Perfect Pantry Dinners

My husband and I both love to cook, especially making dinner for one another. But when he gears up to prepare a dinner he needs advanced planning: look up a recipe, make a shopping list, go to the supermarket and then cook (and make a mess). He’s always amazed at the meals I am able to throw together by using what’s already in the fridge and cabinets.

Admittedly this is not always easy and we’ve ended up with some funky meals from time to time. But one of my tricks is to always keep my cabinets and freezer stocked with a few key staples, and then there’s always something to throw together at the last minute, or when it’s simply too hot to leave your home!

Here’s a few of the staples I like to keep around and some easy dinner ideas:

Pantry Pasta

What can’t you do with some pasta, rice or quinoa!? Use whatever veggies you have lying around (even frozen), and saute in olive oil with onions and garlic. Cook pasta (or rice, quinoa, cous cous, etc.) per directions on the package and toss with veggies, olive oil, salt and pepper. If you’re serving a dairy meal grate some parmesan cheese on top. If you have leftover chicken in the fridge, cut into pieces and throw it right in.

Other easy cabinet items to mix into pasta: chick peas, roasted red peppers, olives, or cannellini beans. One hearty dish and dinner is served!

Diner Dinner

Diner night at home is super easy to throw together with a few things from your cabinets and freezer. I love these sweet potatoes fries from Alexia products, although they make them in a number of different varieties as well. Bread, tuna, mayo and cheese and you have tuna melts! No tuna? Throw some veggie burgers into the oven or pan. You might even want to indulge and make some homemade milkshakes to go along with the meal.

Pizza Night

Pizza night is one of my favorite dinners to put together. I love coming up with different combinations of cheese and veggies such as ricotta, fennel and kalamata olive or spinach, mushroom and goat cheese. But in a pinch, its super easy to throw together a simple cheese pizza. Whole Foods, Trader Joes and even Fresh Direct all sell their own pizza dough which is either refrigerated or frozen. One important tip: make sure to bring the dough fully to room temperature before working with it otherwise you might not get the results you want.

Make sure you keep plain crushed tomatoes or your favorite jarred tomatoes sauce, like Barilla Traditional Marinara Sauce, on hand. You can use these to make a perfect pantry pasta as well. You can also keep a block of mozzarella in the freezer! Just thaw and grate for your perfect pizza.


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