Here are some quick and easy kid-friendly pantry meals you can make with staple ingredients from your cupboard, refrigerator, and freezer. Included are recipes as well as meal ideas that don’t require exact measurements.
As someone who’s struggled with anxiety for most of her life, it’s hard for me to keep calm during this time. However, I’m arming myself with God’s Word to anchor and sustain me during these trying times. Some of the verses that I’m constantly meditating on are: 2 Timothy 1:7. 2 Thessalonians 3:16, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:6-7.
I’m also learning in a very powerful way that there’s extraordinary power in a motherly spirit. Even though I want to just hide under the covers, I’m driven more than ever to do everything I can to keep my family safe, comfortable, happy, and well-nourished during this time.
I’ve been getting a ton of requests to share what I’ve been stocking up on as well as quick and easy pantry meals that the entire family can enjoy. So here I am at 2 am determined to share whatever I can. Because we are all in this together. We are stronger together!
- What to do before heading to the store
- My definition of pantry meals
- Here’s what I have in my pantry
- Easy Pantry Meals
- Easy Recipes from MJ and Hungryman
- Freezer-Friendly Meals in my e-cookbooks
- Food Storage
What to do before heading to the store
Take a look at what you already have on hand. I know the temptation is there to run out and buy anything and everything in sight, but you might be surprised by how much you already have on hand. So take a moment to take inventory.
Prioritize. Focus on stocking up on those staples that not only have a long shelf life but are versatile and lend themselves well to a lot of applications – pasta, soups, chili, casseroles, stir-frys, etc.
Stick to your usual staples. Don’t get items that you normally wouldn’t just for the sake of having extra food on hand. Stick to your go-tos. You will save money and time as you’ll be able to come up with meal ideas easily.
Be considerate. As I walk down the aisles with my toddler, it’s so incredibly discouraging to see empty shelves. Never mind the emergency stash. There are people who are struggling to find food to get through TODAY. Get enough for your family but don’t hoard as if this is the end of the world.
My definition of pantry meals
I know when you hear the word pantry, a small room or cupboard where you store dried goods come to mind. However, I consider pantry meals to be any delicious and hearty meals you can throw together easily with dry goods or room temperature stable ingredients AND fridge/freezer essentials. So basically ingredients that have a long shelf life.
Here’s what I have in my pantry
I feel such a sense of accomplishment from having a well-stocked cupboard and freezer so we really didn’t purchase too much extra. I mainly stocked up on the refrigerator essentials, like yogurt and milk, making sure the expiration dates were at least a month out, as well as root vegetables.
- Canned tomato products: diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste
- Jarred pasta sauce (esp. love the no-salt-added Trader Joe’s red sauce and marinara)
- Canned coconut milk
- Pumpkin puree
- Vinegars (balsamic, apple cider, rice wine)
- Pasta (of various shapes and types – white, whole wheat, plant-based)
- A variety of grains (oatmeal, rice, couscous, farro, barley, quinoa)
- Seaweed sheets
- Spring roll wrappers
- Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter)
- Canned beans and lentils
- Canned salmon and sardines
- Cooking oils (olive, avocado, sesame)
- Dried herbs and spices
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
- Baking ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch)
- Crackers and chips
- Granola bars
- Whole-fat milk
- Whole fat plain Greek yogurt
- Cream cheese
- Cheese (cheddar, mozzarella)
- Tofu (silken and extra firm)
- Condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.)
- Asian sauces (soy sauce, sriracha, oyster, hoisin, stir-fry, gochujang, miso)
- Root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets)
- Onion, garlic
- An assortment of frozen vegetables and fruits
- Whole nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
- Seeds (chia, flax)
- An assortment of meats (we get it delivered from Butcherbox. This is an affiliate link, meaning I earn a small commission, from the company, not by you, if you purchase the products through these links. I only promote products that I trust and feel confident in serving to my family!)
