Pantry Must Haves For Quick Painless Dinners

Katherine Heigl With Pantry Must Haves

I am currently on a time management kick, new year, new me and all, and I have found that having a handful of go to painless dinner options in my repertoire has saved me a tremendous amount of time lately. I keep an incredibly well stocked pantry, mostly because I keep forgetting to inventory what I have and continue to buy duplicates of things because I’m…well…kind of scattered. So I have cans upon cans of every kind of bean, tomatoes, olive, caper and fish (that can be canned that is.) I have boxes upon boxes of pasta, flour, sugar, breadcrumbs, oats, grain, baking soda…well, you get the idea. One night recently the chicken I needed for the night’s dinner had not defrosted in time to start prepping and I had only an hour till my children rioted and burned the house down in a hungry rage. I quickly started searching online for something I could easily whip up and that didn’t require anything I may not have defrosted or in the fridge. I found a Pasta Puttanesca recipe that I had all the ingredients for conveniently located in my over stocked pantry and got to work cooking. It took me about 15 minutes to make, was totally delicious and satisfying, and inspired me to come up with four more pantry prep dinner go-to’s. You’re welcome!

Just hanging in my super organized pantry, cause...well, that's how I roll.
Just hanging in my super organized pantry, cause...well, that's how I roll.
Every door is labeled so now I'm not the only one who knows where everything goes.
Every door is labeled so now I'm not the only one who knows where everything goes.

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca
Pasta Puttanesca
Pantry Must Haves
  1. Olive Oil
  2. Anchovy Fillets
  3. Canned Tomatoes
  4. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  5. Sliced Pitted Black Olives (Preferably Oil Cured)
  6. Capers
  7. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  8. Spaghetti
  9. Fresh Parsley and Grated Parmesan (ok not pantry items and if you don’t have them in the fridge the dish is just as good.)

My favorite recipe for this dish is from New York Times Cooking but you have to join to get their recipes and you may not want to do that. Though I have to say I think it’s well worth it. I’ve been cooking almost exclusively from their recipes lately and not one has failed me! If you’re not interested in one more subscription (trust me I get it) then check out Rachael Ray’s yummy and quick sounding recipe. The only thing I’d do differently is buy the olives already pitted and sliced to save even a little more time.

Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili

Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili
Pantry Must Haves
  1. Olive Oil
  2. Garlic
  3. Yellow Onion
  4. Dried Spices
  5. Canned Beans or Dried Beans
  6.  Water or Broth
  7. Canned Tomatoes
  8. Tomato Paste
  9. Peppers of Your Choice

As far as spices go you need the basics like chili powder, dried oregano, and cumin. If you have more spices than places to put them like me then you might want to get a little creative and add say a dash of cinnamon or maybe two dashes of cayenne (I like it really hot) or maybe a touch of smoked paprika for a lovely smokey vibe. Smitten Kitchen has an absolutely delicious sounding recipe that calls for a bottle of beer,  so if you choose this recipe add that to your pantry list. I also really liked the sound of this recipe which calls for canned chipotle peppers instead of fresh which might be even more convenient than having fresh on hand.

Pressure Cooker Clam Chowder

Pressure Cooker Clam Chowder
Pantry Must Haves
  1. Canned Clams
  2. Clam Juice or Liquid from Canned Clams
  3. Bacon (again not a pantry item but lasts about as long as one in the fridge)
  4. Onions
  5. White Wine
  6. Potatoes
  7. Bay Leaf
  8. Milk, Butter and Cream (also not pantry items but most everybody has this in the fridge, unless your lactose intolerant…or vegan)
  9. Flour

I discovered this idea on another one of those, my children are hungry and I’ve mismanaged my dinner timing, nights. My brother in law had recently bought us a pressure cooker and it conveniently came with a little recipe book. Figuring that anything pressure cooker would save me time I leafed through it looking for a recipe I already had all the ingredients for. This delicious clam chowder was the winner. It calls for a dash of cayenne and fresh thyme where as this one calls for sugar, corn starch, celery and chives. So as always adjust your pantry list accordingly.


Pantry Must Haves
  1. Yellow Cornmeal
  2. Water
  3. Salt
  4. Butter

Ok so maybe I should have titled this post Pantry + Fridge Must Haves. Things like butter, milk and fresh herbs are making regular appearances in these recipes. So figure that you will need some basic refrigerated staples as well. That being said, I always have yellow cornmeal on hand and know that a basic polenta makes a fantastic hearty base for just about anything you want to throw on top of it and if you don’t have a fresh piece of salmon, or a chicken to roast then how about some mushrooms, chickpeas and olives like this delicious sounding recipes calls for?

