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How to Make Basic Meals from Pantry Staples

How to cook simple meals from pantry staples you have on hand.

Warning: I am not in any way suggesting you go crazy and stock up for the apocalypse. While we are facing a current crisis, these staples should be kept on hand as a matter of course. Just, please, wash your hands with soap and water and use hydrogen peroxide to kill germs.

How to cook simple meals from pantry staples you have on hand.

Things are going a bit crazy here in Washington. We have more cases of coronavirus than anywhere else in the country. All Seattle area schools have been shut down for six weeks. Costco is out of toilet paper. Our local school is still in session, but they have canceled all indoor activities (junior high play Avi is in, Hezekiah’s band concert). So yeah, it’s getting real.

Large Family Weekly Meal Prep: Prep once to save time and money. Learn how to use leftovers to create new meals.

During my early years of marriage, I spent a lot of time learning to cook from scratch. It was cheap, nutritious, and, oh yeah, cheap. Those skills came in handy when we were at our max with 13 kids living at home. Through our years of homeschooling, I naturally passed these skills down to my kids. I know what it’s like not to know how to cook and how to be lost in the kitchen. I hope this post helps you learn how to make basic meals from pantry staples. Because if things keep shutting down at the current pace, we will all be cooking out of our pantries.

How to cook dry beans

How to Cook Dry Beans

I grew up eating beans. They are not only nutritious and cheap but delicious too. As an adult, I have found that many people are intimidated by the idea of cooking dry beans. It isn’t hard, I promise. Dry beans are cheap, nutritious, and will last stored properly for YEARS. Having a stock of dry beans in your pantry means you can eat high-protein meals as long as you have water and a way to heat it.

Do I Need to Soak Dry Beans Before Cooking?

Soaking beans overnight reduces the cooking time drastically. You can either soak the beans in water overnight (be sure and add a ton of water as the beans will expand) or use a quick soak method (cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and soak with the lid on for one hour).

One thing I like to do is soak the beans in my crockpot overnight. Then, in the morning, I simply turn the crockpot on to low and let them cook all day. I also frequently cook beans in my Instant Pot and never soak them ahead of time.

Here is a great article that breaks down exactly how to cook dry beans. But to be honest? I just simmer until they are fully cooked.

Cheap Bean Recipes that Use Pantry Staples

Some of these are family favorites, others came straight off of my Pinterest board for meal ideas.

Slow cooker chalupa is a cheap, easy meal for large families.


You know we love chalupa over here. You can use pork, chicken, beef, or no meat at all. It is the seasoning that makes these amazing.

Spicy Black Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Refried Beans

Instant Pot Bean Soup

Hawaiian Barbecue Baked Beans

Beef and Bean Chili with Cornbread

Baked Beans

Easy Bread You Can Bake at Home

Beginner sourdough guide with sourdough recipes

Easy White Bread Recipe

Easy Oatmeal Bread

Sourdough Bread

Baking Powder Biscuits

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Navajo Fry Bread


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Easy Granola Recipe Made from Pantry Staples

Non-Perishable Staples to Keep Stocked

Here is a list of items to keep on hand. With these, you could survive for weeks or months. You can download the pdf here.

Pantry staples to keep on hand printable list.


1 Comment

  1. suzanwarnes4703

    Thank you for sharing sensible advice. I live near an area that has become a China Town and the panic buying has been crazy. Stores are imposing limits on the most looked for items. One supermarket has said they will not refund on large amounts of goods and suggest that people donate their over bought items to those in need.

    Sadly a few months I found we were wasting stored food so I decided it was time to eat down the pantry. Poor timing. Fortunately bit by bit I have managed to bring almost two weeks of food supplies in place.

    I do wish beans were useful for me to eat. I haven’t cooked them from scratch for years.

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