45 Pantry Meals for Tough Times or Tight Budgets

45 Pantry Meals for Tough Times or Tight Budgets

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The recent Coronavirus pandemic has made life difficult for everybody. Many are unable to go to the local grocery store to restock on the fresh produce. People are pinching pennies as they aren’t working and bringing in the income they had been. Canned goods and dried staples have been the savior for a lot of people, turning also to dried goods like pasta, beans, and rice and whipping up pantry meals from these gems that help the budget, fill the belly, and can be packed with protein.

During these tough times, it is a good idea to go for pantry meals as they have a great shelf life. This article focuses on our collection of 45 pantry meals that are a boon for tough times.

meal plan month one

45 Pantry Meals for Tough Times


Bread can be hard to find at the stores and a staple for pantry meals. It helps fill you up, gives you energy from the carbs, and pizza? Pizza is a great way to really stretch meat and veggies in a tasty way!

  1. Peanut Butter Oatmeal Pancakes

When it comes to breakfast recipes, the peanut butter oatmeal pancakes are a clear winner. With no added sugar, these pancakes are nutritious and healthy.

Get your recipe of Peanut Butter Oatmeal Pancakes here

  1. Vegan Cinnamon Apple Bread

If you love everything about cinnamon and do not have any problem with the concept of vegan, then the vegan cinnamon apple bread is a perfect breakfast treat for your family.

Get your recipe of Vegan Cinnamon Apple Bread here

  1. No Yeast Pizza Dough

The no yeast pizza dough is the easiest way to make fresh homemade pizza for the entire family. If you want to make dinner in a jiffy, then this recipe is perfect, as it takes only 15 min.

Get your recipe of No Yeast Pizza Dough here

  1. Drop Biscuit Recipe

The drop biscuits are also known as emergency biscuits as one needs only five essential ingredients to make them and around 25 minutes. The biscuits are tender, fluffy, and tastes great.

Get your recipe of Drop Biscuit Recipe here

  1. Classic Corn Casserole

The classic corn casserole is the perfect dish for any kind of holiday. The sweet corns and the cream cheese make this dish fantastic.

Get your recipe of Classic Corn Casserole here

45 Pantry Meals for Tough Times tortillas
  1. Soft Flour Tortilla Recipe

This homemade soft flour tortilla recipe produces soft tortillas that are perfect for burritos or soft tacos. The tortillas are great to taste and very easy to make. Just check out how versatile tortillas are HERE – we found 17 ways to use them!

Get your recipe of Soft Flour Tortilla Recipe here

  1. Grandmas Easy Bread Recipe

The grandma’s easy bread recipe is made from scratch and is very simple to make. It is soft, delicious, and has a hint of sweetness that makes this bread irresistible.

Get your recipe of Grandmas Easy Bread Recipe here

  1. Zucchini Bread

The summer zucchini bread recipe is easy and delicious and can be made with the help of pantry ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen.

Get your recipe of Zucchini Bread here

  1. Instant Pot Muesli Bread No Knead

The instant pot muesli bread is a crusty bread loaf that has a unique combination of ingredients like apricot, coconut, and muesli. No kneading is required here as the instant pot can be used to get the bread dough to rise.

Get your recipe of Instant Pot Muesli Bread No Knead here

  1. Apple Fritter Pull-Apart Bread

The apple fritter pull-apart bread is like a Fall package! If you love apple fritters, then there is no reason why you will not enjoy this loaf of bread that is studded with gala apples.

Get your recipe of Apple Fritter Pull-Apart Bread here

apple fritter pull apart bread
  1. Water Cake

The water cake is easy to make as it requires only a few staples. There is no need to add milk or eggs; only a very few cupboard ingredients.

Get your recipe of Water Cake here

  1. Funfetti Cake Mix Cookies

The Funfetti cookies are very pretty looking, and they have a delicious taste. As these are very simple and fast to make, you can make them anytime and have them as treats. The children will love these Funfetti Cake Mix Cookies.

Get your recipe of Funfetti Cake Mix Cookies here.


Rice is perfect for pantry meals – you can get a large amount for practically pennies and it lasts a long time. There was rice and pasta in the Egyptian pyramids that could still be eaten safely today. If that isn’t enough of a reason for the Doomsday Preppers in all of us, I don’t know what is.

