12 Nourishing Vegetarian Meals You Can Make From Pantry Staples

While fresh food is more often than not my go-to for my own cooking, there are times when a reliable pantry meal can really come in handy. Maybe you’ve just come back from a trip and are scrounging through the cupboards for something to eat. Maybe you want to work your way through all those panty staples you picked up ages ago. Or maybe it feels like the sky is falling right now. 

Whatever the reason, we got this. We’re going to get some healthy, filling, and delicious meals on the table, together.

If you’re thinking that cooking from your pantry sounds boring and bland, think again! Whether you’re leaning in on dried beans (related: how to cook dried beans) and lentils, or whether you’re wondering what kind of magic you can create with a bag of frozen vegetables (related: how to roast frozen vegetables) there is a recipe for you. 

And hey, if freezer meals are more your thing, we’ve got a great list of Vegetarian Freezer Meals for you to check out. 

Vegetarian Pantry Meals

photo collage of vegetarian pantry meals

1. Red Lentil Dal

I think a bowl of dal has got to be one of the coziest meals out there. This red lentil dal is made with a blend of lentils, warming spices, and a few other bits and bobs from the pantry. Best of all, you can make it in your Instant Pot or your Slow Cooker!

Red lentil dal in a white bowl with brown rice

Red Lentil Dal
This easy Red Lentil Dal recipe is a homemade twist on the Indian classic. Completely vegan and naturally gluten-free, you can make Slow Cooker Lentil Dal or Instant Pot Dal to make weeknight cooking a breeze. Packed with warming spices and plant-based protein, it's a simple vegetarian recipe that's sure to go into regular rotation.
Check out this recipe

2. Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry

If you’ve got canned or dried chickpeas on hand, you can totally make this chickpea curry. If you don’t have fresh veggies on hand frozen will do just fine added towards the end of the cooking time. 

Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry
This easy Chickpea Curry is completely vegan, packed with vegetables, and can be made in the Slow Cooker or the Instant Pot. Mildly spiced and balanced with coconut milk, this vegetarian curry is freezer friendly to boot.
Check out this recipe
a bowl of vegan chickpea curry with a bowl of rice in the background

3. Orecchiette with Broccoli and Lemon

This quick and easy pasta dish is one of my favourite weeknight meals. You can use any pasta shape you’ve got on hand, a squeeze of lemon (bottled lemon juice will do in a pinch) and fresh or frozen broccoli. 

Orecchiette with broccoli and lemon on a blue plate with parmesan

Orecchiette with Broccoli and Lemon
This quick and easy Orecchiette with Broccoli and Lemon is a perfect weeknight dinner. It's loaded with veggies, comes together in a flash, and is simple yet still sophisticated. 
Check out this recipe
orecchiette with broccoli and lemon on a patterned plate with lemons and parmesan

4. Tempeh Bolognese

Tempeh is one of my favourite plant-based proteins (related: a guide to protein for vegetarians and vegans) and it lasts for ages in the freezer. This Tempeh Bolognese sauce may not be traditional, but it’s got great, comforting flavour. 

Tempeh Bolognese
This easy vegetarian bolognese sauce is made with crumbled tempeh, nutritional yeast, and flavourful spices. Done in under 30 minutes but with all-day flavour and packed with plant-based protein, this vegetarian pasta sauce is the perfect quick and healthy weeknight dinner. 
Check out this recipe
A bowl of tempeh bolognese over pasta with a grey tea towel in the background

5. Chickpea Noodle Soup

Move over, chicken, there’s a new noodle soup in town! This Chickpea Noodle Soup starts with dried chickpeas, long-lasting veggies like carrots, celery, and onions, and is topped with handfuls of kale – but you can totally add frozen kale, or skip the greens if needed.

overhead photo of two bowls of chickpea noodle soup on a grey background with leaves of kale scattered around

Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup
Imagine a delicious vegan chicken noodle soup, and that's what we've got here! This simple Chickpea Noodle Soup is loaded with veggies, fragrant chickpea broth, and a handful of pasta tossed in at the end. Made in the Instant Pot for super fast and easy cooking, but stovetop instructions are also included.
Check out this recipe
two white and blue bowls of vegan noodle soup with some kale leaves and scones in the background

6. Mung Bean and Coconut Curry

If you’ve been wondering what to do with that bag of mung beans in the back of your cupboard, this is what! Packed with flavour and easy to make, Mung Bean Curry is a fan favourite here on HNL.

two silver bowls of mung bean curry

Mung Bean and Coconut Curry
Mung Bean and Coconut Curry! This easy vegan curry is packed with Indian flavours, coconut milk, cilantro, and lime. It's incredibly easy and can be made in the Instant Pot or on the stove top. 
Check out this recipe
mung bean and coconut curry on a grey background

7. Red Lentil Stew

Is there anything that lentils can’t do?! This Red Lentil Stew comes together in under 30 minutes, packs in a bunch of veggies, and tastes delicious. Pro tip: that bag of shredded zucchini you froze last summer will work great in this recipe!

