Save on Pinterest

55 Foods to Make for Kids When Your Pantry Is (Almost) Bare

Made with a few kid-friendly ingredients these dishes can be thrown together when you're in a pinch. Don't have all the ingredients? Check out these substitutions for common pantry staples or use what you have on hand.

1 / 55

Pigs in a Blanket

These baked hot dog sandwiches appeal to kids of all ages. Even my husband, Allan, admits to enjoying every bite! We like to dip them in ketchup and mustard. —Linda Young, Longmont, Colorado

Get Recipe

2 / 55
Peanut Butter and Jelly French Toast

Peanut Butter and Jelly French Toast

I've always tried to make cooking fun—for myself, my daughters and my grandchildren. Cooking also teaches children the importance of following directions and being organized. This gourmet peanut butter and jelly recipe is easy to make and kids really like it. —Flo Burtnett, Gage, Oklahoma
3 / 55
Exps589 Sd2847494d02 12 9b Web 5

Quick Cherry Turnovers

Refrigerated crescent rolls let you make these fruit-filled pastries in a hurry. My family loves these turnovers for breakfast, but they’re so delicious, they’d be welcome any time of the day. Feel free to experiment with other pie fillings as well. —Elleen Oberrueter, Danbury, Iowa
4 / 55
Chicken Nuggets Exps Sdon18 1500 E06 13 1b 7

Chicken Nuggets

I like to make these golden chicken nuggets because they’re so quick and easy. My whole family loves them. You can also use the seasoning to cook chicken breast halves. Stack them on rustic bread with mayo, lettuce and tomato for delicious sandwiches. —Annette Ellyson, Carolina, West Virginia
5 / 55
Parmesan Baked Potatoes Exps1505 Bos2930251d 10 23 3bc Rms 4

Parmesan Baked Potatoes

It always amazed me that this simple recipe could make potatoes taste so good. Mom liked to make them for Easter because they were more special than ordinary baked potatoes. —Ruth Seitz, Columbus Junction, Iowa
6 / 55

Glazed Baby Carrots

For a zippy side dish, try this recipe. These brown sugar-glazed carrots come together in no time at all. —Anita Foster, Fairmount, Georgia
7 / 55
Quick Tater Tot Bake Exps Diyd19 4289 B06 25 2b 3

Quick Tater Tots Bake

I like to make this dish when time before supper is short. If we have unexpected company, I just double the ingredients and use a 13x9-in. pan. I call it my Please Stay Casserole! —Jean Ferguson, Elverta, California
8 / 55
Mexican Street Corn Bake  Exps Sdfm17 197642 B10 04 4b 5

Mexican Street Corn Bake

We discovered Mexican street corn at a festival. This easy one-pan version saves on prep and cleanup. Every August, I freeze a lot of our own fresh sweet corn, and I use that in this recipe, but store-bought corn works just as well. —Erin Wright, Wallace, Kansas
9 / 55
Garlic Bread Pizza Sandwiches

Garlic Bread Pizza Sandwiches

I love inventing new ways to make grilled cheese sandwiches for my kids. This version tastes like pizza. Using frozen garlic bread is a timesaver. —Courtney Stultz, Weir, Kansas
10 / 55
Cinnamon Apple Pan Betty Exps Cimz17 206101 D07 14 5b 2

Cinnamon Apple Pan Betty

I found this recipe soon after I was married decades ago. You'll need just a few ingredients that you probably have on hand. It's super quick to put together and a favorite of ours during fall and winter, when apples are at their best. —Shirley Leister, West Chester, Pennsylvania
11 / 55
Creamy Lemon Rice Exps Sdfm17 185692 C09 30 12b 3

Creamy Lemon Rice

This bright rice dish has a creamy texture that's reminiscent of a lemon risotto, but without all the watching and stirring. Keep this one in your back pocket for hosting dinner guests—or a great side any old day! —Lyndsay Wells, Ladysmith, British Columbia
12 / 55
Exps187208 Sd153320d12 11 3bv4 7

Chili Dog Pizza

My girls love it when I make this mash-up pizza with hot dogs and chili. It’s a marvelous way to use up leftover chili. —Jennifer Stowell, Smithville, Missouri
13 / 55
Exps187709 Th153340a10 02 1b Ap 3

