9 Easy Pantry Meals To Help You Save Money

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Having a list of pantry meals you can make in a pinch can help you save money and time. No need to run out for take-out, just cook up some pantry staples.

canned beans and tuna in pantry

There are lots of reasons to cook from your pantry. You can save time, money, and a whole lot of stress when you keep some basic pantry staples on hand and regularly use them up.

Consider your standard pantry staples:

  • beans
  • rice
  • canned tuna
  • canned tomato products
  • spices

These ingredients are generally very affordable and easy to keep on hand since they require no refrigeration. They are the perfect building blocks to a Frugal Pantry.

But, why do you still find yourself staring into the cupboard wondering what to make for dinner?

Relax. It happens to all of us, but you can make life — and dinnertimes — a whole lot easier if you compile a list of pantry meals that work for you and your household.

Jot down some favorite meals  made with pantry staples and tack it inside the cupboard. Mischief managed!

Need a little help conjuring that list? Check out these nine pantry meals to save you money:

9 Pantry Meals To Help You Save Money

bean and rice bowl with chips and toppings

Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans

This traditional budget meal, Beans And Rice is super tasty and easy to make. Don’t think it’s fancy enough? Pile on the toppings! That’s what Chipotle does, and they call it a “burrito bowl”. Who knew something so easy and cheap could cause people to stand in line and fork over 8 bucks?

Make enough to feed an army with your eight dollars!

Mix it up with Mexican Rice, Homemade Pintos or Instant Pot Black Beans, freshly made Salsa, and other fun toppings.

big pot of marinara sauce with fresh herbs garnish

Everyday Marinara Sauce

Pasta is a go-to meal for being hearty as well as inexpensive. You can easily find pasta for $1.00/pound or less — even organics. Stock up!

While you’re at it, load up on canned tomato products, such as crushed tomatoes so that you can whip up a homemade marinara sauce in minutes.

This Everyday Marinara Sauce recipe is so simple, you’ll wonder why you ever purchased commercial spaghetti sauce. Add meat or a sprinkling of parmesan or keep it simple for a filling, yet frugal meal.

sliced burrito pizza with pizza cutter

Homemade Pizza

If you’ve got flour and yeast on hand, you’ve got the makings of pizza! I know, pizza might not be first on your mind when you look in the pantry, but when you make my favorite Burrito Pizza, you’re just a handful of cheese and a jalapeño away from an awesome pantry meal.

Alternatively, whip up a quick pizza sauce and you’ve got the start to a traditional pie.

Pro tip: Don’t restrict your pantry meals to just nonperishables. Shredded cheese is easy to keep on hand in the fridge or freezer, so you can basically make pizza whenever you like!

tuna salad in pita bread halves

Tuna Sandwiches

Tuna sandwiches are a mainstay when you’re eating on a budget or with a limited kitchen. That humble can of tuna can do wonders in a Tuna Salad that you can stuff into Pita Pockets, tuck into a sandwich, or meld into a panini with cheese.

You can dress up or dress down your tuna sandwiches, depending on what you have on hand and how your mood strikes.

pan of fried rice with potstickers and sauces

Fried Rice

Fried Rice is God’s gift to pantry challengers. All you need is cold cooked rice and a few mix-in’s, such as ham, veggies, and an egg.

You can vary the mix-in’s based on what you have on hand — go vegetarian or make it meatier with a bit of chicken.

Drizzle on some soy sauce or sriracha for a little extra pizazz. Fried Rice is a cheap and filling meal you’ll want to put on repeat.

plate of meats, cheeses, egg, fruit, and pickle

Snacky Lunch/Dinner

Snacky lunches and dinners are some of the best. You don’t need large amounts of any one ingredient because everyone can grab little bits of what they like here and there. It’s a perfect pantry meal.

Raid the fridge for whatever meats, cheese, veggies, fruits, eggs, and pickles you have on hand and clear out all those boxes of crackers you’ve been collecting in the pantry.

If the veggie bin is on point, you can whip up a small batch of English pickle for some extra zing!

tureen of spicy vegetable soup with basket of rolls

Vegetable Soup

Soup is a fantastic pantry meal — without a red label in sight! It’s incredibly easy to stir up a pot of soup with a can of beans, a tin of tomato sauce, and some veggies from the basket.

