Some weeks you don’t make it to the store (or the farmers’ market). Don’t panic: You can still make a fantastic homemade meal with pantry staples, and it doesn’t need to be dull. A few tricks, like using fresh citrus and spices, liven up even the simplest ingredients.
With a few inventive uses of spice, you can easily transform pantry staples like chickpeas and canned tomatoes into a memorable meal. This curry relies on garlic, onion, cumin, paprika, ginger, and coriander to add bold and bright flavors to the humble chickpea. Get our Indian Chickpea Curry recipe.
Canned tomatoes are one of the most versatile ingredients in our kitchen. This recipe turns them into a fantastic soup with a kick of heat from red pepper flakes. Add basil leaves to give the soup a fresh flavor. Serve it with crème fraiche to cool down the heat and give it a pretty final garnish. Get our Spicy Tomato Soup recipe.
Pasta is the saving grace of an unprepared cook. Even when you haven’t gone to the grocery or planned a meal, you can still make an excellent dinner with things you have on hand. This classic Italian pasta is made hearty with the addition of salty pancetta, and best of all, it doesn’t take too much from prep to plate. Get our Bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe.
A filling and delicious meal made with simple pantry staples: Put this on your must-make list. Braising cannellini beans in broth with some aromatics gives them a deep, hearty flavor. A dash of white wine vinegar adds some complexity and brightens up the dish. Use Swiss chard to get your greens in, or swap the chard for any other sturdy leafy vegetable. Get our Braised White Beans with Chard recipe.
You’re hungry and craving something warm and comforting, but you forgot to shop. The fridge is empty and you’re starting to panic. Enter spaghetti carbonara. This brilliant recipe uses nothing but dried pasta, cheese, garlic, eggs, and butter. Every time we make it, we’re surprised by how a few simple ingredients can yield such a sophisticated-tasting dish. Master it now and never go hungry again! Get our Desperation Spaghetti Carbonara recipe.
For a meal that’s easy, cheap, and requires no fancy ingredients, scrambled eggs can’t be matched. This is our go-to recipe for when the fridge feels empty and we don’t have the energy to scrounge for more complicated food. If you want to dress it up a little, use whatever you have on hand, like cheese or bacon or mushrooms. Get our Basic Scrambled Eggs recipe.
Versatile for any season, this pea soup relies on lemon juice to brighten up the otherwise simple roster of ingredients. When fresh peas are in season, use them to give the soup full-bodied flavor. In the winter, frozen peas work wonderfully. Get our Green Pea Soup recipe.
Header image: Braised White Beans with Chard from Chowhound
Posie Harwood is a New York City-based writer and photographer. She grew up on a farm and likes raw milk, warm bread with butter, and plenty of fresh air. Follow her on Instagram, and her blog 600 Acres.