Monday, September 22

Turn Simple Pantry Items Into Quick Dinners

As I was going through my pantry, fridge and freezer last week, I came across items I had bought with every good intention of using. However, I have yet to use them and they are still taking up valuable space. Mr.P
hates this....... 

Do you have a pantry filled with one hit wonders? I did a bit of research over the weekend and I think you will be surprised what wonderful dishes you can prepare with such ordinary items.  These ten culinary staples may sound specific in their usage, but keep them in your kitchen and the cooking possibilities are endless!

Frozen Butternut Squash
  • Toss with short pasta, sausage and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
  • Add to risotto.
  • Puree or mash with aged Cheddar cheese for a great alternative to mashed potatoes.
Herbed Cream Cheese
  • Spread on salmon, top with artichoke hearts and bake.
  • Toss with short pasta, shrimp, cherry tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and basil.
  • For a quick appetizer, spread on pear half, drizzle with honey and broil.
Can of White Tuna
  • Toss with pasta and fresh lemon juice.
  • Make Nicoise Salad by combining boiled red potatoes, blanched baby green beans, flaked tuna, small black olives, halved anchovy fillets, quartered boiled eggs and torn baby cos lettuce leaves.
  • Combine crushed garlic, flaked tuna, finely diced tomato, chopped basil, lemon zest and baby capers. Season with pepper. Spoon onto grilled ciabatta and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
  • Easy Tuna Melt
Italian Dressing
  • Toss with cold rice, garbanzo beans and chopped red bell peppers for a rice salad.
  • Use as a marinade for chicken breasts.
  • Toss with couscous, shredded rotisserie chicken, green onions and fresh spinach.
Jarred Roasted Red Bell Peppers
  • Puree with garlic, nuts, olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for roasted red pepper pesto.
  • Toss in pasta, rice or omelets.
  • Put on pizza, focaccia or grilled sandwiches.
Fig Preserves
  • Whisk with soy sauce, garlic and lime juice; pour over pork loin or chicken; grill or bake.
  • Spread on a small wheel of Brie cheese and bake; serve with good quality crackers or toasted bread. 
  • Heat and drizzle over ice cream. Yum.
  • Dollop on bruschetta with goat cheese, pop under a broiler for a few minutes.
Frozen Tortellini
  • Cook, then saute until browned and crunchy and toss with a green salad.
  • Toss with beans and dressing for pasta salad.
  • Add to chicken broth with vegetables for a quick soup.
  • Combine with sautéed garlic, fire-roasted tomatoes and basil.
1 Pound Ground Beef, browned and drained
  • Mix with a jar of your favorite pasta sauce and serve over cooked spaghetti. 
  • Easy Nacho Salad, my favorite! Layer on a plate: tortilla chips, beef, refried beans, salad greens, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes, black olives, chopped onions and grated cheese. 
  • Mix beef and a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes into a pot of prepared mac-n-cheese.
  • Quick hamburgers or sloppy joes.
Fresh Eggs
  • Top a slice of buttered bread with a fried egg, a bit of your favorite cheese, a good crank of black pepper and an additional slice of buttered bread; grill and enjoy a fried egg and cheese sandwich.
  • My favorite late-night dinner - scrambled eggs and cheese!
  • Quick Spaghetti Carbonara: Cook bacon, onion and garlic together; add it with a bit of the bacon fat to a pot of cooked spaghetti that's been drained. Add 2-4 beaten eggs to the pot and stir over a low flame; quickly add 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and taste for salt. 
Balsamic Vinegar
  • Top sliced tomato, basil and mozzerella with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Makes a great quick Caprese salad.
  • Mix 2 cups balsamic vinegar with 1/2 cup brown sugar and reduce by half over medium heat, about 20 minutes. Makes a great glaze for poultry, fish, fruit or pasta. 
  • Mix with good olive oil, salt and pepper for an easy and wonderful salad dressing.


  1. It's always good to have more ideas for eggs beyond just scrambled, I like that sandwich idea!

    1. Skye, I LOVE EGGS! In all of their forms, well except raw.......

  2. Periodically I have to clean out the pantry of items that will be expiring soon. I end up putting them in a laundry basket or milk crate and trying to come up with creative ways to use up the items before they go off. I like your list. Makes me want to make butternut squash risotto. :)

    1. That's sort of like the contest, 'What's In The Bag?' at the state fair of Texas. Which I adore. They fill a bag with items (either sweet or savory) and you have to come up with a recipe. You have to really be on your toes!

  3. I love cooking out of the pantry! I usually have tons of beans and tomatoes that I need to use up or rotate. And always some odds and ends of pasta packages. I love to make minestrone with all those goodies.

    1. Ooohhh Helen that's a GOOD one! Adding it to my list!

  4. I love easy ideas in the kitchen. Thanks for linking up at the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party.

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