Pantry Recipe Ideas for Eating Well During a Pandemic

Our country and world are in a bit of a crisis mode right now, and because I don’t have useful skills as a healthcare professional, mask seamstress, or 3d-printed ventilator expert, I decided to use my practical cooking skills to help people the best way I know how: with food. I’ve compiled a collection of meal ideas and recipes that consist entirely of products that can be found in your pantry or freezer, things you are likely to have on hand anyway (like milk), or things that have a fairly long shelf life (like onions and potatoes).

My personal goal is to shop for groceries as infrequently as possible to limit potential Coronavirus exposure for myself and others, and hopefully this post will help you to do the same. If you are anything like me, then it’s also important for mental health to have some assurance that you are not going to be stuck eating canned soup every day. Besides, if you’re able to continue eating a healthy variety of foods, your immune system will be that much stronger if you do end up being exposed to the virus.

Pantry Breakfast Ideas


My family has been enjoying the boxed protein pancake mixes from Aldi’s for a bit more nutritional value than standard pancakes. If you don’t have an Aldi store nearby, the brand Kodiak Cakes makes a more expensive version that can be found at other grocers. (This is something that can normally be found easily on Amazon too, but has been in short supply since the Covid-19 panic buying.)

Of course, if you don’t have a boxed pancake mix, it’s easy to make your own. The New York Times’ Everyday Pancakes recipe is a popular, simple option. You can use this base recipe and add in any extras that strike your fancy, such as blueberries (fresh or frozen) or chocolate chips. Pumpkin pancakes are great any time of year, too!


Muffins are another great pantry breakfast option. You can use a boxed mix if you have access to one (again, Kodiak Cakes has a selection– I recently made their blueberry muffins with toddler-approved success).

Here are some from-scratch recipes that I have tried with success:
Maple Pumpkin Muffins by Cookie and Kate (I added chocolate chips)

Photo Credit: Cookie and Kate

Healthy Blueberry Muffins by Well Plated

Photo Credit: Well Plated

P.S. I promise this post is not sponsored by Kodiak Cakes; they just have some great healthy options that are tasty! (If you’re reading this, Kodiak Cakes Marketing Person who wants to send me some free pancake and/or muffin mix, then it’s very easy for me to edit this post. XD)


Photo Credit: Sheila Pedraza Burk from Burst

A healthy breakfast staple, there are practically unlimited options when it comes to eating oatmeal. If I’m making it in the morning, then I like to use steel-cut oatmeal with cardamom and cinnamon, a bit of honey, and optionally, whatever fruit is on hand. If I have time (and importantly: motivation) to prep the night before, I enjoy cold overnight oats. The following are my favorite recipes:

Vanilla Chai Overnight Oats
Vanilla Matcha Overnight Oats
Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats

Other Long(ish) Shelf-Life Breakfast Items

Breakfast Meats (Sausage, bacon, etc)

Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

Most breakfast meats are smoked and/or cured so they have a fairly long shelf life. My family has been loving the Never Any! Apple Maple Chicken Breakfast Sausage from Aldi’s. Its expiration is usually about 2 months from when we buy it so we’ve eaten it before I have gotten the chance to freeze any, but it would freeze well if needed! Bacon is another great option. Note that my family generally tries to avoid cured meat, but we are making some temporary exceptions for quality of life.


Photo Credit: Sheila Pedraza Burk from Burst

I try to keep eggs stocked in the fridge at all times, because they are so versatile as a protein source by themselves, but also used in many baking recipes. Freshness varies, but the expiration date is usually about a month out from purchase date when purchased from a supermarket.

Pantry Dinner (or Lunch) Recipe Ideas

Sandwiches, etc.

Salmon Cakes

Photo Credit: Feast and Farm

Grilled Cheese

Try using Irish butter for an extra decadent treat if you can find it on your next grocery outing!

Sweet and spicy tuna salad

Photo Credit: Beth at Budget Bytes

Skip the green onions to make it more pantry friendly!

Pepperoni Rolls

Photo Credit: The Kitchen Wife

I couldn’t leave pepperoni rolls off of this list. WV represent!

