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pantry meals recipes

Pantry Meals Recipes

In this article I share some of the best and easiest (and quickest!) to make pantry meals recipes. Making these inexpensive pantry meals recipes is a great way to use food from your pantry to save money on groceries or use up food that you need to. And making cheap pantry meals is an easy way to save time, too, especially if the alternative is to run to the store or run to a drive-through or to pick up takeout!

Using food you already have is also a great way to save money in order to be able to pay down a debt more quickly!

Your family, even the kids, will love the meals you create with these pantry recipes!

These quick, easy, and tasty pantry meals recipes will help you stretch your money and lower your grocery budget!

Save the image above to Pinterest so that you can easily find these ideas for pantry meals recipes later!


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19 Pantry Meals Recipes

Below are awesome ideas for budget-friendly pantry meals recipes (cheap pantry meals) you can make for your family. These simple dinner recipes are ready in 30 minutes or less!

1. Chicken or Tuna Ranch Mac and Cheese

This is one of my favorite ways to eat good old macaroni and cheese from a box, or you can of course make homemade mac and cheese, too. To traditional macaroni and cheese you add a can or two of chicken or tuna and ranch dressing to taste. (If you are making two boxes of mac and cheese, you can try adding 1/4 cup of ranch to start.)  Yum!


Here is a simple homemade macaroni and cheese recipe:

12 ounces elbow macaroni (or other pasta)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 


  1. Boil noodles as directed.
  2. In a separate pan, melt butter and sprinkle in flour to make a roux.
  3. Add milk, cheese, salt, and pepper.
  4. Combine with noodles. For a creamier texture, add more milk.



2. Vegetable Ramen Pad Thai

For a fun twist on a cheap-dinner staple, try this Thai-inspired dish. All you need are ramen noodles, vegetables, soy sauce, peanut butter, sriracha, and red pepper flakes. If you want a milder version, reduce or leave out the sriracha and red pepper flakes (like I do).

2 packages ramen noodles, Oriental flavor
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cans mixed vegetables (or 1 15 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 tsp sriracha
2 tablespoons hot water

1. Add vegetable oil, canned vegetables, and seasoning packets. Cook for 3 minutes.
2. In a pot, cook Maruchan ramen Oriental flavor noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes.
3. Drain noodles, and add to pan.
4. Mix soy sauce, peanut butter, sriracha, and hot water. Add to pan, and mix together.
5. Divide into bowls, and serve.


3. Pasta Alfredo or Chicken Pasta Alfredo

This is a simple and tasty dish, ready in 30 minutes. It’s great as a one-pot dinner, or we often eat it with toasted garlic bread. Eat with green salad to get in more veggies.


12 oz. linguine or spaghetti noodles
tablespoons butter or margarine
can (10 1/2 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1 large can chicken breast (optional)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Prepare the linguine or spaghetti noodles according to the package directions in a large saucepan. Drain the linguine mixture well in a colander.
  2. Heat the butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, if desired, and cook just until it is heated through, stirring often. You could also add frozen spinach at this point, if you have it, to get in more vegetables.
  3. Stir the soup, milk, cheese, pepper, and linguine mixture in the skillet and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling, stirring occasionally.  Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.


4. Creamy Herb Pasta

This is another tasty pasta dish perfect for a pantry meal! This simple, quick dish is rich and creamy and ready in 30 minutes or less!


8 oz can sliced mushrooms (or 2 4 oz cans)
12 oz fettuccine
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste


1. Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions, and then drain in a colander.
2. While the pasta is cooking, add the margarine and minced garlic to a large skillet. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until fragrant and tender. Do not let the margarine or garlic turn brown.
3. Add the sliced mushrooms, and continue to cook until the mushrooms are heated through and are starting to brown. Turn the heat down slightly to medium-low, add the flour, and continue to sauté until the flour begins to coat the bottom of the skillet and turns golden brown (about 2-3 minutes).
4. Whisk the broth into the skillet with the flour and mushrooms. Whisk until all the flour has dissolved off the bottom of the skillet. Add the basil, oregano, and some pepper. Turn the heat up to medium, and bring the sauce to a simmer to thicken.
5. Stir the milk into the sauce and allow it to return to a simmer. Add about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt or pepper as needed.
6. Add the drained pasta to the sauce in the skillet. Stir to coat, and cook the pasta over medium low heat until heated through. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cooks.