  1. Dannelles Zesty Mexican Rice Recipe

The Mexican rice recipe has been tweaked a little here with the addition of carrots and peas. The addition of the vegetables makes this dish a bit sweeter and tastier.

Get your recipe of Dannelles Zesty Mexican Rice Recipe here

  1. Traditional Cuban Yellow Rice

The traditional Cuban yellow rice looks excellent, and the subtle taste makes the dish very enticing.

Get your recipe of Traditional Cuban Yellow Rice here

  1. Parmesan Garlic Risotto Recipe

Risotto is an easy Italian dish that boasts of a soft texture and a mild flavor. The recipe is made tastier with the addition of Parmesan cheese, making it one of the most delicious things on the planet.

Get your recipe of Parmesan Garlic Risotto Recipe here

45 Meals for Tough Times broccoli rice recipe
  1. Easy Peasy Spanish Rice

The Spanish rice is a simple and delicious accompaniment to any Mexican meal. The dish can be made in a matter of minutes with tons of flavor and delicious ingredients like ground beef and turkey.

Get your recipe of Easy Peasy Spanish Rice here

  1. Easy Rice and Beans

The rice and beans are very popular and easy to make side dish. The best part is that you can even prepare it ahead and can also alter the flavor to match the main course that you will be having.

Get your recipe of Easy Rice and Beans here

  1. Easy Mexican Rice Recipe

The restaurant-style Mexican rice can be easily prepared at home, and it also tastes much better! It is full of flavor and a very refreshing one-pot meal.

Get your recipe of Easy Mexican Rice Recipe here

  1. Vegan Fried Rice

The vegan fried rice is an easy dish that can be made with just a few ingredients that you probably have in your freezer or pantry. The vegetables can be altered as per your liking.

Get your recipe of Vegan Fried Rice here

  1. Easy Chicken Rice Soup Recipe

The homemade easy chicken rice soup recipe has an unbelievable flavor and is an easy to make meal preparation which can be made ahead also.

Get your recipe of Easy Chicken Rice Soup Recipe here

45 Pantry Meals for Tough Times chicken rice soup
  1. Lentil Brown Rice Soup

The lentil brown rice soup is a filling meal with loads of greens and spices, which makes it full of flavor and protein. It is available in a dry soup mix format that is affordable and ideal for weeknights.

Get your recipe of Lentil Brown Rice Soup here

  1. Hibachi Fried Rice

The Hibachi fried rice is super easy to make and is a wonderful side dish for your Japanese dinners. It is a complete meal, and the flavors are simply amazing.

Get your recipe of Hibachi Fried Rice here

  1. Vegan Broccoli Rice Casserole

The vegan broccoli rice casserole is a tasty and healthy dish. It can be used as both a side dish and/or the main dish. You can add ingredients like fried onions and vegan sausage to make the dish delicious.

Get your recipe of Vegan Broccoli Rice Casserole here

  1. Instant Pot Rice Pudding

The instant pot rice pudding is very creamy and heart-warming comfort food. The dessert is full of flavors and super addictive!

Get your recipe of Instant Pot Rice Pudding here

  1. Easy Rice Pudding

The rice pudding is a quick and easy recipe that can be had either hot or cold. It is an old-fashioned dessert but very comforting.

Get your recipe of Easy Rice Pudding here.

cooking red lentils making a sloppy joe recipe


Dried beans are an ideal, shelf-stable protein source for preppers. They are high in nutrition and a great option when it is hard to find meat like chicken, beef, or pork. It makes perfect for pantry meals!

  1. Amazing Crock Pot Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes

The lentil sloppy Joes are a plant-based version of the classic, and it has the same flavor, although it does not have any meat. These are perfect for your family when you are looking for a meatless meal.

Get your recipe of Amazing Crock Pot Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes here

  1. Calico Beans

The calico beans are a great recipe that can be used in your next BBQ or cookout. It is easy to make and is full of flavors.

Get your recipe of Calico Beans here

  1. Texas Caviar

The Texas caviar recipe is loaded with black beans, black-eyed peas, Roma tomatoes, sweet corn et al. The dish is very healthy, and you can add bell peppers to make it more delicious.

Get your recipe of Texas Caviar here

  1. Knockoff Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup

It is a hearty, one-pot soup that is entirely inspired by Olive Garden. It is a knock off recipe, and taste is the same as that of the original.