two bowls of red lentil stew and a red ceramic pot of stew on a grey background

Red Lentil Stew
This easy Red Lentil Stew recipe is the perfect weeknight dinner when you want something healthy, quick, and delicious. It's completely vegan, loaded with veggies, and comes together in under 30 minutes. Make Instant Pot Lentil Stew or cook it on your stove top, and serve with rice or pasta. Top with chili flakes if you want to bring the heat, or leave it as is for the kids.
Check out this recipe
red lentil stew in a ceramic bowl

8. Creamy One-Pot Pasta with Peas

 Take it from me: If you’ve got a bag of frozen peas, some pasta, and a bit of yogurt kicking around in the back of your fridge, you can make a super tasty and comforting pasta dish in under 20 minutes. 

two bowls of pasta with peas on a grey background with a small bowl of frozen peas to the side

One-Pot Creamy Pasta with Peas
Creamy One-Pot Pasta with Peas is a simple, nutritious dinner you can have on the table in under 20 minutes. With just a handful of ingredients and a yogurt cream sauce, this vegetarian pasta recipe is easy, comforting, and delicious.
Check out this recipe
a bowl of pasta with peas on a blue napkin

9. One-Pot Lemony Kale Noodles

A mixture of regular and legume pasta bump up the protein in this unassuming dish that requires only a handful of ingredients to make. Frozen kale is totally fine if you don’t have fresh on hand, and a big pinch of red pepper flakes is highly recommended.

overhead photo of kale noodles on a blue platter with a plate of kale spaghetti to the side

One-Pot Lemony Kale Noodles
One-Pot Lemony Kale Noodles is a super simple vegetarian weeknight pasta dinner. Kind of like a riff on spaghetti aglio e olio with lots of kale and lemon added in. Made with lentil pasta to bump up the protein content, this is an easy vegetarian or vegan recipe.
Check out this recipe
kale noodles on a blue plate with lemons and parmesan in the background

10. Vegetarian Quesadillas with Pumpkin and Black Beans

Got a can of pumpkin in the back of your freezer, or a stash of homemade pumpkin purée? Got some beans, and some tortillas kicking around? Perfect. These Vegetarian Quesadillas are baked, not fried, so you can whip up a big batch all at once. 

vegetarian quesadillas on a white plate with pumpkin in the background

Vegetarian Quesadillas with Pumpkin and Black Beans
These Vegetarian Quesadillas with Pumpkin and Black Beans are easy, healthy, and delicious! You can make a big batch of these oven baked quesadillas at once, which is perfect for meal prep or if you’re feeding a crowd. They’re freezer friendly too, and you can mix up the veggies, leave out the cheese for vegan quesadillas, or customize them any other way you like.
Check out this recipe
vegetarian quesadillas on a white plate with pumpkin in the background

11. Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

No shepherds were harmed in the making of this Lentil Shepherd’s Pie! Made with lentils, frozen peas, and my favourite Greek Yogurt Mashed Potatoes, you can bang this dish together no problem with a few vegetarian pantry staples. 

a plate of lentil shepherd's pie with a white casserole dish in the background

Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Lentil Shepherd's Pie! This vegan shepherd's pie recipe is easy to make in your Instant Pot, slow cooker, or on the stove top. Simply top with mashed potatoes for a healthy gluten-free vegetarian dinner! 
Check out this recipe
lentil shepherd's pie on a blue plate topped with chives

12. Kale Lasagna with Cottage Cheese

Made with no-boil lasagna noodles, frozen kale, and my favourite Instant Pot Pasta Sauce, this Kale Lasagna is the ultimate in pantry cooking. And the best news? It’s freezer friendly to boot!

a white casserole dish with kale lasagna on a grey background

Kale Lasagna with Cottage Cheese
If you're looking for a hearty and delicious meatless lasagna recipe, Kale Lasagna is it! Made with a veggie-loaded tomato sauce, protein-packed cottage cheese, and no-boil noodles, this healthy recipe is easy to make and kid-friendly to boot. Perfect for a make-ahead meal but simple enough to pull together on a weeknight.
Check out this recipe
a piece of kale lasagna on a blue plate with a plate of bread to the side


  1. Anne Titcomb says

    I love all these recipes!! Really liked the mung bean one!!! But Katie, help me, as there is no bean that likes me. I can get away with garbanzos, but only a little!! My big thing right now is lots of different, veggies with rice and whatever protein I have on hand!! So I love the veggie recipes!! Keep you and your family well in this crazy time and huge hugs.

    • Katie Trant says

      Some people just have a tougher time digesting beans than others. If you cook beans from scratch, often discarding the soaking water is helpful, as is slightly overcooking them. But the unfortunate truth is that some people just can’t do beans.

  2. Claire says

    Thanks for this roundup! I’m working from home now and taking social distancing protocols seriously, so I find myself with more time to cook. I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes that I haven’t had time for!

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