5. Black Bean Taco Salad

Black bean taco salad is another budget-friendly and tasty, easy, and pretty 🙂 pantry meal recipe that you can make in 30 minutes or less! 


For the salad:
  • 3 cups chopped lettuce
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 15 oz can corn, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 green, red, or yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion chopped
For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp ground cumin



1. Place lettuce, black beans, corn, peppers, and onion in a large mixing bowl. Toss gently together.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine sour cream, salsa and cumin. Stir until smooth. Pour dressing over salad.
3. Toss gently to coat.


Check out these related articles:

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6. Bean and Rice Burritos

This is a great way to use leftover rice. With the precooked rice, this easy recipe is ready in under 30 minutes. (Or you can use minute rice in a pinch, or just cook the rice before you start preparing the rest of the meal.)


1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
1 cup salsa
1 cup cooked rice
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
12 flour tortillas (6 to 7 inches)


1. In a bowl, combine the refried beans, salsa, rice, and 1 cup of the cheese.
2. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the mixture off-center on each tortilla.
3. Fold the sides and ends of the tortillas over the filling, and roll them up.
4. Arrange the burritos in a greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.



7. Easy Stovetop Tuna Casserole

This was a meal that my mom made regularly for my family when I was growing up. And this meal is ready just 20 minutes, too. Yay!


2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 or 2 tablespoons parsley (optional)
2 6 oz cans tuna, drained
1 15 oz can or 2 cups frozen peas or peas and carrots
8 oz wide egg noodles


  1. Cook the egg noodles.
  2. During the last couple of minutes, add the frozen or canned peas or peas and carrots to the simmering noodles, and then drain.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter or margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Whisk in the flour, and continue whisking for about 2 minutes or until the flour butter mixture starts to turn a beige color.
  5. Continue whisking and slowly add 1 of the cups of milk, incorporating the liquid as you whisk; then add the remaining 1 cup of milk.
  6. Let the mixture come to a gentle boil, stirring regularly to keep from burning on the bottom of the pan as it thickens.
  7. Break up the solid tuna chunks with a fork and mix throughout the sauce.
  8. Add the salt, pepper, and other seasonings.
  9. Pour the tuna sauce over the noodles and peas, stir until combined well, and serve.


8. Fried Rice

You can make this simple, cheap dinner in just 15 minutes, so it is perfect for those busy evenings after work and school. There are many variations, but I like this simple recipe.


2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
1 cup diced red or white onion (about 1 small onion)
1 1/3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
3 green onions, sliced
4 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce


  1. Crack 3 eggs into a small bowl, and beat them together. Beat the last egg in a separate bowl.
  2. Heat a large frying pan or a wok with 1/2 tablespoon of the cooking oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the 3 beaten eggs and scramble them for about a minute. Transfer the eggs to a dish, and turn off the heat. Wipe off the pan or wok with a kitchen towel.
  3. Pour the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in the pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and cook them for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the mixed vegetables and green onions, and cook for another minute. Save some of the green onions (the dark green part) for garnish, if desired.
  4. Add the cooked rice into the pan or wok, and cook for a few minutes, until the rice is heated through. If you have large clumps of rice, break them apart with the back of your spatula. Pour the single beaten egg over the rice and stir to coat the rice with the egg. Cook for another minute.
  5. Add the soy sauce, and stir. Add the 3 scrambled eggs, and stir to mix again. Serve immediately.


