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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

What to Cook When You Don't Want to Go to the Grocery Store

Dear Blue Apron,

From all the shopping I’ve done for various recipes over the years, I’ve ended up with a decently stocked pantry, full of grains, beans, and other canned goodies. What are some good dinner options that’ll make use of my pantry abundance—and keep me from having to make another trip to the grocery store? 


—Well Stocked

Dear Well Stocked,

There are so many wonderful things that can come out of your pantry now that it’s been slowly but surely stocked—stuffed, even. You can now get in the excellent habit of stopping for one or two ingredients on the way home from work, rather than attempting to fulfill a mile-long shopping list when you’re tired and hungry.

Here are a handful of delicious ideas for dinner where the bulk of the ingredients come from the pantry.

1. Chickpea, Vegetable, and Quinoa Cakes

Chickpea Quinoa Cakes

Chickpeas, are a staple widely used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking—meaning that if you always have a can around, you’ll have the start to a huge variety of dinners. Here, the chickpeas are mixed with another pantry staple, quinoa, and formed into delicious little veggie burgers that we like to pair with a thrown-together salad. Just pick up some fresh lettuce, and you’ll be good to go.

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2. Louisiana Style Red Beans and Rice

Cajun Lentils and Rice

Brown rice, tomato paste, red lentils, and vegetable broth become a completely luscious and slightly spicy main course thanks to a dose of tomato paste and a sprinkle of Cajun-style seasoning. Though we add spinach and parsley to this recipe, you can skip them in a pinch, making this a true pantry dinner.

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3. Pasta with Quinoa Meatballs

Quinoa Meatballs

Amazingly, you don’t need meat to make meatballs. In this recipe, panty staple quinoa is used in place of ground beef in this delicious pasta topper. That means you only need pasta and tomatoes, both pantry staples, to make this a complete meal. Of course, if you have Parmesan cheese on hand, you’ll definitely want to sprinkle that on!

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4. Saffron Bulgur Pilaf

Saffron Pilaf

Pilafs are the perfect pantry meal: You just need some grains, nuts, and spices and you’ve got a great start. While this one calls for bulgur—quick-cooking cracked wheat that should definitely be stocked in your cabinets—saffron, vegetable broth, almonds, and currants, you could use couscous, paprika, raisins or dried apricots, and walnuts. Whatever you have in your pantry can fit the bill! The grains are supplemented by fresh vegetables—we recommend squash, onion, and Swiss chard, but you can use any vegetables you have in the fridge (a.k.a. the “vegetable pantry”) instead.

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