Not sure how to create healthy meals using pantry staples? It’s not as difficult as you’d initially think it might be. And eating from your pantry doesn’t have to mean an endless supply of junk food. With some key staples in stock, you can turn everyday ingredients into delicious and healthy meals in no time!
Earlier this week, we talked through pantry staples to keep on hand at all times for a well-stocked kitchen. In case you missed it, check it out here, then come back to this post to learn how to turn these staples into delicious and healthy meals.
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we are all looking at the foods we keep on hand a little differently. I’ve received a lot of questions related to pantry staples, easy meal ideas and how to make rice and beans taste good after eating them 20 times (ha!).
Here’s the good news. Rice and beans is not your only option if you’re stuck at home or need to get creative with what you have in stock.
Here are 10 ways ways to make healthy meals using pantry staples. This list is based on the the pantry staples I recommend keeping on hand.
Quick stir fry.
If you consume animal protein, take a package of chicken breasts out of the freezer beforehand and thaw. When ready to cook, butterfly the chicken breasts by slicing in half horizontally, season with salt and pepper, then sear in a saute pan until cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest, then cut into bite size pieces. In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil over medium heat. If you have it, saute diced onion until translucent. Add minced garlic and your choice of frozen vegetables. Cook until warmed through. If you need a boost of protein, add some edamame to the pan! Add the chicken back to the pan and add a few tablespoons of coconut aminos and ½ teaspoon ground ginger. Allow the coconut aminos to simmer, then remove from the heat. Serve over brown rice or quinoa and extra coconut aminos if needed. To make this teriyaki style, add a sprinkle of coconut sugar along with the coconut aminos and ground ginger.
Thaw ground turkey breast or lean, grass fed beef ahead of time. For a plant-based option, rinse and drain a can or two of cooked lentils. Saute your protein of choice with salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin and garlic powder until cooked through. Serve on thawed tortillas with cowboy caviar salsa (see recipe below). If you can, serve with a smear of plain Greek yogurt for a sour cream replacement, shredded romaine lettuce and avocado.
Cowboy caviar salsa.
In a mixing bowl, add a can of rinsed and drained black beans, rinsed and drained diced tomatoes, frozen corn, diced red onion, lime juice and salt. Mix to combine.
Create your own power bowl.
This pantry staple meal idea is really a create your own option. The choices are endless! Roast a variety of frozen vegetables and/or cubed potatoes, squash or beets at 400°F with a drizzle of avocado oil, salt and pepper. Serve over leafy greens and/or whole grain of choice, protein of choice (seared chicken, roasted salmon or garbanzo beans are all good options) and finish with a delicious power bowl sauce! Check out four must-make power bowl sauce ideas in this post.
Italian night two ways.
For a quick and well-balanced pasta dish, prepare lentil or chickpea pasta according to directions. When almost finished cooking, add in a few handfuls of frozen spinach. Serve with no sugar added marinara sauce and a healthy sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
Pizza at home doesn’t have to be fancy. Thaw a few sprouted grain or grain-free tortillas and spoon leftover marinara for the sauce. Top with frozen veggies of choice and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. If you are dairy-free, you could make an easy cashew cream by blending cashews, lemon juice, salt and water in a blender. You can use this recipe for basil cashew cream as inspiration! Once the pizza is assembled, bake at 375°F for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
There’s a reason why I included Medjool dates on the pantry staples list. They are a fantastic binder when making energy bites at home. Add a variety of nuts, seeds, nut butter, spices and medjool dates to a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Shape into bite-sized balls and store in the refrigerator or freezer. These vegan cookie dough bites, immune-boosting lemon ginger energy bites and zesty lemon energy bites all make for delicious snack options!
Movie theatre popcorn just got a healthy upgrade at home and it couldn’t be easier. Prepare a bag of natural popcorn in the microwave. Once popped, open the bag and drizzle melted coconut oil and sprinkle with nutritional yeast and salt. Close the bag back up and shake to coat. If you have truffle-infused olive oil, this would be a delicious flavoring option as well.
There’s a lot of creativity you have access to with a variety of frozen fruit, nut butters and spices stocked. Check out this post on how to build a healthy smoothie in 5 simple steps and grab a copy of my cookbook, Simply Swapped Everyday, for delicious smoothie recipes!
Healthier banana ice cream (and froyo bar).
If you’re anything like me, your sweet tooth goes into overdrive when stuck at home. Instead of stocking up on traditional ice cream, make a healthier version at home with frozen bananas. For one serving, add a frozen banana to a blender with a splash of vanilla extract and unsweetened almond milk to get it moving. Blend until creamy and it resembles a frozen yogurt consistency. Make it fun by creating a toppings bar with fresh fruit, nut butter, granola or chopped nuts!
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to create healthy meals using pantry staples that don’t involve boring rice and beans, or junk foods. For more pantry staple-friendly ideas, check out my cookbook, Simply Swapped Everyday, on Amazon that includes over 75 plant-powered recipes that can be adapted to any dietary preferences. Let your imagination and taste buds run wild, even if you’re stuck at home!