9. Baked Potatoes with Chili or Cheddar Soup

This is a super easy pantry meal, and it is one of my favorite super cheap and easy go-to meals. All you need are baked potatoes, one or more cans of chili and/or cheddar soup (or use cream of chicken, mushroom, or celery soup, if you prefer), and your favorite toppings like bacon bits, canned olives or tomatoes, salsa, or corn.

Pro tip: Enjoy baked potatoes in just minutes by cooking them in the microwave in these awesome cooking pouches. Get perfectly cooked potatoes in just four minutes! I love them!


10. Corn and Bean Quesadillas

This easy pantry meals is a fun twist on traditional quesadillas. Plus, this quick dish is ready in 20 minutes or less!

1 can (15 oz. each) black beans, drained
1 can (15 oz. each) corn, drained
1 cup salsa
2 cups shredded cheese
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1/3 cup sour cream (optional)

1. Mash the can of beans. Mix in the can of corn and salsa.
2. Spread the mixture evenly on 4 tortillas; top with the cheese. Cover with the remaining 4 tortillas.
3. Heat the skillet, and cook the quesadillas for 2 minutes. Flip, and cook for another minute or two.
4. Cut into wedges, and serve with salsa and sour cream on the side.

11. Spaghetti or Meatless Spaghetti

Spaghetti is one of our favorite meals! We most often make spaghetti the way my mother did. To make it meatless and a true pantry meal, we simply omit the pound of ground beef that would normally be included.

For the meatless sauce, mix a small can of tomato sauce with about half a can of water, a packet of spaghetti seasoning (though we have also made our own spaghetti seasoning, which is cheap and easy!), and a small can of cream of mushroom soup. Sometimes we include mushrooms (fresh or canned) and chopped peppers (most often green peppers, since they are the least expensive) and onions, as well.

If you are including the vegetables and are not including hamburger, then heat up about a tablespoon of oil in the frying pan. (if you do want to include ground beef, then brown and drain the hamburger, and then follow the rest of the directions.) Add the chopped green pepper if you are going to use it; you could also add the chopped onion at this point, too. Cook the vegetables until they are softened. Then add the tomato sauce and the water. Add the spaghetti seasoning, and stir. Then add the can of cream of mushroom soup, and stir it in. Add the mushrooms at this point, if you are going to include them. Serve over warm spaghetti noodles.


12. Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

For another 30-minute meatless pasta dish, give this garlic fettuccine alfredo a try. This recipe calls for Fettuccine (or substitute a pasta of your choice), butter, minced garlic, diced shallot, half and half (or we just substitute whole milk or whatever milk we have on hand), cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper and parsley to taste.

16 oz. fettuccine or penne pasta
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 cloves garlic, minced (or use minced garlic from the jar)
1 small yellow onion, diced (or use dried, chopped onions)
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish (fresh or from the bottle)
salt and pepper
fresh parsley

1. Make pasta according to the box directions. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, and add onions. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
3. Add milk and cream cheese, and heat just until bubbly (do not boil).
4. Remove from heat, and add in Parmesan cheese and mix until the cheese is melted.
5. Add pasta to the skillet, and toss until combined. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley.


13. Quick Bean and Rice Burritos

This is another great beans and rice recipe that is perfect for a cheap and easy pantry meal. 🙂 These burritos are tasty and filling and can be on your table in less than 30 minutes.

1 1/2 cups water
3 cups cooked rice
1 medium green or red pepper (or half and half), diced
1 can or 2 cups of frozen corn
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
8 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
1 cup salsa

Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream


  1. In a large skillet, saute green pepper and onion in oil until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the chili powder and cumin until combined. Add beans, corn, and cooked rice; cook and stir until heated through, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Spoon about 1/2 cup of filling off-center on each tortilla; top with 2 tablespoons salsa. Fold sides and ends over filling and roll up.
  3. Serve with cheese and sour cream if desired.


14. Ramen Noodles with Vegetables

I know that ramen noodles are not really healthy, but they are super cheap and they are super easy.