Baked Artichokes

Baked Artichokes
Pantry Must Haves
  1. Canned Artichokes
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Lemon
  4. Anchovy Fillets
  5. Bread Crumbs
  6. Garlic
  7. Butter
  8. Parsley
  9. Parmesan
  10. Pepper

Ok this one I found because for some reason I have like ten cans of artichokes in my pantry. I have no idea why I bought them or what for,  but I decided to just search for a recipe I could use them in. I found this easy, delicious sounding one from Miss Rachael Ray, one of my all time favorite people by the way, and think it would be perfect accompanied by a crusty bread to spread it on and maybe that clam chowder I mentioned on the side.

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  • Monica

    Oh my goodness!!! In Italy, I grew up with polenta and I never thought it could be done at home!!! I swear, this is the best day ever. Thank you for sharing all of this! Off I go making polenta. Yummmmm. ❤️

    July 2, 2018 at 11:46 am Reply
  • Stephanie

    How wonderfully fantastic! Thanks for sharing. These recipes all sound really amazing. And what a pantry! (I now have an even stronger urge to get in my kitchen and finally get organized.) Thanks for all of the great ideas and inspiration! 🙂

    July 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm Reply
  • Ebony

    I’m always on the hunt for quick (1hr or less) meals to prepare that will appease our different taste. You quickly prepared all of my faves.

    Thanks you for sharing

    July 2, 2018 at 2:27 pm Reply
  • Laila

    Hello Katherine, I am pleased that at least two of the recipes you have proposed are of Italian origin … Thanks for the ideas … If I can suggest, a recipe with less ingredients but just as tasty (maybe just for you when you’re alone for work or for you and your husband) are the penne all’arrabbiata … Here there are no olives but the pepper must be really spicy !!!
    Of course you can also do it with spaghetti 😉

    Congratulations on your mega pantry …

    Good job

    Laila from southern Italy (Salento)

    July 2, 2018 at 3:19 pm Reply
  • Judy

    I love artichokes. Here is another great easy recipe: brown chicken (thighs, breasts, legs, whatever you want) in butter; add a can of chicken broth, can of artichoke (or two!) and its broth; a bay leaf; salt + pepper; simmer down to half the liquid. Remove bay leaf and eat up!

    July 2, 2018 at 7:39 pm Reply
  • Marcia

    Hi Katy! Happy summer! I love your pantry and the organization! I try to also rotate items to the front as I use them, 34 years in the grocery business leads you to check dates!!! I’m a real twit about it, so I throw out things that seem iffy!!!! Like you I like to have a handle on what’s already in the house, it’s not easy but I’m getting better as I HATE throwing things out too many needy people in the world to waste!!! Thank you for the recipes! I love Italian (minus the anchovies!) Have a sparkling Fourth of July

    July 3, 2018 at 1:28 pm Reply
  • Nancy Baldridge

    This is fun! I love knitting and was looking at blogs and all of a sudden there is one by my favorite actress. You are lots of fun and made me laugh.
    Nancy B.

    July 4, 2018 at 1:52 am Reply
  • Willie leask

    Wow Katherine what a pantry wish I had one sssssh don’t tell the wife she will want one but definitely going to give these recipes a try as I live in a little island north of Scotland called Shetland so we have a lot of fresh fish and seafood going to try your recipes with a little blend from Shetland thank you cheers to good yummy food you never know maybe my two year old daughter Thea won’t be fussy and enjoy it without it being on the floor

    July 7, 2018 at 7:16 pm Reply
  • Samantha Faller

    I too, am always trying to put together recipes from quick ingredients of just something new from what I have. I stumbled upon this website and it’s been a life changer. If ever I’m stuck for ideas, I go on here. Add all of the ingredients I have available for a meal and it automatically lists hundreds of meals / recipes. Including breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, soups and salads. I highly recommend checking it out! Xoxo

    August 9, 2018 at 8:31 am Reply
  • Bonnie

    A real must have is an electric pressure cooker. Many of the recipes you list can be converted and take alot less time, and clean up. I use mine almost everday. Many sites available with instructions and recipes.
    Take care Katherine, sounds like you’re really enjoying your stay in Canada.

    August 27, 2018 at 7:29 pm Reply
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    Sweet Chai Of Mine

    Sweet Chai Of Mine

    Katherine Heigl enjoying a meal at Planta Restaurant

    Toronto Adventures: Planta Restaurant