This Easy Vegetable Soup mixes up quickly and easily in a matter of minutes! Add a few buttered crackers on the side and dinner is served!

breakfast burrito cut in half, pitcher of orange juice

Breakfast Burritos 

Breakfast for dinner is a winner of a pantry dinner. And Breakfast Burritos are no exception to the rule.

Fry or scramble some eggs and tuck them into tortillas with whatever meats and cheeses you have on hand. Breakfast never looked so good.

Don’t forget to blend up a batch of Super Easy Salsa to add a little kick.

wooden bowl filled with tuna macaroni salad

Tuna Mac

Macaroni salads come together in a matter of minutes, thanks to quick-cooking pastas. Make yours a little more by tossing in a can of tuna and some seasonings and vegetables.

You’ll be amazed how satisfying this Tuna Macaroni Salad is for breakfast or lunch. And it’s super easy on the wallet.

Got your list ready to tape to the cupboard door? I’d love to hear what pantry meals you’ve included.

What meals do YOU make with pantry staples?

Easy Pantry Meals to Help You Save Money

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Janet says

    We almost always have milk, eggs, onions, and potatoes on hand so that is where I usually start for pantry meals. A few of our favorites not on your list include:

    Potato soup– potatoes, evaporated skim milk, butter, onions and a few spices.
    Salmon patties—a can of salmon, bread crumbs, an egg, and salt & pepper.
    Pancakes or waffles served with eggs.

    When all else fails, I make hash—potatoes, sautéed vegetables and whatever bits of meat on hand served with an over easy egg or two on top.

  2. Laura says

    Spaghetti is another one for us.

    Chili. I almost always always have ground beef in the freezer. We grow peppers in the summer and chop and freeze the excess to use during the winter. I also always have garlic and onions since they have a decent shelf life and all other ingredients come from the pantry.

    Frittata. Eggs and whatever else I have on hand goes in there.

    Baked potatoes. The possibilities for toppings are endless, making it easy to use what you have on hand.

  3. Susan says

    Breakfast for dinner (pancakes, eggs, homemade biscuits or muffins, fruit) is usually a go to idea or omelets are great for using up bits of meat and veggies. I don’t often have time to make pancakes anymore in the morning so the kids love it when I make them for dinner.

    I am having my own pantry challenge and 3 of your ideas were on my meal plan for the week.

  4. Sue says

    My go to pantry dinner is chili. I always have frozen ground beef in my freezer, canned diced tomatoes canned beans, and chili spices in my pantry.

  5. Pat says

    If I buy some tuna I could make everything on this list and more!
    My go to meals now seem to be breakfast for dinner , a pasta meal or a variety of chili. We grew goobs of tomatoes, green peppers, and onions in the garden this year so I’ve got lots of homemade tomato sauce in the freezer to make whatever sauce I need .

  6. Lisa M Mettam says

    My kids love when I throw together some Chicken Pot Pie Soup – onion and a can of sliced mushrooms sauteed in butter, a large can of mushroom soup, milk, a bag of frozen mixed/soup veggies, canned chicken (or leftover rotisserie chicken), herbs and a bit of chicken broth to make it more soup-like. Throw in a bit of leftover ham too and it’s even more of a winner. The can of mushroom soup might not be the healthiest thing, but if it gets dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes in a pinch, that’s a win for me.

  7. Cindy Contorno says

    Pasta and peas with sheared egg (sauted onion and garlic ofcoure) tossed with olive oil, sprinkled with Italian cheese.
    Cost for 8 servings: $2.00

  8. Anna Gregory says

    Being right in the middle of Lent and needing quick fish dinners, I love this go-to tuna pasta dish (and I even do it all in the same skillet!!)

    Boil pasta in skillet (fettucini is good) and drain (save some pasta water). In same skillet, heat olive oil, add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper and saute. Add garlic, tuna and dried basil and saute. Add pasta and heat through. Season as needed and add pasta water if necessary.Done.

    I’ve also done this with rice and we love it too!!

  9. Jessica K says

    Kale & tofu stir-fry. A block of tofu is about $1.10. crumble it and saute it with an onion and garlic. Add in 4 cups of cooked brown rice, some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (low sodium soy sauce), and a couple big handfulls of kale. I grow my own kale so this meal feeds my family of 7 for just under $2.

  10. Susan says

    Rice mix, canned chicken, onion, celery, and frozen broccoli or peas.

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