Over the last few weeks, I’d say I’ve been reacquainted with my pantry staples. Thank you Hurricane Michael. There were a few items I’d forgotten I’d bought and a few items I fell in love with again. But it was a nice reminder of what essentials I need to keep on hand to create last minute meals. So whether you’re hosting a last minute brunch/dinner or you just can’t be bothered to go to the store, hopefully your pantry is hiding a few gems.
Rice is one of the pantry staples I think most people keep on hand. It’s perfect for both last minute guests and lazy dinner nights. If you’re inviting friends over, I’d suggest having everyone bring their favorite topping for a burrito bar. However, if you’re rocking dinner for one, then it’s time to get creative. A bit of rice, black beans, salsa and whatever veg you can find makes for a quick, lazy dinner.
It’s also perfect for making soup. I typically keep some form of frozen veggies and veggie broth on hand. And with a added bit of rice & protein, you’ll have dinner in no time. Cook the rice in the stock and simply add in the veggies and protein towards the end to warm them up. If you’re hosting others, I’d suggest serving a side of warm or crackers for dipping if you have time to snag them from the store. You could even shred a bit of rotisserie chicken to bulk it up.
When I was plant based, I think I survived on pre-cooked black beans* half the time. They are super simple to use and add into meals. Plus, they are an incredibly budget friendly pantry staple. My favorite way to use them is in a potato dish recipe from One Part Plant*. It’s an amazing brunch or lazy minute meal. And it’s done in under 30 minutes. I’ve never been particularly patient when make hashbrowns but this dish is worth it. I typically leave the meal plant based and enjoy it on its own. But you could also top it with an egg for extra protein.
You can also use them to make black bean burgers or even falafel. As far as pantry staples go, black beans are incredibly versatile and work in a lot of different dishes. With a few added ingredients, you’ll be able to throw dinner together in no time.
Garbanzo beans*, aka chickpeas, never seem to stay in our house long. They are the go to back up item in my pantry on a regular basis. When I really don’t want to cook dinner (translation: I don’t want to stand and watch something cook), I make a mini crudités plate. It sounds a whole lot fancier than it actually is but it’s a house standard. Depending on what I have on hand, the items may change but there are two things I always add: hummus & olives.
Hummus is actually super easy to make. With a bit of chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon & garlic, you’ve got a dip in no time. From there, I use whatever veggies I have on hand to eat said hummus with (carrots, crackers, etc.) and maybe a selection of olives. It’s honestly the laziest meal ever but it gives the option for a variety of food so you can meet all of your cravings. Add in a glass of wine and a movie, it makes for a great night in.
I’ve gone through quite a few bags of this over the last month for a few reasons. Mainly, breakfast without a fridge is challenging because you can’t store smoothie essentials or eggs. And you only need to add water to get delicious tasting pancakes. There was a time when I primarily made pancakes from scratch and still do on occasion. However, I always keep a bag of Birch Benders* in my pantry staples for back up.
It’s perfect for waffles or pancakes. Plus, who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? The mix is gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. It’s also got a decent amount of protein and fiber in it. If it’s just me, I’ll stick with waffles and maybe some turkey bacon. But if you’re using this as a back up for last minute hosting, ask your guests to bring their favorite topping and set up a breakfast bar. It’s a great way to get to know new things about people and encourage everyone to try other ingredients. And at the end of the night, they can take it home and still enjoy their favorite topping later.
Like black beans, lentils are also an amazing last minute pantry staple. You can use them for vegan meatloaf, curry, stew and so many other dishes. If you’re pressed for time, I’d suggest keeping a bag of pre-soaked lentils* on hand because they cook faster. But if you have a little bit longer, normal lentils are just fine. One of my favorite things about using lentils is that they work for so many different dishes. So no matter what you’re craving you’re sure to be able to find a dish to make.
Ever since I discovered chickpea pasta, I haven’t really wanted to use anything else. It’s become a pantry staple but it’s also one of my favorite lazy dinners. In the last year, I’ve seen more and more gluten free pastas in the grocery store. However, some of them really don’t hold up and I find them to be too mushy. Banza chickpea pasta* definitely wins every time. It’s gluten free, packed with protein and has minimal ingredients.
If you’re in the mood for super simple, pair it with a jar of spaghetti sauce, maybe some added green veg & top it with nutritional yeast. But it you’re in the mood for something, I’d recommend my creamy pasta & veggies recipe. It’s one I make for my friends and often teach them to make so they have last minute options. You can swap things around for whatever you have on hand. Plus, it’s super speedy and savory. Perfect for a quick dinner that hits the spot.
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