A Week of Easy Dinners from the Pantry
In an effort to curb my spending on food, I’m looking to my pantry for dinner inspiration this week. Cooking from the pantry is also a time-saver, because it means fewer shopping trips. I am a big believer in curating a well-stocked pantry and keeping long-lasting basics in the fridge and freezer, because I know that if I have beans, canned tomatoes, broth, rice, eggs, and cheese on hand I can make a week’s worth (or more!) of dinners without setting foot into the grocery store.
Technically the pantry encompasses the cabinet or closet that holds all of your edible dry goods. I also consider the freezer and long-lasting fridge staples (like eggs and cheese) a part of my pantry arsenal. This week’s Power Hour is all about using what you already have on hand to squeak out another week between grocery bills. Here’s how I make a week of pantry-friendly dinners.
Meal Prep Goals
- Dinner: A week of satisfying dinners that lean on staple ingredients from the pantry.
- Nutritional Goals: This week’s plan focuses on preparing pantry-friendly dinners, so you can eat well-balanced meals that taste fresh without a big grocery store trip.
Meal Prep Plan Snapshot
- Feeds: 2 adults and 2 kids
- Prep Time: About 2 hours
- Meals Covered: About 70% of dinners (no weekend dinners)
- Weekday Cooking Required? Yes, but most ingredients are prepped and ready for the dinner rush.
These are the ingredients you’ll need to prepare a week of pantry meals. Most of the ingredients in these recipes are long-lasting items that you can stash in your pantry or freezer, or fridge-friendly items that are probably already on your weekly grocery list. Consider garnishes like fresh herbs optional this week and feel free to experiment with cheeses and spices you already have on hand. As always, ingredients like kosher salt, black pepper, olive oil, and vegetables oils are not included on in this list.
- Produce: Fresh basil (optional), 1/2 red onion, 1 avocado, 7 ounces baby spinach, fresh rosemary, 6 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, 2 yellow onions
- Deli/Bakery: Crusty bread, 3 ounces pancetta or bacon
- Dairy: 6 large eggs, 1 wedge Parmesan cheese (including rind), 6 ounces pepper Jack cheese, 1 1/2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese, sour cream, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 (16-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
- Dry Goods: Hot sauce, 2 (24-ounce) jars tomato sauce with meat, salsa, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, paprika, 1 pound (2 cups) arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice, 1/3 cup basil pesto, 8 corn tortillas, 12 no-boil lasagna noodles, 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, 9 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, 1 cup dry white wine (or equal amount chicken broth)
- Freezer: 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done
- Heat oven: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake risotto: While the oven heats, cook pancetta (or chopped bacon) until crisp in a large, oven-safe Dutch oven, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Once pancetta is cool, transfer to a small storage container and refrigerate. Sauté onion and rice in the rendered fat, deglaze with wine (or chicken broth), and then add 4 cups chicken broth. Bake until the rice is slightly underdone, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool, transfer to a storage container, and refrigerate.
- Prep soup: Prepare the white bean soup according to this recipe through step 3 when the ingredients are combined. Do not bring to a boil; instead transfer to a storage container, let cool, and refrigerate.
- Make tomato sauce: Prepare the tomato sauce for Eggs in Purgatory. Cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper and cook 1 more minute. Add 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool, and transfer to a storage container.
- Assemble lasagna: Assemble the lasagna according to this recipe in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate.
- Prep beans for tacos: Combine beans, minced red onion, cilantro, cumin, paprika, and salt together in a bowl or food storage container. Use a fork to lightly mash the beans. Cover and refrigerate. Grate pepper Jack cheese and place in a separate container and refrigerate.
- Monday, Oven-Baked Risotto: Return the risotto to the pot and add the remaining 1 1/2 cups broth, Parmesan, and butter. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until the rice is heated through, al dente, and reaches desired consistency. Stir in frozen peas and store-bought pesto. Serve topped with crispy pancetta and more Parmesan cheese.
- Tuesday, 5-Ingredient Lazy Lasagna: Take the lasagna out of the refrigerator, then arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Bake, covered, until heated through, then uncover and bake until the cheese is melted and golden-brown.
- Wednesday, Crunchy Black Bean Tacos: Heat oil in a skillet then add one corn tortilla. Once the tortilla is warm, spoon about 1/4 cup of the bean filling over half of the tortilla. Top with grated cheese. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling and press down so that it holds its shape. Cook until browned and crisp on both sides. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese, and beans.
- Thursday, Eggs in Purgatory: Return tomato sauce to the skillet over medium heat and simmer until the sauce is hot and no longer raw-tasting, 10 to 15 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to create 6 depressions in the sauce, cracking an egg into each divot. Spoon some of the sauce over the eggs to cover. Cover and cook until the egg whites are just set, 6 to 8 minutes. Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil (optional).
- Friday, White Bean Soup: Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in spinach, then ladle into bowls and top with grated Parmesan.
Power Hour Meal Prep is the series where we help you put it all together. We show you how to eat well during the week with an hour or two of Power Hour prep over the weekend. Every plan is different; mix and match to find your own personal sweet spot.
This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Power Hour: A Week of Easy Dinners from the Pantry