Cold Cut Sandwich

Try a Croque Monsieur if you are feeling fancy! (use whatever cheese you have on hand)


Photo Credit: Miguel Andrade on Unsplash

Use whatever fillings you like. If you want to try something other than the traditional Mexican flavors, try this kid-friendly recipe for Pizza Quesadillas.

Soups and Beans

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili

Photo Credit: Beth at Budget Bytes

This is my go-to chili recipe, even when I am not limited to using pantry items! Budget Bytes is one of my favorite sources for weeknight recipes.

Vegetable Barley Soup

Photo Credit: Beth at Budget Bytes

This is another recipe from Budget Bytes!  As Beth states, you can substitute another grain (like farro) or small pasta (like ditalini) for the barley, or honestly whatever you have available. Beth also gives lots of options for including other veggies you might have on hand.

Rice and Beans

Rice and beans is a pantry staple dish that achieves the perfect trifecta of being healthy, delicious, and cheap. You can make it with just rice and beans if your pantry is severely limited– black beans, red beans, garbanzo…. whatever you’ve got! I like to add the following if available: onion, bell pepper (I always keep a bag or two of chopped bell peppers in the freezer), garlic, diced canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn (frozen or canned), lime juice, cumin, fajita or taco seasoning.

Photo Credit: Dragne Marius on Unsplash

Protein Packed Black Bean Lentil Soup

Impromptu Crock Pot Tomato Soup

Photo Credit: Well Plated

Realistically, use whatever type of canned tomatoes you have on hand. You can also substitute rice for the orzo.

Wintertime French Style Split Pea Soup

I’ve not made this recipe yet, but am planning to this weekend. It’s perfect because you can use leftover ham in sandwiches!


Tuna Noodle Casserole

One Pan Spanish Rice Bake

Photo Credit: Catz in the Kitchen

This recipe is a bit of a stretch on the pantry recipe idea, but it’s great if you have beef. You could substitute whatever meat you have available (frozen), or possibly even lentils in a pinch (I have not tested this).


Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

My friend Nate introduced me to this red sauce recipe that seems too simple to possibly work. But it’s amazing, and I am pretty sure my toddler would eat it for every meal if she could. Use whatever canned tomatoes you have in the pantry in a pinch. Cook some dried pasta and add some frozen meatballs to make it a true pantry meal staple.

Macaroni and Cheese

Photo Credit: Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

I could eat Velveeta’s Shells and Cheese by the ladle; it’s a guilty pleasure. Sometimes I add a drained can of tuna or a bag of steamed broccoli (a freezer staple) to incorporate some actual nutritional value. I’m happy to report that the addition of broccoli is even toddler-approved in our house!

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

This recipe is easy: pasta + canned chicken + frozen steamable broccoli + your jarrred alfredo sauce of choice. If you’re feeling really fancy and you have the ingredients, you can make your own Alfredo sauce from scratch. Top with grated Parmesan cheese if you want to feel like you actually put in some effort. 😉

Quick Chili Mac

Use ground beef if you have it, or whatever meat you have on hand. Cooked lentils could work, too.

Top 10 Foodie Gifts Under $20


With the holidays rapidly approaching, I know that I’m not the only one out there scrambling to finish up (or begin) gift shopping. Hopefully this list of my top 10 foodie gifts under $20 will at least give you somewhere to start for the cook/chef/food lover on your Christmas list.


Set of 6 Nesting Measuring Cup Matroyshkas
– $10
One can never have too many sets of measuring cups, and these are super cute!


Microplane Grater
– $12
This grater is a safe bet – multiples are handy to have!

Acrylic Cookbook Holder
– $10
I bought this for myself last year, and it has proven invaluable! No more sauce-stained cookbook pages, and no more fighting to keep the paperback cookbook pages open!

Silpat Non-Stick Baking Liner
– $20
Makes for easy baking cleanup – no greasing necessary!



Microwaveable Smores Maker
– $7
OK, this is just downright awesome. Would make a great stocking stuffer for the kid (or kid at heart)!


Bormioli Rocco Dedalo Decanter
– $15
For the fancy folks on your gift list!


Oxo Good Grips Cookie Scoop
– $13
One of the most useful gadgets, especially around the holidays! I use it for scooping cupcake batter in addition to making uniformly-sized cookies.


