30 Pantry Recipes to Get You Out of a Cooking Rut

Updated: Jan. 05, 2022

Sick of making the same old recipes from what you can find on hand? These tasty meals start with pantry staples but go way beyond the ordinary.

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Quickpea Curry

This colorful curry is a nice change of pace for a busy weeknight. I like to substitute fresh peas for frozen when they're in season. —Beth Fleming, Downers Grove, Illinois
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Spanish Rice

You'll find my easy Spanish rice is better than any boxed mix in grocery stores. Best of all, it can be prepared in the same amount of time as those so-called "quick and easy" boxes. —Anne Yaeger, Washington, DC
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Quick and Easy Vegetable Potpie

This meatless Monday superstar comes together quickly and is inexpensive as well. My 4-year-old always asks for seconds! You can substitute any canned or frozen beans for the canned lentils in this easy vegetable potpie. We also like using frozen edamame. —Maggie Torsney-Weir, Los Angeles, California
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Smoky Chicken Nachos

What's game day without can't-stop-munching nachos? Featuring layers of crunchy tortilla chips, black beans and a creamy, smoky chicken mixture, this appetizer will disappear before the second quarter. —Whitney Smith, Winterhen, Florida
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Confetti Kielbasa Skillet

Here's one of my husband's favorite dishes. When it's in season, substitute fresh corn for frozen. Add a dash of cayenne pepper if you like a little heat. —Sheila Gomez, Shawnee, Kansas
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Shrimp Ramen

A package of store-bought noodles will speed up assembly of this colorful shrimp ramen that's flavored with carrots and small shrimp. My mother passed the recipe on to me. It’s delicious and so quick to make on busy nights. —Donna Hellinger, Lorain, Ohio
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Chicken Biscuit Skillet

My mother always made this while we were growing up. Now I make it for my own husband and kids. I use the small biscuits since their tops brown so nicely. I also sometimes add mushrooms to this recipe because my family loves them. —Keri Boffeli, Monticello, Iowa
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Tex-Mex Bean Bake with Cornbread Topping

I frequently cooked this dish when I was on the cross-country team in college. We loved this veggie-packed bake so much I would have to make two! For a meaty version, substitute shredded chicken for half of the potato. —Samantha Westveer, Kentwood, Michigan
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Sausage & Vegetable Skillet Dinner

I threw this sausage recipe together one night to use up produce before going out of town. Who knew it was going to be such a hit! Now it’s a recipe I turn to whenever time is tight. —Elizabeth Kelley, Chicago, Illinois
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Slow-Cooker Italian Sloppy Joes

These tasty sloppy joes with plenty of mass appeal are perfect for a gathering. If you're taking them to an event, simplify things by cooking the beef mixture and stirring in other ingredients the night before. Cool the meat sauce in shallow bowls in the fridge, then cover and refrigerate them overnight. The next day, transfer the meat mixture to the slow cooker to keep it warm for the party. —Hope Wasylenki, Gahanna, Ohio
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Mexican Bean Soup

It never hurts to have a few meals that you can whip up in very little time, and this hearty soup is one of my busy-day favorites. Green chiles and chili powder give it some oomph. —Colleen Delawder, Herndon, Virginia
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Fold-Over Tortilla Bake

Here’s something a little different to shake up taco night. But don’t reserve this zippy dish for a weeknight—it’s perfect for potlucks and serving company, too. something a little different from the usual tacos. It's special enough for potlucks or dinner guests. —Deborah Smith, DeWitt, Nebraska
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Corn Dog Casserole

Reminiscent of traditional corn dogs, this fun main dish really hits the spot on fall days. It's perfect for the football parties my husband and I often host. It tastes especially good right from the oven. -Marcy Suzanne Olipane, Belleville, Illinois
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Quick Tomato Soup

There's nothing like a steamy bowl of classic tomato soup on a cold February day. The addition of sugar puts a sweet spin on this version. For extra loveliness, top with homemade heart-shaped croutons. —Jane Ward, Churchville, Maryland
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Sheepherder's Breakfast

My sister-in-law always made this delicious breakfast dish when we were camping and had to come up with good, easy breakfast ideas. Served with toast, juice and milk or coffee, it's a sure hit with the breakfast crowd! One-dish casseroles like this were a big help while I was raising my nine children. Now I've passed this recipe on to them. —Pauletta Bushnell, Albany, Oregon
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One-Pot Meaty Spaghetti

I used to help my mom make this when I was growing up, and the recipe stuck. It was a beloved comfort food at college and is now a weeknight staple for my fiance and me. —Kristin Michalenko, Seattle, Washington
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Creamy Noodle Casserole

My husband, Ronald, works long hours and frequently doesn't arrive home until past 7 p.m. This casserole is ideal for those late nights—it's just as tasty after it's been warmed in the microwave. —Barb Marshall, Pickerington, Ohio
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Egg Drop Soup

We often start our stir-fry meals with this fast egg drop soup recipe— it cooks in just minutes flat. There are many versions of the recipe, but we like the easy addition of cornstarch to thicken the soup and give it a rich, golden color. I got the recipe from my grandma’s old cookbook. —Amy Beth Corlew-Sherlock, Lapeer, Michigan
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Unstuffed Peppers

If you like stuffed peppers, you'll love this speedy version. It offers all the comforting flavor of the original, but takes just half an hour. Instead of cooking the instant rice, you can use 2 cups leftover cooked rice if you have it on hand. —Beth Dewyer, Du Bois, Pennsylvania
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Quicker Chicken and Dumplings

Ready in just 30 minutes, this homey meal relies on convenience items and timesaving drop-style dumplings. It couldn’t be any easier! —Willie DeWaard, Coralville, Iowa
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Asian Beef and Noodles

Asian beef recipes don't get much simpler. This colorful, economical stir-fry dish takes only five ingredients—all of which you're likely to have on hand. Serve with a dash of soy sauce and a side of pineapple slices. —Laura Stenberg, Wyoming, Minnesota
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Potato Chowder

One of the ladies in our church quilting group brought this savory potato soup to a meeting, and everyone loved how the cream cheese and bacon made it so rich. It's easy to assemble in the morning so it can simmer on its own all day. —Anna Mayer, Fort Branch, Indiana
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Quick Tater Tots Bake

I like to make this Tater Tot casserole 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
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Creamy Skillet Noodles with Peas

I’ve made this creamy noodle side for years. Since kids and adults go for it, I keep the ingredients on hand at all times. —Anita Groff, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania
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Super Fast Mexican Soup

We take this spicy soup to rodeos on cool nights or sip it by a campfire. For toppings, try onions, avocado, cheese, jalapenos, sour cream and salsa. —Gloria Huse, Simpsonville, South Carolina
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Salsa Verde Chicken Casserole

This is a rich and surprisingly tasty rendition of a number of Tex-Mex dishes molded into one packed, beautiful casserole. Best of all, it’s ready in hardly any time! —Janet McCormick, Proctorville, Ohio
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Spinach and White Bean Soup

For me, soup is love, comfort, happiness and memories. With all its veggies and beans, this one appeals to my kitchen-sink style of cooking. —Annette Palermo, Beach Haven, New Jersey
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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
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Vegetable Noodle Casserole

If you're looking for a filling side dish, this recipe fits the bill. It combines nutritious vegetables and hearty noodles in a delectable cream sauce. Whenever I serve this dish, it gets passed around until the pan is scraped clean. —Jeanette Hios, Brooklyn, New York