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Pantry Recipes and Shelf Cooking

Looking for ways to use up those famous pantry staples? I’ve rounded up my favorite pantry recipes that include easy dinner ideas, side dishes, snacks and desserts. It’s a great way to start shelf cooking. 

Pantry shelves with bins.
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Pantry Favorites

If you’re having one of those weeks where you’re trying to use up your pantry and freezer staples, these recipes are perfect for you. They’re easy, cost effective and still taste super fresh and delicious. Your family won’t even notice!

Whether you’re looking for canned bean recipes or canned chicken recipes, you can usually substitute those in most situations. You can also use frozen veggies and meat in place of fresh. Most of these recipes are super customizable, meaning you can leave out or swap a few ingredients if needed. Also, here is a post I wrote on how to organize your pantry! I share all the links to the bins in that post with lots of tips.

Shelf cooking recipes.


Here are some of my favorite dinner pantry recipes to make with canned goods and items from the freezer. 

  1. Taco soup – You can make this recipe without hamburger, onions and bell peppers if you don’t have those on hand. It’s a great way to use up canned black beans, corn and diced tomatoes.
  2. Sheet pan sausage and vegetables – Grab a package of sausage and vegetables from the freezer and roast it together with some olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Grilled cheese and tomato soup – Don’t forget about a simple classic. Sometimes it’s nice to grab a can of tomato soup and dip a sandwich in.
  4. Chicken and vegetable stir fry – This is a great recipe to use with what you have on hand. You can use canned chicken and any vegetable.
  5. Easy 3 ingredient chili – All you need is a can of chili beans, diced tomatoes and hamburger. Or you could use my favorite chili recipe, there’s just a few more ingredients needed.
  6. One pot goulash – Use frozen onions and bell peppers to make this dish. It can absolutely be made without cheese, but if you have it on hand – feel free to sprinkle some on top.
  7. Instant pot spaghetti – Just throw everything in the instant pot and let it work it’s magic. You can make it without the beef if you don’t have any on hand.
  8. Hawaiian haystacks – This is a great recipe to use up that cream of chicken soup. Once it’s ready, top with some common pantry staples like canned pineapples, sliced olives, mandarin oranges or Chinese noodles.
  9. Creamy Italian chicken – If you have cream cheese in the fridge, this is a super easy crockpot dish. Serve over your favorite noodles.
  10. One pot burrito bowls – This dish calls for those popular pantry staples like corn, beans and diced tomatoes. You can easily make it without the peppers, onions and hamburger if needed.
  11. BBQ meatballs -this recipes only uses 3 ingredients: freezer meatballs, BBQ sauce and grape jelly (could use any flavor).
  12. Homemade pizza dough -this recipe calls for simple pantry staples. Add whatever toppings you have on hand.
  13. Taco bowls – Another slow cooker favorite that uses frozen chicken and canned beans and corn. Don’t worry about making the cilantro lime rice – you can serve them over regular microwave or freezer rice if needed.
  14. Skillet nachos– these are a great meal to make with whatever you have on hand. We usually always have tortilla chips, a can of beans and cheese.
  15. German Pancakes – Have breakfast for dinner with only a few ingredients.
Pantry recipes.


Here are a few sides dish pantry recipes that use up basic canned goods, rice and flour. 

  1. Roasted vegetables – you roast any frozen vegetables you have on hand. Sometimes I’ll have roast canned corn or green beans to add a little depth of flavor.
  2. Green beans – this recipe can easily be swapped with canned green beans and is super simple to make.
  3. Creamed corn – This is a great way to use up canned corn. Substitute the cream with milk or evaporated milk if you need to.
  4. Rice – This is the perfect way to use a bag of that uncooked rice that’s been sitting in the pantry. Keep it simple and make plain white rice on the stove, or even rice pilaf or Mexican rice.
  5. Fried rice – The beauty of fried rice is that it tastes best using leftover rice. So whip up a big batch of white rice and save half to make fried rice the next day. Make it even easier and use a frozen veggie medley of peas, carrots and corn.
  6. Homemade bread – Makes a a beautiful loaf for sandwich bread or a side to any meal.
  7. Whole wheat bread – This is a great recipe to use up that wheat, honey and evaporated milk.
  8. French bread – This bread only takes 5 ingredients and is so delicious. It’s great to use for mini sandwiches as well.
  9. Breadsticks – These breadsticks would be perfect alongside my instant pot spaghetti. They’re ready in less than an hour and can even be frozen, too.
  10. Artisan bread – you only 3 ingredients, one bowl and 5 minutes to prep.
Pantry recipes.

Snacks and Desserts

If you’re looking for something sweet, these recipes will be sure to be a hit at home. 

  1. Kids trail mix – This a simple recipe that you can create with what you have in hand. Add your favorite cereals, nuts and chocolate chips.
  2. Energy balls – These are the perfect snack to make with what’s in your pantry. They are no bake and you only need 3 simple ingredients: peanut butter, oats, honey. The rest are optional.
  3. Easy breakfast muffins -these are a great muffin to whip up and serve with jam or honey.
  4. Smoothies – The perfect way to make use up frozen fruit. Try making my easy pineapple smoothie or strawberry banana smoothie.
  5. Overnight oats – These are great for a quick breakfast, snack or dessert.
  6. Homemade granola bars – Make your own at home. Customize with your favorite ingredients.
  7. Cake mix cookies – These are the perfect cookie to make if you only have eggs on hand. You only need a box of cake mix, oil and eggs.
  8. Rice krispy treats – You only need 3 ingredients for this childhood favorite. Rice Krispies (or a similar cereal), butter and marshmallows.
  9. No bake cookies – These are always a fun treat to make and they only require the basics.
  10. Dump cake – Made with cake mix and canned fruit.
  11. Oreo brownies – Use a box mix and add oreos if you have them on hand.
  12. Cereal bars – An easy no bake treat that calls for dry cereal, peanut butter, honey and vanilla. That’s it!
  13. Crepes – these are a staple at our house and can be made for breakfast or dessert!
  14. 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies -all you need is peanut butter, an egg and sugar.

Hope you enjoy these recipes!

Free Printable Pantry Staples List

To help make things easier, try downloading this free printable checklist. This gives you an idea of which food items to always have stocked in the pantry. Simply download the file, print it out and mark which items you have and which ones you need.

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