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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!