Oster Electric Wine Bottle Opener
– $15-$20 (depending on color)
Another handy gadget for the wine lover on your list!

Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters
– $20
For the baker who has everything!


Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book
– $17
Who doesn’t love a cookie cookbook?

Joy Bauer’s Pumpkin Pancakes

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Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Creme

Autumn is finally here, and with the changing of the leaves, so changes my diet to include more pumpkin. It’s practically a requirement, am I right? Really, pumpkin is an extremely healthy ingredient (rich in the anti-oxidant beta carotene) that could (and should!) be used year-round. There is just something about this time of year, though, that makes me crave all things pumpkin. Pumpkin Custard Pie? Check. Pumpkin Scones? Ooh, need to make those this year. Pumpkin Bread (with Cream Cheese Frosting)? Yes, please! Maple & Pumpkin Spice Latte? I’ll take two! Anyway, you get the idea! I might be a little bit obsessed.

Today’s recipe comes from Joy Bauer’s cookbook, Slim & Scrumptious. You can find Joy’s other books, including the new Food Cures, at her website. When Joy contacted me to partner up and allowed me to use some of her recipes on my blog, I was over the moon with excitement. Joy is all about cooking meals that are healthy and easy to make without sacrificing flavor or texture, which is something I also strive to accomplish with most of my recipes.

To celebrate, I am giving away TWO (2) free copies of Slim and Scrumptious!

There are two ways you can enter (and yes, you can enter twice!).

  1. Post a comment on this recipe with your favorite or least favorite pumpkin dish (make sure to include a valid e-mail address!), or
  2. “Like” lolfoodie on Facebook (do this by going to the lolfoodie Facebook page and clicking the “Like” button). Note that to enter via Facebook “Like”, you must “Like” the lolfoodie page and not just this post. If you want to use Facebook to enter and your profile is set to private, please send an e-mail to cathy at lolfoodie dot com with your name so that I can confirm.

The winners will be randomly selected by a random number generator. I will close the contest two weeks from today, on Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EDT and announce the winners shortly afterward.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Creme

Anyway… onward, to today’s recipe! Once again, thank you to Joy Bauer for allowing me to publish her recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes on my blog!


Check out that mise en place! I’m pretty sure this would have earned a gold star from Anne Burrell. The truth? I was waiting on my camera battery to charge. Don’t be fooled into thinking that I am not actually a trainwreck.


(I also chopped and toasted the pecans while waiting on the camera battery to charge.)


(Step 1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until well combined.


(Steps 2 & 3) In a second large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until blended. Add the pumpkin, yogurt, brown sugar, and vanilla extract, and whisk until combined. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir together gently until just combined and smooth (no dry streaks should remain), taking care not to overmix.

Note: Save the leftover egg yolks for something like these Chocolate Pots de Creme. You can also save any leftover pumpkin for use in another recipe- for ideas, check out last year’s Pumpkin Dessert Recipe Roundup!


(Step 4) Liberally coat a large skillet or griddle with oil spray. preheat it over medium heat. When the pan is nice and hot (after about 2 minutes), ladle about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the surface. The batter will be thick, so it may help to spread it out with the back of a spoon.


Cook the pancakes until they are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Recoat the skillet with oil spray between batches to prevent the pancakes from sticking.

At this point, you can follow instructions 6 & 7 to prepare the maple creme (super easy, just combine the cream cheese and maple syrup) and finish assembling the pancakes with the chopped pecans.

MMmmm, no words for this. Try not to eat your computer screen.


Enjoy! 🙂

Don’t forget to enter book giveaway! Just to reiterate the giveaway details:

I am giving away TWO (2) free copies of Slim and Scrumptious!

There are two ways you can enter (and yes, you can enter twice!).

  1. Post a comment on this recipe with your favorite or least favorite pumpkin dish (make sure to include a valid e-mail address!), or
  2. “Like” lolfoodie on Facebook (do this by going to the lolfoodie Facebook page and clicking the “Like” button). Note that to enter via Facebook “Like”, you must “Like” the lolfoodie page and not just this post. If you want to use Facebook to enter and your profile is set to private, please send an e-mail to cathy at lolfoodie dot com with your name so that I can confirm.

Good luck!!

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