Chocolaty Chips

My two little guys can't get enough of this sweet-and-salty snack, which uses just three ingredients and is ready to eat in 15 minutes. The boys like to drizzle on the melted chocolate, too. Sometimes we replace the potato chips with apple slices. —Jami Geittmann, Greendale, Wisconsin
14 / 55
Exps188896 Sd153323b06 03 5b Ver2 2

Baked Beef Tacos

This taco recipe takes classic taco ingredients and gives them a fresh approach by baking the shells upright in refried beans and tomatoes. The bottom gets soft, and the top stays crisp and crunchy. —Patricia Stagich, Elizabeth, New Jersey
15 / 55

No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

I have to be super careful when cooking for my daughter because of food sensitivities, so I make these no-bake peanut butter oatmeal bars with certified gluten-free oats. Everyone loves these bars when we go to picnics or potlucks, and I know there will be a dessert for my daughter! —Angela Lively, Conroe, Texas
16 / 55

Mountain Ham Supreme

Little kids think it's really neat how the bread makes mountains in the pan. Very tasty, too. —Keri Cotton, Lakeville, Minnesota
17 / 55
Exps154306 Sd153322c04 02 4b 2

Chicken & Waffles

My first experience with this dish sent my taste buds into orbit. I first made this chicken and waffles recipe into appetizers, but we all love them as a main course, too. —Lisa Renshaw, Kansas City, Missouri
18 / 55
Exps159269 Th153341b11 12 5b 1

Avocado Quesadillas

Avocados give quesadillas some nutritional value and, fortunately, my son likes them. Thinly slice the avocado, and add chicken or beef for extra protein. —Debbie Limas, North Andover, Massachusetts
19 / 55

Apple and Peanut Butter Stackers

The best way to get kids interested in cooking and eating right is to let them help. These apple and peanut butter "sandwiches" are one fun way to pique their interest and kitchen creativity. —Shirley Warren, Thiensville, Wisconsin
20 / 55

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Orzo

Broccoli and rice casserole tops my family's comfort food list, but when we need something fast, this is the stuff. Chicken and veggie orzo cooked on the stovetop speeds everything up. —Mary Shivers, Ada, Oklahoma
21 / 55
Exps192468 Ssc2919296a03 21 2bc Rms 4

Pizza in a Bowl

On busy days, it's a comfort to know that my family can sit down to dinner minutes after we walk in the door. Double it to wow at a potluck. This recipe works in a slow cooker, too. —Virginia Krites, Cridersville, Ohio
22 / 55

Grilled Hummus Turkey Sandwich

I created this toasted sandwich last summer using homemade hummus and veggies from our garden. We really can't get enough! —Gunjan Gilbert, Franklin, Maine
23 / 55

Frozen Chocolate Monkey Treats

Everyone needs a fun, friendly way for kids to play with food. These rich bites are nutty and yummy. Just coat bananas in chocolate and dip them into peanuts, sprinkles or coconut. —Susan Hein, Burlington, Wisconsin
24 / 55
Pasta With Roasted Garlic Tomatoes Exps167888 Th143190a09 27 6bc Rms 2

Pasta with Roasted Garlic & Tomatoes

Here’s a simple sauce with just four ingredients, and it's savory enough for a fancy party. I use bow tie pasta, but penne works, too. — Aysha Schurman, Ammon, Idaho
25 / 55
Exps167919 Th163619b09 29 8b 3

Weeknight Chicken Mozzarella Sandwiches

My husband is a big garlic fan, so we use garlic bread crumbs and garlic sauce for our baked chicken sandwiches, so comforting on a chilly day. —Bridget Snyder, Syracuse, New York
26 / 55
Chicken Bacon Roll Ups Exps Thca17 144171 D11 03 3b 3

Chicken & Bacon Roll-Ups

My children like these so much that they ask for them every day for lunch during the summer. Whenever I have leftover chicken or turkey breast, this is a delicious way to use it up. —Patricia Nieh, Portola Valley, California
27 / 55
Breaded Ranch Chicken Exps 13x9bz19 12015 E10 03 11b 2

Breaded Ranch Chicken

A crunchy coating of cornflakes and Parmesan cheese adds delectable flavor to this zesty ranch chicken. The golden, crispy chicken is a mainstay dish I can always count on. —Launa Shoemaker, Landrum, South Carolina
28 / 55

