Next Week's Meal Plan

5 Easy Pantry Dinners Our Food Stylist Is Eating This Week

published Mar 28, 2020
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Credit: From Left to Right: Maria Siriano, Joe Lingeman

In normal life, I live off of leftover food made at work. I’m a food stylist and, after a recipe is photographed, I package up the leftovers and take them home. In this new normal (which still feels really weird), I’m working from home and, for the first time in my adult life, I actually have to plan out my meals in advance.

I’m not just cooking for myself; I’m cooking for my boyfriend and his mother, the two loved ones I am staying with for the foreseeable future. I want to make sure they are well-fed; to help create some routine and to show them that, like family, I will take care of them. If my cooking can bring some comfort to them during this stressful time, then I plan to do just that.

With limited access to groceries, I’ve created a week-long meal plan of simple recipes that lean heavily on pantry staples. It’s perfect for individuals who are cooking through their pantry and trying to feed a small family food that is comforting and easy. Here’s what I’m planning to cook this week.

Credit: Maria Siriano

Monday: Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

I’ve always loved canned chickpeas and now I love them even more. The recipe calls for diced celery and onion, but the salad is super-flexible and can be made with just about anything you have on hand. Diced bell peppers, tomatoes, and shallots would all work wonderfully. Any leftovers can be stashed in the fridge, so it’s a good recipe to double and eat throughout the week.

Get the recipe: Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Tuesday: Cacio e Pepe

I’m especially excited to cook this pasta for my boyfriend and his mother. The pasta is nothing more than cheese, pepper, and pasta, but it feels like so much more. It’s a quick pantry pasta that feels luxurious, and it takes hardly any time to throw together. Three ingredients, 20 minutes, and one pot — it’s the epitome of fast fancy.

Get the recipe: Cacio e Pepe

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Wednesday: One-Pot Tomato Chickpeas and Orzo

Chickpeas make a comeback, adding a pop of protein, while hearty orzo makes a risotto-like base that is stick-to-your-ribs comforting. If you don’t have orzo pasta on hand, you can use any small pasta shape, such as ditalini, treccine, and farfalline (mini bowties). If you don’t have fresh basil on hand, you can omit it or simply swap it out with any other fresh herb.

Get the recipe: One-Pot Tomato Chickpeas and Orzo

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Thursday: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

This soup makes use of dried black beans, an ingredient often shoved to the back of the pantry and forgotten about, to create a comforting soup perfect for dipping bread into. Garnish it with whatever you have on hand — I like shredded cheese, cilantro, and sour cream — or keep it simple.

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Friday: Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

The perfect way to end the week is with a cheesy, comforting casserole. This one takes only 20 minutes to prep. The recipe calls for three cups of shredded, cooked chicken, and you can use whatever cut of chicken you have. If you only have chicken breasts, go ahead and cook them off and shred them. If you’re stuck with thighs, those will also work. It’s a flexible recipe that you can piece together using what’s on hand.

Get the recipe: Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

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 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!

Trying to cook out of your pantry more this week? Start here.

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