Spending years as a working mom, I knew the value of pantry meals and we happily ate a lot of them. Still true today as I don’t always feel like running out to the store when it’s snowing, right? Today, for instance, I’m making Hold My Beer Slow Cooker Chili. My husband knows: I never get tired of chili.
By pantry, I don’t necessarily mean made with all shelf-stable ingredients, but have always included in the description the meats and other basics I keep in the freezer, as well as foods with longer fridge or larder storage lives– eggs, milk, hard cheeses, yogurt, onions, potatoes, carrots, winter squash, other root vegetables, cabbage, apples, oranges, and so on.
“Long lines and grocery stores emptied as customers…” WASHINGTON POST, March 2, 2020
I haven’t been to the store for a few days, but I see photos featuring empty grocery shelves online and on tv. Seems to mostly be a run on water, Purell, and toilet paper–not necessarily in that order. My own stock of food — and I know everyone doesn’t do this — always includes quarts of homemade frozen soup or stew, frozen meat, frozen fruit and vegetables (I like bags of berries, frozen spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, green peas, corn, and butternut squash), frozen baguette or other bread, frozen butter, dried and canned beans, pasta, rice, lentils, oats, polenta, barley, chicken, vegetable, and beef broths, jars of minced garlic and ginger, mayonnaise, mustards, olive oil, pickles, pimentos, canned green chiles, coffee, tea, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, canned tuna and chicken, bags of onions, potatoes, and carrots, winter squash, flour, sugar, other baking necessities like chocolate chips!, canned or shelf-stable milk, whole grain crackers, protein and dark chocolate bars, spices, dried herbs and, of course, basic cocktail mixes for true emergencies… With a backup like that, I seldom worry during power outages, storms, illnesses, and so on. Monday we had a “shelter in place” in our neighborhood while police chased a criminal, so while I didn’t expect to be housebound, I was. Lately our city is feeling more and more like the wild, wild west. ( I also have a stove that can be lit with matches if the power is out and a wood-burning fireplace for heat or cooking.)
Order margarita mix from amazon.com. Let’s talk about the bare necessities.
The fears surrounding a need for social distancing during a coronavirus outbreak have, however, made me think twice about not only my own supply, but the supplies of my family, friends, neighbors, and readers. I looked through some of my favorite and easy nearly-pantry meals and decided to re-write 6 of them so that they are even more cupboard friendly. Some feature frozen meat, but also may have an option for a canned substitute. (I include links to the original recipes, too!) Below the recipes, there are handy links about food for the duration, the quarantine in general, and then a short list of nearly ready-to-eat store-bought foods you might want to buy. (PRINT that list here.)
Having a well-stocked pantry is a healthy, money and time-saving idea for anyone any time, so should you only need these for camping or for a day when the car is in the shop and you forgot to buy dinner ingredients, they’ll still be worthwhile. But if the time comes to stay in for a week or two, you’ll be ready to cook a few tasty meals from ingredients you have on hand. In fact, even if you don’t have these exact items on your shelves, you may get enough ideas to keep you from living solely on peanut butter and crackers, tuna straight from the can, or Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Not that you couldn’t do that, but wouldn’t it be more pleasant and maybe even fun to be able to cook up a tasty meal or even a batch of blueberry muffins? Not having to make a grocery run if many in your community are ill just makes sense, too. So think about making your list and be sure to include your favorite foods — breakfasts, too — and don’t forget drinks. (I only bought water–4 gallons– because they’re working on our neighborhood water system this week and we might have a sudden outage. I am counting on our city’s water supply to remain viable.) Shop soon and try these pantry versions of More Time at the Table favorites:
Shown above as originally cooked and posted. Original recipe and post here.
PANTRY INGREDIENTS NEEDED: Olive oil, salt, peppers, dried herbs, jarred or powdered garlic, canned or frozen chicken, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, canned black beans, frozen/canned corn (optional), shredded cheese (it’s freezable) for garnish (optional)
EASY CHICKEN-BLACK BEAN SOUP FROM THE PANTRY
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup EACH: chopped onion, carrot, celery–fresh or frozen
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin or more to taste
- 1/2 cup white wine or water
- 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth (1 quart/32 ounces)
- 2 15-ounce cans low-sodium black beans–drained and rinsed
- 1-2 cups cooked shredded chicken or 1-2 12.5 ounce cans canned chicken, drained and broken up
- 1/4 cup frozen or canned corn–optional
- Hot sauce to taste — Start with 2 drops; add more as needed.
- OPTIONAL GARNISH: Grated Cheddar Cheese or Crumbled Tortilla Chips
- Heat oil over medium heat in a 5-quart heavy pot with lid. Cook onion, carrot, celery, and crushed red pepper, garlic or garlic powder, one teapoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, oregano, cumin, in covered pot, stirring occasionally, for five minutes until softened. Add white wine or water and let cook down 3-4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, broth, beans, chicken, and corn, if using; bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with garnish, if desired.
