Pantry Meals

Written by Lori Bumbaco, MS, RDN, CSO, LDN, Oncology Dietitian

What are the best foods to buy when are under a self-quarantine, and is it possible to consume a nutritious diet?  The good news is that nutrition can still be your priority if you need to rely on shelf stable items.  Building meals around pantry staples while incorporating perishable items provide versatility, flavor, and nutrition.  There is no indication that food retailers will not be able to meet the demand of consumers, and it is important to avoid buying more than you and your family require.

Meal Planning Tips:

  1. Take inventory of what you already have
  2. Plan for simple meals using common ingredients
  3. Remember that the freezer is your friend

Nourishing Staples

  • Canned beans and lentils
  • Canned veggies, such as diced tomatoes, pumpkin puree
  • Vegetable and chicken broth
  • Whole grains, such as oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice, farro, popcorn kernels
  • Canned tuna or salmon
  • Shelf stable milk/dairy alternatives
  • Whole wheat bread, pita, tortillas
  • Salsa
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Canned fruit, such as pineapple in its own juice and unsweetened applesauce
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters
  • Dried fruit
  • Winter squash, potatoes
  • Nonfat or low fat plain yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Ground turkey, poultry
  • Frozen vegetables and fruit

Building Meals

Using the items listed above, follow these simple suggestions to assemble a week’s worth of meals with limited ingredients.  Consider mixing and matching ingredients according to what you have on hand or prefer to use.

Breakfast Ideas:

  1. Oats with frozen berries and walnuts, topped with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.
  2. Scrambled eggs with frozen spinach and peppers. Serve with whole wheat toast.
  3. Whole wheat toast with peanut butter, sliced banana, and chia or hemp seeds.
  4. Greek yogurt with canned pineapple and slivered almonds.
  5. Whole wheat pancakes with frozen blueberries.
  6. Black bean whole wheat burrito with salsa and low fat cheddar cheese.
  7. Avocado toast with low fat feta cheese and pepitas.

Need recipe inspiration?  Check out the following resources:

Lunch Ideas:

  1. Grain bowl made with quinoa, chickpeas and leafy greens.
  2. Chickpea and tuna salad on rye toast.
  3. Pumpkin chili with side of canned fruit.
  4. Veggie pasta bake, made with canned artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and pesto.
  5. Tomato soup with low fat grilled cheese.
  6. Stuffed sweet potato with black beans and quinoa.
  7. Smashed bean salad in whole wheat pita.

In need of a recipe?  Here are some ideas to get you cooking!

One of our most popular recipes: CWC’s smashed bean salad

Dinner Ideas:

  1. Whole grain pizza.
  2. Chicken stir fry with frozen vegetable blend and brown rice.
  3. Bean burger with side of chickpea, olive, and roasted red pepper salad.
  4. Pasta primavera.
  5. Sloppy joe lentil sandwiches.
  6. Stuffed bell peppers.
  7. Upgraded instant ramen.
  8. Caribbean Shrimp Stir Fry

Share with us your meal creations!  The CWC community would like to stay connected, and food is one of the best ways to maintain our sense of community!

Additional resources:

Resources from the Partnership for Food Safety Education:

Budget Bytes:  extensive resource offering tips on pantry staples, meal prep, as well as recipes.