We make eating them healthier by adding our favorite vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, corn, and sometimes peppers. You can also add canned chicken or tuna to this cheap pantry meal recipe to get in some protein for this meal!

Cook the vegetables, drain off some of the water if needed, and then add the noodles (and the chicken or tuna if you want to include one of those) and cook a few minutes until the noodles are soft. Add the seasoning packet (or omit), and stir to combine.

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15. Black Beans and Rice

This is another classic American beans and rice dish. Like the other easy pantry meals recipes in this list, it takes only about 30 minutes to prepare and a great option for after school or busy weeknights.


1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
3/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
3 1/2 cups canned black beans (or other beans; about 2 cans)


1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil.
2. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 4 minutes.
3. Add the rice and saute for 2 minutes.
4. Add the broth.
5. B
ring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat. Cook for 20 minutes.
6. Add the spices and black beans.
7. Stir, and serve.

16. Orange Teriyaki Chicken

This is another great cheap and easy pantry meal with chicken. 


1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dried onion
2 cloves minced garlic or crushed garlic (1/2 t = 1 clove)
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
1/2 cup orange marmelade (or more, to taste)
4 to 6 chicken breasts (cubed) or 2 large cans chicken
Cooked rice, for serving


  1. Combine all ingredients except chicken in a large bowl, and mix. Set aside.
    2. Brown chicken breasts in a large skillet in a little oil.
    3. Once browned, add sauce.
    4. Cook until heated through.
    5. Serve over cooked rice.


 17. Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Pizza can be another great cheap and easy pantry meal.



3 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast, or 1 packet (1/4 ounce) yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon oil


2 to 3 large canschicken
2 to 3 cups favorite barbecue sauce  (or more, as needed to adequately coat chicken)
5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can chopped pineapple, mushrooms, or other toppings of choice


1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, and salt. Add water and oil, and beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
2. Place the dough on a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine chicken and barbecue sauce, and stir to coat evenly.
3. Divide the dough in half, and then press into two 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pans coated with cooking spray.
4. Spread chicken and sauce over crusts, and then top with cheese.
5. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or longer as needed.

18. Pepperoni Pan Pizza

Pepperoni pizza is another fun dish that you can make primarily from items in your pantry! (If you don’t have any pepperoni, make cheese pizza, instead!)



3 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast, or 1 packet (1/4 ounce) yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon oil


1 to 2 cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon season salt


1 package (3 1/2 oz) sliced pepperoni
5 cups shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, and salt. Add water and oil, and beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
2. Place the dough on a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, oil, and seasonings.
3. Divide the dough in half, and then press into two 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pans coated with cooking spray.
4. Spread sauce over crusts, and then top with pepperoni and cheeses.
5. Bake pizzas at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or longer, as needed. 


19. Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is another awesome dish you can make as an easy and cheap pantry meal!


1 to 2 large cans chicken
1 can peas
1 can carrots 
1/2 cup dried minced onion
1 can chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2  (1 top and 1 bottom) unbaked pie crusts, homemade or from the store


1. Put the chicken. vegetables, broth, and milk in a large bowl, and stir until well combined.
2.  If store bought, remove the store-bought pie crusts from the packages and allow them to come to room temperature.
3. Place the pie crusts in a pie pan, and then spoon the filling equally between the two pans.
4. Top with the second pie crusts, and seal the edges by pressing together with a fork or your fingers. Poke a few holes into the crust with a fork.
5. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until top of pie is golden and inside is bubbling. Tip: You may want to cover the edges with foil to protect them from over browning.
6. Cool for 10 minutes, and then cut into slices and serve.


Final Thoughts on Cheap Pantry Meal Recipes

These 15 cheap pantry meal recipes will help you use your pantry staples to get  inexpensive food on the table fast to feed your family! All ready in 30 minutes or less, these simple pantry meal recipes are great for busy families!


What do you like to prepare for your pantry meal recipes? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to pantry meal recipes that you love?

Give these recipes a try, and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts! 


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