Pantry meal recipe contest

During the summer, when someone asks, “What’s for dinner?” I tend to walk out the back door and look to the garden for an answer. Now that the garden has nothing but kale and chard, I’m looking more and more to the pantry.

And I’m terribly bored.

Yes, we love split pea soup.Yes, we’ve had lentils and rice this week. And I find myself asking, “What else can you make with this stuff?”

So I’m inaugurating my first blog contest! Post here your favorite “pantry meal” recipes. I’ll pick a favorite and send the winner a homemade dinner “kit” of the whole-grain, just-add-water variety.

The guidelines:

  • Most ingredients should be shelf-stable without refrigeration: dried beans, grains, canned goods, or root-cellared items (garlic, onions, squash, cabbage, etc.) If you want to also say, “…and add a sausage and some fresh greens, if you like” that’s fine, but it should stand on its own without.
  • Ingredients that can be sourced locally in the US Midwest are awesome, but I’m certainly not going to bar you from using rice, cumin, olives, black pepper, etc.
  • Main dishes and one-dish meals are highly encouraged!

Enter as often as you like! Judging will be entirely subjective to the whims of the (lactose-intolerant and somewhat capricious) judge. I’ll pick a fave on Nov. 7, 2008.



  1. Momster said,

    October 31, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    “Stovies” work for us! Sautee a chopped onion and 2 or 3 potatoes. Add a can of corned beef and half the can (start with less) of water. Add curry powder to taste. Can be served with an egg on top, too. Easy to double up on potatoes and feed four.

  2. dakota said,

    October 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    How about a stew? I used great northern beans, chopped butternut squash, diced stewed tomatoes, some broth, half an onion, several cloves of garlic, potatoes, and some carrots, let it boil for a while, and then served it. I added buffalo meat to mine, but it would have tasted just fine without.

    Given that I tend to cook by the “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” method, there’s no exact measurements.

  3. Oldnovice said,

    November 1, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I’ve been incorporating quinoa into our diet of late, finding it particularly amenable to whatever the hell I want (or have on hand) to mix with it. I fix meals using quinoa with meat, or without meat depending on my mood and store at hand, knowing that we’re getting a complete protein with the quinoa alone.

    I like to add BIG flavors to the quinoa dishes: cilantro, cayenne, garlic, tomato.

    Just yesterday, I experimented with a meat loaf baked in the solar oven that had more veggies than meat. I picked and chopped arugula that self-seeded itself in what will be my spring garden area. Knowing that my husband isn’t keen on the bitter taste of arugula, I chopped and added a kiwi that had shriveled, a bunch of grapes that looked too undesirable to eat, cottage cheese, chopped cheddar cheese, chopped onion, green and yellow bell peppers, worchester sauce, etc. … garbage meatloaf at its best. The end result (even after draining off excess juices during the cooking process) was too moist to solidify into a loaf, but a few minutes in the microwave and it sure was tasty, served with mashed potatoes and frozen vegetables.

  4. Barbara (in Tennessee) said,

    November 5, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Okay, here are some of my standbys,

    red beans and rice, with smoked sausage if you have it

    gumbo, (but then my “pantry” (which includes refrigerator and freezer) always has frozen or dried okra) made from celery, onions, green peppers, canned tomatoes , chicken broth, okra, cajun seasoning (or mix your own), cooked chicken (or shrimp, not local for me) brown rice.

    I know there’s more, I just can’t think of anything . . . .

    Oh yeah, if you have eggs and cheese, (ham would be good too) there are lots of things you can cook : first off, omelets, grilled cheese sandwiches, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, pancakes, scrambled eggs with cheese, ham, egg cheesse biscuits (choose any or all)

    I’ll post again if I think of anything else.

  5. Emily said,

    November 6, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Emily, this is Emily from We’re also having a recipe contest … but for comfort food. I doubt all the recipes will fit your guidelines, but they’re all posted if you’d like to browse for inspiration: – and we’d love to have you enter a recipe as well! The prize is a $250 gift certificate to

  6. Erika said,

    November 6, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    We’re big fans of red beans and rice. I don’t follow a recipe I just put in what I have and what looks good.

    I cook up a couple of diced onions and garlic in some olive oil. Add some canned tomatoes or pasta sauce (whichever I have in the cupboard), red beans (usually of the canned variety), some chili powder, tobasco, red pepper, black pepper and any other spices that taste good. Cook it all together for 20 min or so until the flavors blend. Then serve it over rice.

    You can also add sausage, diced green and/or red pepper, a chili pepper, or a wide variety of other things that may or may not be pantry-fare.

  7. Susan said,

    November 7, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    This vegan creamy tomato soup is my new pantry favorite:

    Good question!

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