Next Week's Meal Plan

5 Cheap and Easy Pantry Dinners

updated Mar 16, 2020
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(Image credit: From Left to Right: Joe Lingeman, Emma Christensen, Maria Siriano, Joe Lingeman)

Like so many other families right now, mine is leaning especially hard on our pantry and our freezer for simple dinners that are easy, satisfying, and delicious. Since my husband and I are both working from home for an indefinite amount of time, that means we’re eating and cooking at home for the foreseeable future. I’ll be turning to ingredients like dried lentils, tortillas, the remnants of several boxes of opened pasta, broth, rice, and an assortment of frozen vegetables, and using recipes with plenty of flexibility, so we can pull meals together with whatever we have on hand.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Monday: Slow Cooker Sausage and Lentil Stew

I’m usually low on energy at the start of the week, so a Monday night slow cooker drop dinner feels like a wonderful gift. I toss everything into the slow cooker in the morning, and at the end of the day dinner is ready. There are ample leftovers, which we’ll eat for lunch throughout the week.

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Sausage and Lentil Stew

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Tuesday: Fried Cauliflower Rice

Like traditional fried rice, this version is a vehicle to use up any kind of veggies, fresh or frozen, that you have handy. I skip the bacon, add a couple spoonfuls of cooking oil instead, and also some leftover shredded tofu.

Get the recipe: Fried Cauliflower Rice

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Wednesday: Huevos Rancheros Tacos

When I was a kid, my mom turned to scrambled egg sandwiches when she didn’t want to cook. For me, it’s tacos. I can always count on having eggs and beans on hand, so they’re my go-to anytime I want to use up tortillas. I’ll serve these topped with guac and Greek yogurt.

Get the recipe: Huevos Rancheros Tacos

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Thursday: One-Pot Creamy Broccoli Pasta

I have several open boxes of pasta shapes in the pantry, although none have quite enough to be a meal on their own, so I’m using this creamy one-pot recipe to use them all up. With a mix of shells, elbows, and penne, it’s not the prettiest dinner, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

Get the recipe: One-Pot Creamy Broccoli Pasta

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Friday: Instant Pot Weeknight Chicken and Rice Burrito Bowls

My husband and I are skipping takeout and making our own burrito bowls at home tonight, which also helps me use up some rice, beans, frozen corn, and salsa. There are also just enough tortilla chips in the pantry to round out our bowls.

Get the recipe: Instant Pot Weeknight Chicken and Rice Burrito Bowls

Meal planning isn’t always easy — especially if you’re just getting started. But we’re firm believers that it’s the secret to stress-free weeknight dinners. We want to help you find inspiration and ease some of the pain points that come with getting dinner on the table night after night, whether you’re cooking for one or a family of four or five. Every week we share a new meal plan solution specifically customized for you from reader requests or from a guest contributor, for Next Week’s Meal Plan!

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