lentils are a bomb pantry staple: They cook super quick and are chock-full of protein. And if you happen to have any veggies in your fridge or freezer, you can easily throw them into the mix here.
Recipe by: Pinch of Yum
Nut butters are sleeper stars when it comes to saving sad dinners — they make whipping up a flavorful sauce to throw on top of noodles, whichever sad salad greens you have in your fridge, or a stir-fry super easy.
Recipe by: Budget Bytes
This recipe uses staples like canned chickpeas, rice, and vegetable broth to create a bangin’ side dish or a full-blown meal if you’ve got some protein on deck to add to the mix. The spinach used here is also frozen — another backup item worth stocking.
Recipe by: Feed Me Phoebe
This dish is on constant rotation in my house — it’s warming, healthy, delicious and I’m able to keep pretty much everything on hand for whenever the urge strikes to make it.
Recipe by: Half Baked Harvest
Pretty much everything in this dish is shelf-stable (read: the stuff you should be keeping in your pantry!): canned tuna, jarred sundried tomatoes, jarred olives, pasta, and artichokes — this recipe calls for fresh artichokes, but I’m sure the world would not end if you went the lazy route and used jarred.