Vanilla French Toast

We discovered this easy French toast recipe in Mexico. We couldn't figure out what made the French toast so delicious until we learned the secret was vanilla. Since then, we've added a touch of vanilla to our waffle and pancake recipes, and it makes all the difference. —Joe and Bobbi Schott, Castroville, Texas
29 / 55
Easy Salsa Sloppy Joes Exps Gbbz19 23248 B11 28 5b 5

Easy Salsa Sloppy Joes

I created these sandwiches when I realized I did not have a can of sloppy joe sauce. The sweet brown sugar in this recipe complements the tangy salsa. —Mrs. Krista E Collins, Concord, North Carolina
30 / 55
Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies Exps Ucsbz17 21640 A05 25 6b 3

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Everyone who tries these beloved gems is amazed that they use only five ingredients. Baking cookies doesn't get much easier than this. —Dee Davis, Sun City, Arizona
31 / 55
Cheeseburger N Fries Casserole Exps 13x9bz19 7899 E10 05 6b 2

Cheeseburger and Fries Casserole

Kids love this casserole because it combines two of their favorite fast foods. And I like the fact that I can whip it up with just four ingredients. —Karen Owen, Rising Sun, Indiana
32 / 55

Peanut Butter, Apple and Raisin Sandwich

Tart, sweet and crunchy, these open-faced sammies are a perfect after-school (or after-work) snack. —James Schend, Taste of Home Deputy Editor
33 / 55

Spinach Ravioli Bake

This entree is unbelievably simple to prepare yet tastes delicious. The fact that you use frozen ravioli—straight from the bag without boiling or thawing—saves so much time.—Susan Kehl, Pembroke Pines, Florida
34 / 55
Cauliflower Broccoli Cheese Bake Exps174979 Th143193b04 11 3bc 1 Rms 5

Cauliflower-Broccoli Cheese Bake

One of the first dishes my mom taught me is a tasty pairing of cauliflower, cheese and broccoli. It's absolutely my best side. —Devin Mulertt, Napa, California
35 / 55
Waffle Iron Pizzas Exps Tohfm21 187180 E09 22 13b 6

Waffle-Iron Pizzas

These little waffle pizzas are a fun mashup using the waffle iron. Try your favorite toppings or even breakfast fillings like ham and eggs. —Amy Lents, Grand Forks, North Dakota
36 / 55
Hot Pineapple Ham Sandwiches Exps Sdjj17 201183 D02 16 6b 4

Hot Pineapple Ham Sandwiches

Your trusty slow cooker lets you make these warm, gooey sandwiches without heating up the house on a hot day. The mustard and brown sugar give them such satisfying richness. —Nancy Foust, Stoneboro, Pennsylvania
37 / 55
Broiled Pizza Burgers Exps26032 Gb143373d01 15 4bc Rms 2

Broiled Pizza Burgers

My mother made Broiled Pizza Burgers when I was growing up. We like them for Sunday supper, and they're even faster to fix if you use pre-browned hamburger from the freezer. We sometimes substitute slices of cheddar for the process cheese. —Mrs. Ann Bailes, Anderson, South Carolina
38 / 55
Turkey Ranch Wraps Exps8189 Kac2379526d05 16 6b Rms 1

Turkey Ranch Wraps

Here's a cool idea that's ready to gobble up in no time. It's a terrific use for deli turkey. Just add lettuce, tomato, green pepper, shredded cheese and ranch dressing for a flavorful blend. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
39 / 55
Fluffy Pancakes Exps Mrrmz16 7539 D09 09 1b 6

Fluffy Pancakes

This is the best fluffy pancakes recipe according to my family. They are quick and easy to prepare, but we still consider these homemade pancakes a special treat. —Eugene Presley, Council, Virginia
40 / 55
Exps138176 Sd143207d06 04 6b 3

Bean & Cheese Quesadillas

My son doesn't eat meat, so I created this recipe as a way for me to cook one meal for the family instead of two. It's so easy, my toddler grandson helps me make it! —Tina McMullen, Salina, Kansas
41 / 55

Hard-Boiled Eggs

In the kitchen, it's important to start with something simple, like how to cook hard-boiled eggs. Use this egg recipe in plenty of dishes, or eat them plain for a quick protein fix. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
42 / 55

Apple-Cinnamon Pudgy Pie

I remember the first time I tasted a pie-iron pie. My sister buttered up two slices of white bread while I peeled a Macintosh apple. She sliced the apple thin, arranged it on slice of bread, and poured liberal amounts of white sugar and cinnamon over top. I couldn't believe the magic that came out of that fire! We did them with raspberry jam too. Mmmm. —Monica Kronemeyer DeRegt, Abbotsford, British Columbia
43 / 55
Exps4491 Fr163878d01 06 6b 4

