Rainy-Day Play: 5 Things You Can Make with Pantry Staples

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Pantry-friendly recipes are there for you when you need to put a quick meal together. It’s usually something familiar and probably something the whole family enjoys, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it more interesting. Turn to the pantry for inspiration on adding variety to your dishes and making a recipe feel new again. Here are five easy ideas for pantry staples.

1. Family Pasta Night

There’s nothing easier than boiling some dried pasta and topping it with some jarred marinara sauce or a quick marinara made with canned tomatoes. Add flavor and texture by toasting Italian seasoned breadcrumbs in a skillet while the pasta cooks. Make it feel special by tossing the pasta in the sauce and serving it family-style with the toasted breadcrumbs as a garnish on top.

2. Breakfast for Dinner

Fluffy, light pancakes are the perfect blank canvas ready for splashes of color and flavor. Everyone in the family can personalize their pancakes with stir-ins and toppers. Go savory with pepperoni or ham and cheese stir-ins, with marinara or hot honey as a topper. Or go classic sweet with fruit, candy, and nuts stirred into the batter, and maple syrup, jam, and whipped cream as toppers.

3. Soup

Soup is one of the most adaptable recipes you can make. It’s the perfect place to put leftovers or pack in veggies the whole family will eat. It can be different every week you make it depending on what’s in the cupboard and refrigerator or freezer. Make it towards the end of the week, so you can work in anything you need to clean out of the fridge.

10-Minute Black Bean Tacos (Image credit: Lauren Volo)

4. Family Mexican Night

Tacos, quesadillas, burritos — no matter what you decide to serve, you’re probably going to want a good side dish. Look no further than the can of black beans or pinto beans in your cupboard. Within minutes, you can easily turn them into homemade refried beans. They’re especially good with shredded cheese sprinkled on top just before serving, so it gets melty and delicious.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

5. Cookies

Dessert deserves some attention from the pantry too. Start with your favorite chocolate chip recipe, then go crazy with the stir-ins. Try chocolate chips, nuts, potato chips, pretzels, marshmallows, oats, dried fruit, roughly chopped candies, or sprinkles.