PANTRY INGREDIENTS NEEDED: Olive oil, frozen ground turkey or Italian Sausage or canned chicken, onion, celery, cabbage, powdered garlic, salt, pepper, dried thyme, rosemary, and sage, chicken broth, fresh, frozen or canned butternut squash, fresh, frozen, or canned carrots, fresh, frozen, or dry tortellini, grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese–optional
ITALIAN SAUSAGE-BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH TORTELLINI FROM THE PANTRY
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound each ground turkey and Italian sausage (or 1 # Italian turkey sausage). Can sub 2 12-ounce cans canned chicken or 1 1/2 cups diced canned ham
- 1/2 cup Onion, fresh or frozen
- 2 Cloves garlic or 1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon each dried thyme and rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
- 1/2 cup white wine (or water)
- 4 cups chicken broth, low sodium (can sub water)
- 6 cups water
- 2-3 drops Hot sauce
- 2 1/2 cups diced butternut squash, fresh or frozen
- 2 carrots, trimmed and sliced or 1 cup frozen/canned sliced carrots
- 8 ounces cheese tortellini, fresh, frozen or dried
- GARNISH: grated Parmigiano Reggiano, optional
- Heat an 8-quart soup pot over medium flame for two minutes with the olive oil. Add your choice of meat and cook 5 minutes, stirring. Tip in the onion along with the garlic or garlic powder, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Cook, stirring, for another two minutes and add the wine or water. Simmer until water or wine is reduced by half. Pour in broth and/or water and hot sauce. Bring to a boil, stir in the butternut squash and carrots, and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are nearly tender, adding more broth or water if soup becomes too thick. Stir in tortellini and cook according to package directions until tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with cheese, if desired.
Above: Original Post and Recipe for Pizza at Home–Use this with options listed below.
PANTRY INGREDIENTS NEEDED: Olive oil, garlic, onion, tomatoes, salt, pepper, dried thyme, oregano, basil, shredded mozzarella cheese (can be frozen), grated parmesan cheese, optional. Can sub canned pizza or marinara sauce.
There is nothing like homemade pizza. If you’re an accomplished pizza maker without your regular ingredients or have never made pizza before, this recipe is for you. While the recipe appears long, the process is not difficult; it just requires time and patience. No need to rewrite the whole shebang for pantry ingredients per se, I’ll just say that you can use dried basil, frozen onions, and jarred or powdered garlic (in a pinch), or canned sauce, and the pizza will still be better than most pies you’ll get delivered. Want toppings? Thinking pantry meal, add cooked frozen Italian sausage, cooked bacon or sliced canned ham, shelf life pepperoni or dry sausage, canned mushrooms, frozen chopped onions or sweet peppers, anchovies, olives, and so on. With time on your hands, it just might be the day to make your own pizza. If you’re lucky and have access to fresh greens, etc., there’s a tasty salad on the post, too. Otherwise, steam some frozen green beans and toss them with a perky mustard vinaigrette. By the way: this is why you needed beer on your shopping list!
See recipe NOTES to make the soup on the stove top instead of in the INSTANT POT.
INSTANT POT: Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Ham FROM THE PANTRY
- ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER (INSTANT POT)
- 1 EACH: medium yellow onion, medium unpeeled carrot, medium unpeeled parsnip –or 1/2 cup chopped frozen onion and 1 cup frozen chopped carrots
- 2 stalks celery — or 1/2 cup chopped frozen celery
- 2 cloves garlic or 1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic
- Handful fresh parsley, optional
- 1- pound dry black-eyed peas-rinsed and sorted
- 32 ounces 4 cups EACH: low sodium chicken broth and water or 8 cups water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 shakes hot sauce or to taste
- 1 teaspoon EACH: dried thyme and oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup diced smoked ham
- Thinly sliced green onions–optional garnish
- Add the chopped vegetables and the remaining ingredients (except green onion garnish) to the pot and stir. Secure lid on the pot. Close pressure release valve.
- Select MANUAL and cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Use a natural release to depressurize. Stir; taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot in warmed bowls with a tablespoon of the sliced green onions for garnish, if available. When done serving, press CANCEL.
PANTRY INGREDIENTS NEEDED: Unbleached, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda, eggs or dried eggs (+water), milk or canned milk (or dried milk +water), butter or canola oil, canned orange juice (can sub milk), frozen or canned blueberries.
BLUEBERRY MUFFINS FROM THE PANTRY
- Softened butter or cooking spray for greasing the muffin tin
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup stoneground cornmeal
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind-optional
- ¼ cup melted butter or canola oil
- ½ cup milk or evaporated milk (Or use 1/6 of a cup–2.5 tablespoons– powdered milk + 1/2 cup water)
- ½ cup orange juice (can sub milk)
- 2 large eggs ( Or use powdered eggs.For one egg: 2 tablespoons Whole Egg Powder + 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons water = 1 egg)
- 1 cup blueberries–fresh, canned, or frozen
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Grease a 12- cup muffin tin very well with softened butter and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour through orange rind) and set aside. In another bowl, beat together the wet ingredients (butter – eggs). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just barely combined. Do not over mix. Gently stir in the blueberries.
