The current state of the world requires us to get a little extra creative in our day-to-day lives—particularly when it comes to meal planning. If reduced trips to the store for fresh produce and recipe-specific ingredients have you in a dinner slump, re-check your pantry: it likely has more options for healthy eating than you think!
Soup season may be giving way to spring, but there’s no denying that a hearty pot of soup is one of the easiest ways to stretch ingredients and feed your family a healthy, filling meal. Not only are your flavor options near limitless, soups are also a fantastic way to bring life to boring pantry staples. And you don’t need to be a 5-star chef to knock your soup out of the park!
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Here are some great options:
- Fresh produce looking a little worse for wear? Don’t let it go to waste when a gorgeous, flavorful vegetable soup can give it new life. For a hearty vegetarian option, pair whatever vegetables you have on hand with dry pantry staples in this pantry-based Minestrone soup. If you want to add an international twist to your soup, take some time to learn about flavor bases from this helpful infographic—you can make a world of dishes with only a few key ingredients when you use different spices.
- Chicken soup has long reigned as a universal comfort food; it’s also known to stave off illness. But many canned versions are bland or unexciting, so look at recipes to get inspiration for add-ins. For instance, you could up your chicken soup game by adding some heat, as in this Jalepeño Lime Chicken Soup from Pinch of Yum. If you have cans of green chiles, tomatoes, and corn, as well as some leftover tortilla chips, consider breaking out the crockpot and whip up some Chicken Tortilla Soup from The Cookie Rookie.
- Pantry overflowing with canned beans? Bean soups are tasty, filling, and chock full of protein! This Black Bean Soup from Delish is an easy go-to, but you can also explore the many bean soup ideas at Smitten Kitchen, try Feel Good Foodie’s Mediterranean White Bean Soup, or knock out this 15 Bean Soup by Well-Plated by Erin.
Over the years, many of us have collected a mixture of rice, quinoa, barley, and other grains that often remain untouched in the pantry. But what are you waiting for? Grains are high in fiber, B vitamins, and minerals, making them a delicious, filling option—particularly when we’re minimizing our trips to the store.
Here are some tasty recipes that star grains and are fairly easy to whip up:
- Breakfast porridge (hot or cold): One benefit of being home is that many of us finally have time to put together more healthy, nutritious breakfasts. We love a warming dish in the morning with our café au lait—and this warm breakfast bowl with quinoa is sure to satisfy. Don’t have quinoa? Other grains can be given a similar treatment. Prefer something cool for breakfast on warmer days? Try overnight oats, chia pudding, or a bircher.
- Healing chicken & rice soup: Maintaining a healthy immune system is always important, but it feels especially critical right now. The inclusion of ginger, turmeric, garlic, and dark greens give this comforting yet healthy rice-based soup an extra dose of immunity-boosting power.
- Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Barley: This super-food laden dish is also super tasty—and it’s a great option for anyone who has been wondering what the heck to do with their dried barley. Full of veggies, aromatics, and delicious spices, this colorful recipe will definitely hit the spot. The concept will also work with other grains. Simply follow standard directions for cooking whatever grain you have on hand, then toss with your choice of roasted veggies, cheese, spices, and a simple salad dressing.
Dried or canned bean recipes
Beans are a versatile, protein-rich ingredient that can be used to create filling, scrumptious dishes. In addition to staples like chili, burritos, or homemade hummus, there are many creative ways to make the most of your bean stash.
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- Vegan slow cooker chickpea tikka masala: This vegan-take on a classic is made simple and relatively hands-off with a slow cooker. Fresh ingredients like ginger and onion can be swapped out for powdered varieties.
- Black bean brownies: If you have a gluten sensitivity or are simply trying to make healthier choices by cutting out bleached flours, these black bean brownies are a must-try. With over a thousand stellar reviews, this recipe promises a rich, fudgy result that you’ll feel good about sampling.
- White bean and tuna salad: This spring-ready, healthy dish is flavor-packed, protein-rich, and easy to make. Bonus: you can knock out more pantry-products as this recipe includes canned tuna, plus the fresh green beans can be swapped for canned ones.
We hope these ideas have given you some inspiration and help you make the most of what’s in your pantry. Happy cooking!