101 Meals You Can Make with Pantry Staples

Updated September 23, 2019
Just like grocery stores rotate the oldest items to the front before stocking with new, you should plan dinners using what’s hanging around in the back of your pantry and fridge. It’s a smart way to prevent food waste, and with all of these recipe ideas that all start with common pantry staples, it couldn’t be easier! MORE+ LESS-
Betty Crocker and its parent company General Mills know that food waste is a major social, environmental, and economic challenge and we’re invested in change. We work to eliminate food production waste and partner with Feeding America to ensure surplus food gets from grocery stores and restaurants to people facing hunger—not garbage cans. In 2018 we started the Taste Not Waste project to tackle the 40% of food waste that happens at home. This year we’re introducing the #pantryraid challenge to waste less and save more. When we all do our part, we can make a difference in the amount of food that gets thrown out. Join us!

It’s 4:00 p.m. and you don’t have a dinner plan, so you swing by the grocery store on the way home, load up what’s fresh, what looks good and what’s easy—even when you have a mini grocery store stocked in your pantry at home. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there.

The trouble is that without a plan, a lot of those in-the-moment purchases end up half-used or forgotten and then in the trash, contributing to America’s food waste situation. So before you hit the grocery store for ideas and ingredients, consider what’s in your pantry. If you have one of these eight staple ingredients, we’re betting you can skip that trip and make dinner with what’s on hand.


Bisquick Mix

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Everyone knows that Bisquick makes fast and delicious pancakes, but did you know that it can do so much more? Think Skillet Chicken Parmesan, easy dumplings and shortcut chicken pot pie—and that’s just for starters! One of our 12 One-Pan Wonders Made with Bisquick just might be the dinner answer you’re looking for tonight.


Black Beans

Slow Cooker Cuban Black Bean Soup

Inexpensive and a good source of protein, black beans are another go-to pantry staple we can’t get enough of. Case in point? These 16 Brilliant Black Bean Dinners. Pay extra attention to the Slow-Cooker Cuban Black Bean Soup, it’s a hands-off dinner that’ll fill up the whole family!



One-Pot Sausage Meatballs with Creamy Tomato Penne

Pasta is the ultimate throw-together dinner. There are endless possibilities when combining shape, sauce and add-ins like proteins, vegetables and cheese. Riff based on what’s in your fridge, or try one of our 16 Irresistible Pasta Dinners. If you’re looking for a rotation-worthy dinner, we recommend the One-Pot Sausage Meatballs with Creamy Tomato Penne for a spiffed-up but simple spin on a classic.


Canned Tomatoes

Easy Butter Chicken Casserole

If you have a can of tomatoes in your pantry, you’re closer to dinner than you think! Take this Easy Butter Chicken Casserole recipe for example, it’s a family-friendly spin on an Indian-restaurant favorite. Plus, we have 11 More Dinners Made with Canned Tomatoes where that came from.


Refried Beans

Beef and Bean Taco Casserole

They’re often overlooked as an ingredient to build a meal around, but these 12 Surprising Dinners that Start with Refried Beans prove they shouldn’t be! This Beef and Bean Taco Casserole is a favorite that’s great at using up the last of the tortilla chips, too!


Canned Tuna

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Canned tuna is a lot more versatile than it gets credit for being. And comforting! From this 25-minute Tuna Noodle Casserole to classic tuna melts, it can feel like a warm hug at the end of a long day. Don’t miss our Top 10 Canned Tuna Dinners that come together in a snap.


Panko Breadcrumbs

Creamy Tuscan Gnocchi Skillet

We like to think of Progresso panko crispy bread crumbs as our secret weapon against boring dinners. They add surprising crunch and flavor to every recipe they meet, including this Creamy Tuscan Gnocchi Skillet. Sold on the idea? Here are 13 More Dinners that Make the Most of Breadcrumbs.


Tortilla Chips

Make Ahead Cheesy Southwest Chicken and Pasta Casserole

Tortilla chips might be the most surprising pantry staple on our list, but not when you consider this Make-Ahead Cheesy Southwest Chicken and Pasta Casserole and the 11 Other Recipes That Put Tortilla Chips Front and Center on Your Dinner Plate. With these recipes up your sleeve, a half-eaten bag of chips will never go stale and to waste again. All of these recipes work great with broken up taco shells, too.

Planning dinner with what you have on hand is just one of many small ways that you can make a big difference when it comes to food waste at home. What other tips and tricks do you use to taste not waste your food? Tell us in the comments below or join the #pantryraid challenge on Instagram.