We're taking Shelf Cooking to the next level with quick and easy dinners you can make exclusively from your pantry. We've got a collection of 20 pantry meals that will blow your mind and fill your bellies!

White bowl containing spaghetti with meat sauce, topped with a spring of green garnish. A white towel rests next to the bowl on a black table. - Shelf Cooking

So what are pantry meals, anyway? Let me tell ya! These are dinner ideas you can make with canned goods like tomato sauce, beans or canned veggies or dried goods like pasta or rice. These are pantry staples that last a long time and you can easily stock up on so you always have some handy ingredients to pull from. Don't worry, we've made sure to include tasty, family-friendly recipes that even the picky eaters will love.

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Pantry meals come in handy when you're running low on groceries but you can't make it to the store. We always suggest keeping a few pantry staples on hand so you have something easy to reach for instead of ordering a pizza. Check out how many of these meals you can make with the goods stocked in your pantry.

Soups Made With Pantry Ingredients

Overhead view of a white bowl of chili topped with cheese, placed on a wooden table with a red and white tea towel next to it. - Shelf Cooking

Homemade soup is one of the easiest, healthiest, and most satisfying ways to cook from your pantry. These recipes can stand on their own as a complete meal, or be paired with bread and salad if that's your thing. Chef's choice!

  • Crockpot Chili – We love a good chili that can easily feed a hungry crowd. If you don't have meat on hand you can make it meatless by swapping the ground beef for an extra can of beans. Shelf cooking for the win!
  • Tuxedo Soup – It has a fancy name, but is so easy to make with pantry staples! You won't believe how quickly you can pull off a yummy home cooked meal. This dinner requires only 5 minutes of prep, which simply consists of dumping ingredients in a pot. Easy peasy!
  • Easy Taco Soup – So full of flavor and so filling! Perfect for when you need something the kids will like but don't have time for a trip to the grocery store.
  • Lentil soup – Sometimes lentils don't get the respect they deserve, you know? Shelf-stable, mild flavor, full of protein and fiber…an excellent staple to have on hand to make a delicious lentil soup! This recipe from The Kitchn is sure to please.

Pasta Pantry Meals

Pasta will always be one of our main go-tos when it comes to shelf cooking! Dried noodles are cheap, have a long shelf life, and are so versatile. These are some of our favorites that we think you'll love, too!

  • Spaghetti – A classic! Stock up on inexpensive noodles and jarred spaghetti sauce to keep on hand for busy or low-energy evenings. You can fancy things up with ground meat or meatballs, or just stick with noodles and sauce. Add a salad and some bread on the side, if available, for a complete meal. Bonus: If you end up with leftover spaghetti, check out this post for some great ideas on how to use it!
  • Tuna pasta salad – This pasta salad recipe comes together in a snap and uses almost exclusively ingredients from your pantry! Perfect for a quick dinner or an easy weekday lunch.
  • Pantry Pasta – We love that this dish from Ree Drummond is literally named “Pantry Pasta” thanks to all the pantry-friendly ingredients! With pesto, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and olives it will feel sophisticated but be surprisingly easy to pull together.
  • Buttered noodles – The ultimate quick and easy dish! Cook up any pasta on hand, add some butter, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper if you'd like. Super simple, but warm and satisfying!
  • Baked ziti – We love this tasty, crowd-pleasing recipe! Easy to make with basic ingredients. Pro tip: Double the recipe and freeze the extra! This meal can be frozen for up to 6 months and is wonderful to reheat when cooking dinner feels too difficult. These disposable foil pans mean you don't have to do dishes, either!

Pantry Meals With Mexican Flavors

White platter with three chicken, corn, and salsa tacos placed on it. - Shelf Cooking

Shelf cooking doesn't have to be bland and boring! These south of the border inspired meals are full of flavor and ready to go in no time!

  • Black bean and rice burritos – In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup of water, 1 can of Rotel, 1 can of black beans (undrained), and 1 cup of instant rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Slap some in a tortilla with cheese, sour cream, and avocados. Bam! Dinner is done!
  • Chicken enchiladas – This meal can be easily put together with pantry staples such as canned chicken, cream of chicken soup, diced green chiles, tortillas, and cheese. Pair with our yummy Mexican rice!
  • Crockpot salsa chicken – Would you believe that this delicious recipe only requires 3 ingredients?! Not only is it easy to throw together with food staples you probably have on hand, it's excellent for food prepping and freezing to make other meals later on (like the chicken taco nachos below!).
  • Chicken taco nachos – Crack open some canned chicken (or pull some already cooked chicken from your freezer), mix with a little taco seasoning, and throw on top of tortilla chips on a sheet pan. Cover in shredded cheese and pop the pan in the oven until nice and melty. Garnish with whatever you have on hand – olives, jalapeños, diced green chiles, sour cream, lettuce, salsa….so easy and so delicious!
  • Mexican haystacks – There are a bunch of Mexican haystack recipes that call for some variation of tortillas or rice, beans, corn, and other shelf-stable components that are quick to throw together. A Google or Pinterest search should help you find something that fits your needs!

More Pantry Meal Ideas

That's right, we're not done yet! We have more great ideas for meals you can make when it feels like there's nothing to eat…you know what we mean? With shelf cooking, there's ALWAYS a yummy option if you know what to look for!

  • Baked potato nachos – Nachos are always a reliable go-to when groceries or energy are running low. Mix it up a little by creating these tasty baked potato nachos with things you can easily pull from the freezer and pantry.
  • Red beans and rice – A classic Southern comfort food that will easily fill hungry bellies! Pair with a salad and some cornbread to make it a meal.
  • Potato Chickpea Curry – Change things up with the savory flavors of a curry! Made with loads of canned goods, it's easy to make and easy on the wallet. Try out this recipe from Well Plated.
  • Tuna patties – Similar to a hamburger patty, tuna patties are a great way to utilize pantry ingredients when the family is feeling hangry. We like this easy recipe from Family Fresh Meals.
  • Baked potato bar – Oh potatoes, where we would be without you? This shelf-stable root vegetable is always there for us in a pinch. Bake some in the oven or microwave and create a baked potato bar for a hearty, cheap, and easy dinner! Set out toppings like canned chili, bacon bits, olives, leftover roasted veggies, sour cream, and shredded cheese for a fun DIY meal.

Graphic with two images, the top image with three chicken tacos on a white platter, and the bottom image is a white bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce. There is text in the middle that says "20 Quick & Easy Pantry Meals. Use What You Have!" - Shelf Cooking

Share Your Favorite Pantry Meals

There you have it, friends! 20 recipes that you can make using ingredients you likely have in your pantry. Who knew that there were so many delicious options without having to run to the grocery store?!

Have you tried any of the recipes listed above? What are your favorite pantry meals? Leave a comment and share your creativity and best tips!

Still needing inspiration? Check out these posts for more amazing meal ideas:

  • If turning on the oven or stove isn't an option, check out these 21 No-Cook Dinners for a tasty meal your family will love.
  • These 10 Easy Tuna Recipes will make you rethink that humble little can of fish! Delicious and full of options.
  • If you're looking to elevate your grilled cheese sandwich game, we've got the best hacks in this post!

Now, pat yourself on the back for being a shelf cooking queen!