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Easy, Healthy Meals from Pantry Staples

One Mother RunnerOld Mother Hubbard

Went to the cupboard,

To give the poor dog a bone.

When she came there,

The cupboard was bare,

And so the poor dog had none.



Old Mother Hubbard cFullSizeRenderouldn’t find a bone for her dog, but what do you do when your cupboard’s are bare and you need to get dinner on the table for your family?This week has been extremely busy for me, as I’ve been working on an aggressive timeline for a manuscript submission, work has been filled with meetings and important deliverables, I’m planning the birthday party for my kids this weekend and both my kids will be in a wedding next weekend. Ack!! All of this translates to me not having an extra moment to go to the grocery store. As you can see from the picture, my cabinets are truly bare, which makes dinnertime a bit challenging.

I have a few tips for throwing together dinner when you are down to the bare nubbins in your pantry:

  1. Free choice night – My kids love it when I tell them that dinner is “free choice.” Everyone gets to choose their own dinner, which is either leftovers, peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese. It not only makes life easier because I don’t have to cook, but it helps clean out the leftovers from the fridge.
  2. Breakfast for dinner – I love breakfast! It is my favorite meal of the day and I love making breakfast for dinner. Even if my pantry is bare, I usually have the ingredients to throw together pancakes and eggs. We pull out the big griddle and make Mickey Mouse pancakes with frozen fruit thrown in for added nutrition.
  3. Vegetarian Night – A dinner of rice and beans, vegetarian chili or spaghetti with tomato sauce can be filling and nutritious without meat. Try having Meatless Monday each week to get into the routine of a fiber filled dinner without meat.
  4. Staple Dinner – There are certain staples that I try to keep in the house, like flour, eggs, milk, bread, broth and canned veggies. Even if I can’t make a full grocery run, I’ll pick up a few items to get me through a couple nights of dinner. I love to make soup with the leftover wilted veggies in my vegetable drawer, along with a few pantry staples. You can even make a fresh loaf of bread to go with it with only a few ingredients.

Try this recipe below for a simple soup and bread dinner.

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 10 cups chicken broth
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 large stalk celery
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 4-oz. whole-wheat egg noodles
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken breast or 2 cans canned chicken breast (keep canned chicken in your pantry as a staple)
  1. Bring broth to a boil in a dutch oven. Add carrots, celery and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  2. Add noodles and chicken, simmer for 8-10 minutes.

  Easy Staple Bread Recipe

  • ¼ cup nonfat milk
  • 5 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 tsp butter
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 cups flour (mixture of whole-wheat and white)
  1. Mix the yeast with water, per instructions on the packet.
  2. Melt butter in the microwave and add it, milk, sugar and salt to the yeast and stir it. Add two cups of flour to the mix. Stir, adding ¼ cup of flour every minute or so. Keep stirring until sticky and dough cleans the sides of the bowl.
  3. Knead for ten minutes, then shape into a ball, place in a bowl coated with nonstick cooking spray and cover with a cloth. Let sit in a warm, draft-free place for an hour.
  4. The dough will now be double in size, punch down and lay out on floured surface. Roll up and place in a bread pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for another hour.
  5. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Let it cool completely before slicing.
Do you have any go-to recipes for when your pantry is bare? Any tips for feeding a family on pantry staples? I’d love to hear from you!

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