- Using a greased ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide the batter among twelve greased muffin cups. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the muffins are set, firm, and light golden in color. A toothpick inserted at the center should come out clean. Bang the bottom of the pan firmly on the counter to loosen the muffins and turn the pan upside down onto a cooling rack to remove them. Let sit at least two minutes before serving hot, warm, or at room temperature. Store leftovers in a well-sealed bag or storage container on the counter for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to two weeks.
PANTRY INGREDIENTS: Flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, butter or canola oil, fresh or dry milk, fresh or dry eggs, ground cinnamon and ginger, fresh apple, walnuts. Optional: maple syrup or honey, eggs and bacon.
Apple Pancakes from the Pantry
- 4 tablespoons salted butter or 1/4 cup canola oil–divided (3 tablespoons melted for the batter, 1 tablespoon for griddle or pan)
- 1 cup milk (Or use 1/3 cup dry milk + 1 cup water)
- 1 egg ( Or use powdered eggs.For one egg: 2 tablespoons Whole Egg Powder + 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons water = 1 egg) plus 2-3 more for the fried eggs you’ll make later
- 1 cup unbleached white all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ medium-sized apple, coarsely grated
- 1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts, plus extra for garnish
- Maple syrup or honey, optional
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place plates in oven to warm. Preheat griddle or large cast iron pan over high heat. Meanwhile: In a covered glass measuring cup, melt 3 of the tablespoons of butter in the microwave or use 3 tablespoons canola oil. Pour milk over the melted butter or oil, stir, and whisk in the egg with a fork or whisk.
- In a large measuring bowl or cup, add the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and spices. Mix well with a fork or whisk. Beat in the milk mixture briefly. Stir in grated apple and toasted chopped walnuts until just combined.
- Flick a little water off your fingers onto the hot griddle. If the drops pop wildly, fly up, and disappear, the griddle is ready. Grease the hot griddle or pan with the other tablespoon of butter. Ladle, spoon, or pour out enough batter onto the griddle for each 4 – 5-inch pancake. Cook until lots of bubbles appear on top and the bottom is quite brown. Flip and cook briefly on the other side until done through. Repeat until batter is completely used, placing cooked pancakes on plates in the warm oven.
- When the pancakes are all made, you can top each stack with a fried egg (2 pancakes each for 3 people and 3 pancakes each for 2 people) and bacon, if available. Garnish with reserved walnuts and a drizzle of syrup or honey, if desired.
MORE TIPS, LISTS, AND IDEAS…
FEMA: Food and Water Storage for an Emergency (Inc. Disaster Supplies Kit item list)
Coronavirus Quarantine Kit: What You’ll Need at Home (Oregonlive.com)
StillTasty: Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide (inc safe refrigerator and freezer storage times for most foods)
NO BRAINER FAST PANTRY FOODS/EASY MEALS
- Canned (or in pouches) Tuna/Salmon/Sardines/Chicken/Ham for salads, sandwiches, or wraps (Canned Chicken recipes here.)
- I like Tuna or chicken with canned green beans and mayo–plus a little onion if you have it — for an instant meal–can add rice. (Canned Tuna recipes here.)
- Canned soup, stew, or chili
- (Or combos like: canned tomato soup+canned white beans or microwaved brown rice)
- Canned white, pinto, kidney, or black beans, chickpeas, etc. (Or combos like beans/chickpeas w/ spices/herbs on toast)
- Frozen meals–purchased or homemade and frozen ahead
- Canned vegetables/fruits
- Dried fruit and nuts or trail mix
- Peanut butter and jelly or honey w/ whole grain crackers or bread
- Breads, tortillas, and muffins–purchased or homemade and frozen
- Pancakes/Waffles from mix plus frozen fruit +/or syrup or honey
- Instant oatmeal
- Granola or granola bars
- Powdered Dried Egg mix
- Dry or canned or shelf-stable milk
- Dry salami
- Microwave rice, lentils, and other grains plain or w/ canned or frozen vegetables
- Dried pastas w/ jars of sauce
- You can add canned chicken, tuna, salmon, or ham or frozen ground meat
- There are also frozen fresh pastas and noodles in the freezer section
- Ramen + canned chicken, tuna, or ham
- can add frozen or canned vegetables
- Instant Mashed Potatoes (dry)
- Hummus w/ crackers or vegetables
- Hard cheeses such as Parmesan and Pecorino Romano.
- Bags of grated cheese or cheese to grate at home (freezable)
- Boxed mac and cheese (can add meat or vegetables)
- Amazon best sellers: Canned and Packaged Meats
- Gatorade powder
- Canned juice
Order Canned Salmon from amazon–a terrific value anytime.
I won’t tell you to wash your hands, but will tell you to, “Keep your hands to yourself,” just like mom told you. Oh: add lotion to the list! Cleaning your phone isn’t such a bad idea either. Stay sane and healthy,