Skip to content

8 Easy dinner ideas using everyday pantry items

Here are eight dishes to help you fill those weeknight dinner gaps without an added trip to the store.

Busy weeknight dinners often mean staring into the pantry at 5:30 p.m. wondering what you’ll have on the table by 6 p.m. With these easy meals, you can quickly prepare a healthy and flavourful dinner using ingredients that you likely have on hand already! 

Combining the meats you have in the refrigerator or freezer, whatever vegetables are ready to be cooked, and pantry staples like pasta and beans can lead to some delicious dinners. Use these eight recipes as inspiration, and don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients for what you have in the freezer and pantry at home.

Recipe via My Baking Addiction

Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole

This casserole combines classic cheeseburger flavours in one big dish that’s easy to prepare and delicious to eat. In addition to ground beef and a homemade cheese sauce (just use some milk and whatever cheese you have), ketchup, mustard, and relish bump up the flavour without a special trip to the store for ingredients. You can easily swap the tater tots for mashed potatoes, cauliflower tots, or even biscuits if you don’t have any on hand. Similarly, any ground or shredded meat would work instead of ground beef.

Recipe via Six Sisters' Stuff

Five Bean Soup

The best thing about this soup recipe is that it truly does use whatever you have on hand. From vegetables to beans, grab what’s in reach, and combine with some chicken stock. The classic recipe includes bell peppers, onions, tomato sauce, and lots of spices alongside the beans. Of course, even though it’s called five bean soup, you can use whatever variety you have in the pantry! Add some canned or frozen corn for more flavour if you come up a few beans short. This soup is easy to assemble and can be ready in just minutes!

Recipe via Taste of Home

Taco Lasagna

If you’re short on taco shells but want that taco flavour, try this lasagna version that uses tortillas or chips instead of shells. You can cook the ground beef (or whatever meat you have on hand) with onions, peppers, and plenty of seasonings, then layer in a casserole dish with cheese and tortillas. This “lasagna” is also a great way to use up the leftover, broken bits of chips or tortillas that wouldn’t make it to the plate otherwise.

Recipe via Healthy Instant Pot Recipes

Instant Pot Spaghetti

Pasta is one of the easiest meals to make on a busy weeknight, and almost everyone has a few boxes in the pantry to use in a pinch. Make the preparation even easier by using your Instant Pot to cook everything. There’s only one pot for cleanup! This recipe works well for any pasta with a recommended cooking time of between 9-11 minutes, so use whatever you have on hand.

Recipe via Simply Healthy Kitchen

Honey Paprika Chicken

This recipe produces a fancy meal in only 15 minutes, all from ingredients you’d typically have on hand! Keep this one on standby for unexpected weeknight dinner guests. The recipe here uses spices like chili powder, paprika, and cumin, but if you don’t have those in stock, you can substitute them with a similar flavour profile like cayenne pepper or a mixed taco seasoning. The chicken thighs in this recipe are richer than breasts, but you can use any cut of meat that you have in the fridge or freezer, even pork.

Recipe via Delicious Meets Healthy

Tuna White Bean Salad

What to do with those cans of tuna when you don’t want to make sandwiches? Try this delicious salad instead. Combining white beans with the tuna, lemon juice, onions, and parsley makes a fresh dish that would pair well with toasted bread or rice. If you don’t have white beans, garbanzos/chickpeas would work well, too.

Recipe via Delicious Meets Healthy

Sweet Potato Hash with Sausage and Eggs

Sweet potatoes are a good produce staple to have around because they keep for a long time in dark cabinets. Use them in this recipe for an easy breakfast-for-dinner spin on a classic hash. You can use sausage if you have it, but adding some beans for a vegetarian option would work as well! Top it with eggs, and you have a delicious dinner. This meal is easy to make quickly since everything cooks in the same skillet and can be on the table in under half an hour.

Recipe via Taste of Home

White Turkey Chili

Chili is a great option for an easy weeknight meal. Because everything stews together, you can use the last bits of ingredients from leftovers and pantry staples without anyone suspecting! This white turkey chili uses cannellini beans along with turkey and cream of chicken soup for the base. Add whatever vegetables you have (onions, peppers, etc.) and some spices, then top with sour cream or plain yogourt.

Try one of these easy meals next time you find yourself searching through the pantry for dinner inspiration!