Pantry Cooking: Three Quick Dinners Recipes for Weeknights

Menus, Recipes, Worknight Dinners
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hands cooking salad

I haven’t been grocery shopping in about two weeks or something. Which means, it’s time for pantry cooking.

Life gets busy, or you’re out of town, or you’re sitting on the couch weighing the options between dallying on Facebook or putting on some decent clothing to go to the store.

Facebook always wins.

A girl’s gotta eat though.

And so does a girl’s husband.

And both of them are trying to save money.

(The key word there is trying). So lately, the routine has been to go stand blankly in front of the fridge or the pantry and try to come up with a super creative dinner using only tortilla chips, spaghetti sauce and brown ‘n’ serve sausages. Gross.

Realistically though, we all have certain things that take up permanent residence in the pantry or fridge.

And even more realistically, life doesn’t always allow for last-minute grocery runs, if it allows for grocery runs at all.

Therein, it seems like a good idea to have some pantry-friendly options for those nights (or weeks) when fresh or gourmet is out of the question and you’re desperately looking for that big red “Easy” button.

Of course, I am not advocating a grocery store boycott, as I think fresh ingredients are vital and should be used when – and as much – as possible.

So here are some simple and delicious dinner options, that, for the most part, can be made using ingredients that you probably have sitting at home right now (with the possible exception of the meat).

I can vouch for all of them, having made each at one point or another. The first are variations on recipes that I grew up with and still make.


Baked Honey Mustard Chicken from Creme de la Crumb


Lazy Lasagna from Olga’s Flavor Factory


Crispy Bourbon Glazed Salmon from How Sweet It Is

(Disclaimer: I realize that while Jim Beam seems to have made himself comfortable on my pantry shelves due to my rampant pecan pie-making, bourbon or whiskey may not really qualify as a pantry staple for everyone).

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  • Reply
    Meal Planning 101
    April 17, 2013 at 4:17 am

    […] Source […]

  • Reply
    Pretty. Good. Food.
    June 3, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Oh man, now I’m hungry!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Olga @ mangotomato
    June 2, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    all these look great. I especially like the combination of mustard and curry.

    Can I give a tip? I learned this from Sara Moulton: use woton wrappers for a lazy lasagna: they are super thin, easy to work with and don’t require pre-cooking.

  • Reply
    Sawsan@chef in disguise
    June 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I am bookmarking the tuna pasta immediately!
    I loved all your pantry is a situation we all face and your options are heavenly

  • Reply
    Robyn | Add a Pinch
    June 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    These all sound delicious and perfect for pulling together a quick meal. I love to keep items like this on hand in the pantry for when we return home from a trip. No need to worry with the grocery store and you can pull it all together quickly. Thanks for sharing these beautiful recipes. I can’t wait to try the chicken.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I actually need to shop out of my pantry more often! It’s packed full and I keep going shopping. I love your honey mustard chicken, sounds really good!

  • Reply
    June 1, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I love cleaning out my pantry and then eating it! 🙂 I then feel like some weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can finally go to the grocery store and do some damage. 🙂

    I’m going to have to try the lazy lasagna… hubs will fall in love again!

  • Reply
    June 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    This is so awesome. What a great post for everyone and that salmon looks mag picture perfect. You always have the best how tos and tips. your rock.

  • Reply
    Gina (The Candid RD)
    June 1, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Lazy lasagna?! This is right up my alley! Great looking recipe, and lazy meals are my thing 🙂
    I’m not a fan of anything bourbon. The smell nauseates me. I think I may have had a bad bourbon experience in high school or something….it’s really too bad because I know it’s great to cook with.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

    These are some great pantry recipes, Maris. Mine needs a good sorting out right now as well. Wonder what I’ll find? A trip to the grocery store is getting to be so expensive!

    I like the curry powder in the honey mustard sauce….

  • Reply
    Nami @ Just One Cookbook
    June 1, 2011 at 3:14 am

    How wonderful and what a perfect timing… I’m bookmarking lazy lazagna and tuna pasta right away. I need something easy to cook this week as I don’t feel like standing in the kitchen. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    This is a great reminder to check and see what is in the pantry before planning the next few days meals. Thanks for this Maris!!!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Scandifoodie
    May 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I love this! What a great recipe round-up, that salmon sounds especially delicious!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    What simple yet flavorful recipe..I m sure to try that mustard chicked and tuna pasta..they look amazing!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen
    May 31, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    My mom always make lazy lasagna and I think it tastes so good! I have been in the mood for tuna pasta lately. Yours looks so good!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I’m always trying to use what I have in the pantry as well, which definitely forces me to be creative with my meals. All of these dishes look delicious, and I love the minimal ingredients. Great post, as usual. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 31, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I am like you, always stocking stuff in the pantry and fridge, and my husband always reminding me that it is just two of us living in the house….I need to do what you did…stop going to the grocery and use up what I have. You came up with great recipes and they all look delicious. Love them all…
    Have a great week ahead Maris 🙂

  • Reply
    May 31, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I haven’t been grocery shopping in 2 weeks either and have no excuse!!! This is a handly recipe list for someone like me 🙂

  • Reply
    The Teacher Cooks
    May 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    The whole post looks very cookable for me. I think that I may have to do all of them!

  • Reply
    lynn @ the actor's diet
    May 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    i love pantry meals!!!

  • Reply
    Blond Duck
    May 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I’m printing out the whole post!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    The funny thing is that I think I do have almost ALL of these ingredients necessary for these dishes minus the salmon. These truly are great pantry meals. I love the addition of curry to you honey mustard chicken. It’s a great twist on my typical one.

  • Reply
    Lucy @ The Sweet Touch
    May 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I think I could handle most of these. In fact, I am making my grocery list today – thanks for the menu!:)

  • Reply
    May 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    you seem to stock a lot of stuff in your pantry at all times! i think if i don’t go grocery shopping i wont be able to make such awesome meals as these with what i have in the pantry! btw, that lasagne recipe looks great – all the recipes ive tried take ages to make!

  • Reply
    Nelly Rodriguez
    May 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Pantry Meals are pretty much like going on Chopped that night! Being resourceful and creative is one of the best traits to have as a cook! Love all of these recipes!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I’m a HUGE fan of pantry meals. I find myself without a dinner plan at least once a week and am always looking to add to my list of go tos! The lasagna sounds yummy!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    This is such a great recipe to make with ingredients we probably all have sitting in our pantry

  • Reply
    Heavenly Housewife
    May 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Hubbs and I both think this tuna pasta looks amazing. I am bookmarking it 😀
    *kisses* HH

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