Shopping From Your Pantry: Make a Tasty Meal With the Ingredients You Already Have!

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Woman looking for food items in pantry and holding a can

Let’s put your frozen peas and canned goods to use! 🙌

With limited availability in grocery stores due to the coronavirus pandemic, cooking an appetizing meal can be a bit of a challenge. However, I’m here to tell you that there are actually a lot of creative and tasty ways to utilize the less popular food items that you already have on hand.

Grab a bag and head to your kitchen to do some “shelf shopping” with me!

Lettuce, turkey burgers, and peas in a grocery bag in kitchen

I “shopped” my own shelves and here’s what I bagged…

I’ll be honest, my fridge, freezer, and pantry are looking a little lackluster right now. BUT, I still managed to find a few golden ingredients, and you will too! Maybe you’ll even discover a new recipe that you love.

Follow along to see what meals you can concoct with limited ingredients.

Miscellaneous vegetables in refrigerator drawer

Find recipe with ingredients you already have on hand.

Don’t know what to make with the items in your fridge and pantry? Visit one of these resourceful recipe-finder websites:

Once you’ve selected the ingredients you have on hand, you can explore hundreds of recipes to put them to use!

Here’s what I grabbed from my shelves that I’m putting to use:

List of available food items

Produce: Use it before you lose it!

Nobody likes wilted lettuce and mushy tomatoes. While shelf shopping, try to utilize your produce while it’s still fresh. With limited items, I was able to serve my family a tasty burger bowl this week featuring:

Lettuce and sliced tomatoes on a cutting board with knife

  • Turkey burger
  • Chopped romaine lettuce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salsa
  • Tomatoes
  • Rice from leftover Chinese food

burger bowl ingredients sitting on kitchen counter

It’s not the fanciest meal, but it’s flavorful, protein-rich, and quite filling!

Here are a few more simple recipes to use up your produce:

chicken stir fry with veggies in large pot

Woman in front of pantry holding can of beets

Scour your supply of canned and frozen veggies.

Things like canned or frozen peas and corn might be your best friends right now. You’d be surprised how versatile basic ingredients like these are. Another tasty recipe that I created after shelf shopping included:

  • Tofu
  • Sweet potato
  • Frozen peas
  • 2 egg whites
  • Sour cream
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Sweet potatoes, peas, egg whites, and tofu in a bowl on kitchen counter

Multi-ingredient bowls like this are so easy to throw together and won’t leave you feeling hungry. Pick a protein, a veggie, and a carb, throw in a little sauce or dressing and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded meal.

Woman holding leftover white rice in kitchen

Don’t throw out leftovers!

I’ll be honest, my family is not the biggest fan of eating last night’s dinner for lunch, but my leftover rice is not going to waste! When shelf shopping your fridge, look for items that can be repurposed for something new and flavorful. Also separate leftover food into portions and store properly so nothing dries out or spoils quickly.

Want to take the ultimate challenge in creating pantry meals?

While you’re in the food-saving spirit, check out our Financial Boot Camp which features a dedicated challenge to creating easy meals with what’s in your pantry! You’ll also discover additional money-saving tips to help get you on your way to a frugal lifestyle.

Woman standing in front of pantry holding Panko bread crumbs

Don’t underestimate bread crumbs.

Bread crumbs have been a go-to for me lately and come in handy when I need to make vegetables or casseroles more appealing to my kids.

putting broccoli tot in ketchup

Check out this list of yummy recipes you can create with them:

Coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, sesame seeds and salt + pepper sitting on counter

Get saucy!

All out of the ranch, salsa, alfredo, etc.? There are still some savvy ways to spruce up your meal without them. If you’ve never whipped up your own dressing or sauce, fear not. It’s easier than you think. Here are a few simple DIY dressings and sauces you might like:

salad dressing in jar with vinegar and whisk

  • Honey balsamic sauce: Mix balsamic vinegar with olive oil, honey, and a little salt and pepper.
  • Sesame coconut dressing: Toast sesame seeds in coconut oil and add a little salt and pepper—so simple but so good!
  • East homemade alfredo sauce: Heat milk, grated parmesan, sour cream, and garlic salt on the stove.
  • Lemon Dijon dressing: Mix lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic salt, and olive oil in a bowl.

Also, be sure to check out Lina’s fave 5-minute salad dressing and try making our homemade Italian seasoning dressing packets!

These take less than 10 minutes to make and they all taste great on salads and build-your-own bowl meals.

scooping ramen noodle casserole out of dish

Go casserole crazy!

Casseroles are a great way to make a quick meal for the whole family and you likely already have a number of useful ingredients in your pantry. They often taste better the second day, too – so don’t throw out those leftovers!

Check out the Ramen casserole I made with random ingredients I had on hand –


  • Canned tuna
  • Pasta or rice
  • Cheddar cheese soup
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Shredded cheese
  • Ramen noodle crunchies
  • salt & pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees.

fork taking bite of chicken broccoli casserole

Pictured above – Collin’s fave meal, low-carb chicken and broccoli casserole. So good!

Every pantry, fridge, and freezer looks different, but hopefully, shelf shopping gives you some mealtime inspiration!

Looking for ideas to stay entertained at home? Check out these inexpensive ways to keep things lively!

Join The Discussion

Comments 11

  1. MrsGarfield

    Funny, I always say that I am shopping when I am in the garage gathering products (we have a pantry there).

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      That’s awesome!

    • EmilyMab

      Thanks Jacks! I’m going to try it tomorrow. 😊

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for the helpful comment!

  2. Blue

    Thanks for this. It’s nice to see some new ideas for meals. I shop from my freezer and pantry all the time. A trip to the grocery store is 40 miles for me, so I always need to meal plan.

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Glad you enjoyed this post Blue! I couldn’t imagine being 40 miles from a grocery store!

  3. Pat Goff

    Edwards has always been stocked. Most of the time they even have toilet paper but you can only get one. If there were two people in your party (my brother and I) they still only let you get one. LOL I didn’t have any problems but I couldn’t be picky. Sometimes I had to take name brand as there was no store brand and sometimes I had to take store brand cause they were out of name brand but they still had it. LOL They are always sanitizing and have notices up about social distancing.

  4. LS

    Great recipe ideas! Many thanks!

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      So glad you liked those ideas LS. Hopefully you can try some of them soon!

  5. Richy

    Nice post. I used supercook heavily when I wasn’t much of a cook and wanted to expand my meal ideas as well. It blew my mind with how many recipes I could make or the versatility of just a few ingredients.

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