- Bread, bagels, tortilla
- Chicken nuggets
Easy Pantry Meals
- Oatmeal with various toppings
- Greek yogurt with various toppings
- Egg sandwich: Scrambled eggs + frozen veggies + cheese + bread/bagel/waffles
- Egg veggie pancakes
- Toast/bagel: with nut butters, mashed avocado, mashed beans, jam, cream cheese, seeds, fruits, etc. Here are some unique and healthy toast toppings to try!
- Breakfast hash: frozen veggies + ground meat/tofu/beans + spices (e.g. dried oregano, paprika, cumin, etc.)
- Baked goods (make extra to keep in the freezer) + yogurt, milk, eggs, fruits, etc.
Lunch and Dinner
A Well-Balanced Meal Formula
You can really build any meal with this formula:
Protein of choice (meat, chicken, eggs, fish, beans, tofu, lentils etc.) + pasta/grain/bread/starchy vegetable + vegetables and or fruits + dressing/sauce (or liquids for soups) + seasonings
no-recipe recipe ideas
- Loaded potatoes (white or sweet potatoes): cook in the oven or microwave, cut in half, fill with protein of choice + cheese + salsa + butter + Greek yogurt/sour cream
- Pasta casserole: cooked pasta + frozen veggies + protein of choice + cheese + seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes
- Stir-fry: Protein of choice + frozen mixed vegetables + grain of choice + any stir-fry sauce (store-bought or homemade)
- Pesto pasta/grain bowls: pasta/grain + vegetables + dressing/sauce (jarred or homemade – some ideas below)
- Meatballs + pasta/grains/bread + favorite sauce (store-bought or homemade)
- Chili: Saute onion. Add ground meat (if using) + veggies + canned tomatoes + chili powder + cumin + beans. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until thick
- Quesadillas: Add oil/butter to skillet. Saute onion and whatever veggies you have on hand + protein o f choice. Season with your fav spices. Toast one side of tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Spread the cooked mixture over half the tortilla and fold in half. Flip quesadilla and toast, pressing down until browned and cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, yogurt, sour cream, etc.
- Pizza – with homemade/store-bought dough or bread/naan/tortilla + sauce of choice + protein of choice + veggies + cheese
Easy Recipes from MJ and Hungryman
- Instant pot Korean chicken and potatoes served with rice or multigrain rice
- Baby-Friendly Korean Bulgogi
- Korean Beef and Broccoli Quinoa
- Vegetarian Orzo Primavera
- Asian shrimp tofu cakes + grain + veggies
- Mexican chicken and quinoa casserole
- Vegan African Peanut Stew
Freezer-Friendly Meals in my e-cookbooks
My ecookbooks were specifically created to include baby-friendly recipes made without salt or added sugar. However, they are flavorful enough for the ENTIRE family to enjoy together. One meal for the whole family! And it so happens that the majority of them are pantry meals. You can swap out fresh veggies with whatever frozen or canned vegetables you have on hand.
Baby Led Weaning Comfort Meals
Top left/right: Thick and hearty beef and bean chili / Chicken and shrimp barley paella
Bottom left/right: Baked pizza quinoa beef meatballs / Philly cheesesteak
Kid-Friendly One Pot Meals
Top left/right: Potato corn chowder with pasta / Enchilada pasta
Bottom left/right: Beef stroganoff / vegan turmeric curry with couscous
Baby and Me Meal Plan
In this 2 week meal plan, you will find lots of quick and easy sandwich, quesadilla filling ideas as well as versatile sauces you can enjoy with pasta, grains, etc.
What truly sets this meal plan apart from others is that for EVERY recipe, there are descriptions AND visuals to teach you how to modify and serve the recipes to babies and toddlers for several diff age groups (6-9 mo, 9-12 mo., 12-24 mo.)
Here’s a very in-depth post on how to safely and efficiently store prepared meals and leftovers in your fridge and freezer.
I hope you found this post helpful! I plan on sharing more pantry recipes on my Instagram feed so be sure to follow me there!