Grandmother's Corn Pudding

My grandmother always served this pudding for holidays and family reunions. Everyone loves it. Corn pudding is a popular side dish on Maryland's eastern shore. —Susan Brown Langenstein, Salisbury, Maryland
44 / 55
Stovetop Macaroni And Cheese Exps4428 Sd143204d12 10 4b Rms 3

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

When I was a girl, Mama used Texas longhorn cheese in this recipe. After it melted all over the macaroni, I loved to dig in and see how many strings of cheese would follow my spoonful. —Imogene Hutton, Brownwood, Texas
45 / 55
Exps7708 Mrr153791d09 18 2b 20

Basic Banana Muffins

This banana muffin recipe goes over so well with kids. Not only are these banana bread muffins like cupcakes, but they’re ready, start to finish, in just half an hour! —Lorna Greene, Harrington, Maine
46 / 55
Exps25759  Sd143206c04 08 4b 3

Garlic Toast Pizzas

Between working full-time, going to school and raising three children, finding time-saving recipes that my family likes is one of my biggest challenges. These quick pizzas pack a huge amount of flavor. —Amy Grim, Chillicothe, Ohio
47 / 55
No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bars Exps Ft20 110701 F 0129 1 1

No-Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bars

These peanut butter energy bars are made with natural ingredients, and there's no baking required! You can substitute sunflower seeds for the walnuts. Want more fiber? Add a little wheat germ. —Amy Crane, Richland, Michigan
48 / 55
Exps5554 Kac2379526c05 16 5b Web 8

Toad in the Hole

American Toad in a hole is one of the first recipes I had my children prepare when they were learning to cook. Much easier than the European version, this fun egg-in-a-hole is sure to please. My "little ones" are now grown (and have advanced to more difficult recipes!), but this continues to be a traditional standby in my home and theirs. —Ruth Lechleiter, Breckenridge, Minnesota
49 / 55

Country Ham and Potatoes

Browned potatoes are a simple but perfect side for country ham. Not only do the potatoes pick up the flavor of the ham, but they look beautiful! Just add veggies or a salad and dinner’s done. —Helen Bridges, Washington, Virginia
50 / 55

My Mother's Mac and Cheese

I remember my mother sending me to the store for 15 cents worth of cheese. The butcher would cut off a slice from a gigantic wheel covered with a wax-coated cloth. Mother would then blend that cheese into this tasty dish. Today, the memory of her cooking is like food for my soul. —Phyllis Burkland, Portland, Oregon
51 / 55
Ham And Cheese Pockets Exps Sdfm19 1092 C10 17 6b 5

Ham and Cheese Pockets

These unique sandwiches are filled with ingredients most kids like. Pack these ham and cheese pockets in kiddos' lunch boxes, or make them on weekends for the whole family. —Callie Myers, Rockport, Texas
52 / 55
Exps979  Cw143433c03 20 3b Web 2

Oven Parmesan Chips

My husband and I avoid fried foods, but potatoes are part of our menu almost every day. These delectable sliced potatoes get nice and crispy and give our meals a likable lift. —Mary Lou Kelly, Scottdale, Pennsylvania
53 / 55
Cheeseburger Cups Exps Gbbz19 45599 E11 13 11b 9

Cheeseburger Cups

A terrific recipe for moms with young kids and busy lives, this simple, inexpensive dish is made with handy ingredients and takes just a short time. Best of all, kids will go absolutely crazy for these darling dinner bites! —Jeri Millhouse, Ashland, Ohio
54 / 55

Broccoli-Pasta Side Dish

I love to fix new recipes for my husband, Robert, and our children. With garlic and cheese, this broccoli pasta is a tasty way to get kids to eat their veggies. —Judi Lacourse, Mesa, Arizona
55 / 55
Breakfast Potatoes Exps1475 W101973175a03 25 6b Rms 2

Breakfast Potatoes

These cheesy potatoes are a super morning side dish. I prepare them often for my husband and myself. They go great with just about any breakfast main dish. —Judy Dupree, Thief River Falls, Minnesota

Caroline Stanko
As an Associate Digital Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.
cover
Subscribe & SAVE Save Up To 80%!