The Pantry Primer: Making Meals from Pantry Basics

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Your pantry is only useful if you can make tasty, filling meals from it.  It is vital that you purchase “ingredients” rather than meals, so that you can make a wide variety of foods. Not only is this healthier, but it is also a much more cost-effective way to build a stockpile.

The ingredients that you buy or preserve are the basis of your future health should a situation arise in which you must rely on your pantry.  It is imperative that you have the ability to cook from scratch if you intend to use a pantry full of ingredients, so brush up on your skills by using these items now, and not just storing them away.

I have gotten a lot of requests for meal plans based on pantry items.  This is challenging because every family has different preferences and different items available to them at a good price.  So the following is simply a list of meals that we have at Chez Organic Prepper, heavily based on pantry items.


  • Granola with homemade yogurt and fruit
  • Oatmeal with fruit and nuts
  • Homemade muffins
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Eggs and toast
  • Toast with peanut butter
  • Cornbread with butter and jam
  • Breakfast cookies

Lunch box fillers

  • Sandwiches made from leftover meats
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Thermos of soup
  • Yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Pasta salad
  • Home-baked treats
  • Salad
  • Crackers with peanut butter
  • Fruit
  • Veggies
  • Homemade calzones
  • “Platters” – an assortment of meat, cheese, veggies and crackers in a divided container
  • Thermos full of leftovers 


  • Potato soup
  • Onion soup
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Split pea soup
  • Spaghetti with meatballs
  • Salad with chicken and homemade vinaigrette
  • Beans and rice
  • Baked beans and biscuits
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Bean burritos
  • Curry with potatoes, chickpeas and cauliflower
  • Pasta with pesto sauce
  • Chili
  • Noodles with peanut sauce
  • Baked macaroni and cheese
  • Creamy rice with veggies (rice cooked in milk instead of water – it tastes similar to risotto)
  • Roasted meat with vegetables (a meal that creates lots of wonderful leftovers!)

Leftover Makeovers

If you only have one or two servings of a leftover and 4 people to feed, don’t despair.  Often the addition of grains or some broth can help you extend it to create a new dish to serve to your entire family.

  • Leftover chili baked with rice and cheese
  • Leftover spaghetti sauce baked with pasta and homemade cottage cheese
  • Leftover soup
  • Fried rice made with leftover meat
  • Pasta with whatever veggies and leftover meat are on hand, tossed with olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan
  • Stroganoff made with leftover beef
  • Baked potatoes topped with whatever you have left over
  • Biscuit crust atop leftovers to make a “pot pie”

Click HERE to learn more about repurposing leftovers.

What thrifty, pantry-based meals are the favorites in your household?

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Great article Daisy! People should also remember that we throw a lot of vitamins & minerals down the drain when we drain our vegetables into the sink. If we want to economize drain them into a container & put into the frig. Add this liquid to soups, stews, breads, biscuits, gravy etc. & you get free nutrients. If your biscuit recipe calls for milk just add a little milk powder to the veg. liquid. Daisy you are doing a great job of educating us. Thanks.

  • Just a peak at the net after a full day of harvesting onions and potatoes, pulling the dead bush bean vines, cutting back the winter squash vines and canning spaghetti sauce and dilled cukes and beans.
    I love your suggestions and articles Daisy, and I AM determined to get my family more on board with the re-purposing the left over thing!
    I Will Make Them Waste Less Food!

  • The best thing about being able to make anything at all is to make the things you really want. I love leftover meat loaf on a fresh baked roll, hot meatloaf from the pan with thick mozzarell bubblin fresh lettuce ,tomatos, all right there just waiting to make you smile

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