July 23, 2024


Outstanding health & fitness

25 dishes to make from your essential pantry during shelter in place

You may have discovered, in this first week of sheltering in place, that your family eats more than you thought, especially when cooped up and stressed out. My family of four needs a dozen meals a day, plus coffee and snacks and, because now is not the time to give up sugar, we need dessert, too. And, like most of you, I’m trying to go to the grocery store as infrequently as possible.

You’ve probably already stocked up on some dry goods, and while you can live on pantry goods alone, things will be a lot more pleasant with some vegetables and fruit. Look for those that don’t need to be refrigerated, since fridge space may be at a premium: Beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, apples and citrus can all hang out at room temperature for a long time.

Frozen vegetables are useful. Frozen fruit, too: mangoes, bananas and berries are perfect for smoothies, or a pie (pie will help). Hardy fresh herbs, such as parsley and rosemary, can pep up any pantry meal, as can garlic and lemon juice or zest. Once you’re stocked up with the essentials, here are 25 ideas for what to make with what you have on hand.

Pantry essentials

Beans (dried or canned), lentils (dried), split chickpeas/chana dal (dried)

Canned tomato products (diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, marinara)

Canned fish (tuna, sardines, anchovies)



Coffee, tea

Olive oil, vegetable oil and/or coconut oil


Mustard and mayonnaise

Peanut butter, tahini or miso

Soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)

Fish sauce

Thai curry paste

Coconut milk

Boxed chicken and vegetable stock


Parmesan cheese

Garlic, onions, lemons and hardy fresh herbs

Frozen vegetables, frozen fruit

Shelf-stable tofu


Something spicy: red pepper flakes, chile crunch, gochujang, hot sauce


Legumes, shot from the top on a blue background. Vibrant pulses including colorful beans, lentils, chickpeas, a flat lay composition
Legumes, shot from the top on a blue background. Vibrant pulses including colorful beans, lentils, chickpeas, a flat lay compositionGetty Images / iStockphoto

Canned white beans, drained and processed in the food processor with lots of olive oil, salt and pepper and some minced fresh rosemary: Instant sandwich spread or dip.

Canned white beans, coarsely mashed with a can of tuna, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add parsley or basil if you have it.

Saute an onion and a clove of garlic in olive oil. Add a bit of ground cumin. Stir in a can of (undrained) black or pinto beans. Simmer until hot; mash some of the beans with the back of a fork if you want to make it creamier. Serve over rice or with tortillas or tortilla chips.

Combine a few cans of garbanzo beans, a few crushed garlic cloves and a few cups of chicken stock in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then spoon into bowls and shower generously with Parmesan cheese and season with cracked pepper. Top with a poached egg, if you like.