Get your recipe of Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup here

  1. Pea Soup Frozen

This delicious and nutritious pea soup can be prepared with the help of frozen peas. It needs just four ingredients and 15 min of cooking time.

Get your recipe of Pea Soup Frozen here

45 Pantry Meals for Tough Times texas caviar
  1. Red Lentil Dahl

The one-pot dish is a comforting Indian curry, and it is naturally free from gluten. It can be used as a midweek meal for the whole family.

Get your recipe of Red Lentil Dahl here

  1. Vegan Lentil Bolognese Sauce

The vegan lentil Bolognese sauce recipe is much in demand as it is healthy, nutritious and takes less than 30 min to cook. You can use this recipe for weeknight family meals.

Get your recipe of Vegan Lentil Bolognese Sauce here

  1. Lima Bean Soup

The Lima Bean Soup is very creamy and delicious and is quite filling! It is one of those soups that your family can enjoy for a lot of years.

Get your recipe of Lima Bean Soup here

  1. Easy Rice and Beans

The rice and beans recipe is easy to prepare and can be used as a side dish. One just needs a few staples from the pantry to make this dish in a quick time.

Get your recipe of Easy Rice and Beans here

  1. Molasses Baked Beans

The molasses baked beans are a hardy and delightful dish that will remind everyone of the summertime meals. They taste delicious with hot dogs or steak, and you can make them a part of your weekend get-togethers.

Get your recipe of Molasses Baked Beans here

45 Pantry Meals for Tough Times lima bean soup
  1. Vegan Sweet Corn Fritters Easy Quick Recipe

The vegan sweet corn fritters are a quick savory snack. It tastes great when you need a quick snack on a busy weekday.

Get your recipe of Vegan Sweet Corn Fritters Easy Quick Recipe here

  1. Easy Minestrone Soup Recipe

The classic Minestrone soup is a classic vegetarian dish that is healthy and easy to make. It is vegan and tastes incredible when prepared with chickpeas and rice.

Get your recipe of Easy Minestrone Soup Recipe here

  1. Vegetarian Taco Soup

The taco soup is a vegetarian soup that is perfect for a meatless day. The soup can be served with cornbread.

Get your recipe of Vegetarian Taco Soup here.


Pasta is so incredible – and can be gluten free, have added protein, fresh, or dried. At about a buck a box? It can help stretch meat with veggies in a sauce for a casserole or soup. It is on sale every 6 to 8 weeks and worth stocking up on for your pantry meals as a simple solution.

  1. Pizza Casserole Recipe

The Pizza casserole recipe is everyone’s favorite as it takes only 10 to 15 min to prepare and is made with only 6 to 7 ingredients.

Get your recipe of Pizza Casserole Recipe here

  1. Rigatoni Bake

The rigatoni bake tastes very similar to lasagne, but it is more flavorful as it is topped with loads of Parmesan cheese. It is an easy, weeknight dinner option for the whole family.

Get your recipe of Rigatoni Bake here

Easy Peasy Pizza Casserole
  1. Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

The mac and cheese is everyone’s favorite comfort food, which can be easily made in the instant pot in a few minutes.

Get your recipe of Instant Pot Mac and Cheese here

  1. Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil

It is a quick and easy authentic pasta dish that requires minimal effort and addition of only a few simple ingredients. It is a perfect recipe for those nights when you decide to buy pasta for dinner.

Get your recipe of Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil here

  1. Mushroom Pasta

The mushroom pasta recipe is perfect for the slow cookers, and you can prepare it during the weekends when life is less hectic for you. Just set your slow cooker for 2 hours to get the perfect mushroom pasta!

Get your recipe of Mushroom Pasta here

  1. Easy Dinner Silly Chilly Macaroni

It is difficult to think of delicious recipes that your children will love on weekends. Thankfully, the easy dinner silly chilly macaroni recipe is easy to make and fantastic to taste with shredded cheese and mild-flavored chilies.

Get your recipe of Easy Dinner Silly Chilly Macaroni here

  1. Sesame Noodles

The 15-minute sesame noodles recipe is top-rated as the dish can be made easily and quickly. One can serve it warm or cold, and the taste can be enhanced by adding in more vegetables.

Get your recipe of Sesame Noodles here.

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