meals/food cooked entirely from the pantry/freezer
September 21, 2020 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Looking for meals/dishes/recipes, especially vegetable-centric ones, that can be made entirely from shelf-stable or long-lasting ingredients rather than fresh.

I'm starting to develop some serious anxiety about the coming fall/winter, especially regarding this stupid pandemic, and want to limit the amount we have to leave the house, so I'm hoping to get in a couple big grocery store/Costco trips to stock up and then hunker down for a while. Looking for your favorite dishes that can be made entirely from some combination of canned ingredients, frozen food, pantry ingredients, and foods that will last quite a while in the fridge or on the counter (so for example garlic and onion would be fine, tofu lasts a decent time in the fridge, but something that requires, say, fresh parsley wouldn't work).

I don't eat beef and don't do well with hot/spicy foods, but I am interested in trying to expand my palate as far as spices. We already eat a lot of canned beans, though we typically just wind up adding some garlic and onion and using them in burritos. We have a chest freezer that's already pretty well stocked, mostly with chicken parts and pork loin.

Also interested in products that last a long time like the tortillas we get at Costco - they're uncooked and come in a big bag with two smaller packages inside that freeze well. We can take out one of the inner packages and let it thaw in the fridge, and eat our way through that bag (you cook them on the stovetop) before it goes bad. So products along those lines that I might not have thought of beyond the obvious canned/frozen/pantry foods.
posted by skycrashesdown to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend this recipe a lot: Curried Lentils & Sweet Potatoes. You could (and I have) absolutely do it without any of the fresh items other than the sweet potatoes and use frozen greens - I never use kale, I hate it, so I have used spinach or chard every single time.
posted by wellred at 11:11 AM on September 21 [2 favorites]

Most meat can be cooked from frozen; you just have to account for the extra time by cooking on lower heat.

Once you've browned ground beef, you can separate it into one-serving ziploc baggies and refreeze it. Then when you're ready to serve, you can just dump the frozen beef onto a plate and microwave it, and then you've got browned ground beef for your nachos or spaghetti or whatever.

I'm particularly fond of the longevity of Martin's Potato Rolls. In addition to tasting delicious, they seem to last forever without getting moldy like most bread. And they can be frozen to last even longer, although I personally don't like what the thawing process does to the texture.

For "fresh" herbs, buy a bunch and chop them up, then put them into an ice cube tray. Run just enough water to cover the herbs in the tray, then freeze. Once they're frozen, dump them into a bag and leave them in the freezer, then take them out an thaw them whenever you get a recipe that needs them.

Grated Parmesan cheese is supposed to be refrigerated, but from personal experience, if you leave it in a desk draw at your office for several months, there's no real difference in flavor, and no ill effects.

For spiciness, I personally prefer canned chili peppers to fresh ones. You can find canned chipotles in adobo that are easy to incorporate into dishes. Or just use hot sauce instead of actual chilis.

Canned soup, especially cream of mushroom, is kind of a classic way to mix ingredients together. An easy casserole is just to pour some soup over meat and a starch (tater tots!), maybe with some vegetables. And of course, those can be prepared in bulk and frozen themselves.

When lockdown first started back in March, we bought a lot of the meat we eat (chicken breast, ground beef, steak, and pork chops), a bunch of steamer bags of vegetables and rice, a bunch of various types of potatoes (instant, frozen, etc.), and some cheese. Along with the copious condiments we already had on hand, that's enough to provide quite a bit of variety for a long time.

ETA: Sorry, missed the part about not eating beef. If you eat other ground meat, turkey or pork or whatever, the same advice applies.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:15 AM on September 21

Check out Tin Can Cook by Jack Monroe.
You may need a metric converter, as she's English. She's also vegetarian.
posted by Enid Lareg at 11:29 AM on September 21 [7 favorites]

This might be too simple but I do pasta salad from pantry staples. Box of pasta, can of diced tomatoes, can of beans, can of olives. I’ve thrown in a can of green beans as well to up the fiber, also artichoke hearts.
posted by lepus at 11:34 AM on September 21 [7 favorites]

Here's my pantry salad!

One 16oz can black beans (drained & rinsed) (or use 1 1/2 cups of cooked-from-dry black beans)
One 16oz can drained chopped canned tomatoes (or canned whole tomatoes and chop them)
1 1/2 cups defrosted frozen corn
1 1/2 cups defrosted frozen edamame (or lima beans)

Combine with salad dressing of your choice. Add something crunchy if you've got it.
posted by mskyle at 11:36 AM on September 21 [4 favorites]

- 1 can each of black beans and corn, 1 jar salsa. Chill. Cilantro and some lime juice make it a lot better. You can mash cilantro in water or lime juice, freeze in a small ice cube tray, same with lime and/or parsley. Parsley does okay on a windowsill, and is worth having fresh in winter. Trader Joes sells frozen grated ginger.
- 3 bean salad - canned green beans, kidney beans, garbanzos, innaigrette
- Cook carrots in a pan with chicken broth and olive oil or butter, let the broth cook off, let them get really well done.
- Beans On Toast.
- Rice noodles with peanut sauce - add pickled jalapenos to liven this up a lot.
- Potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage last ages, sweet potatoes last well. All are great roasted or in stir fries with the chicken or pork. Winter squashes keep well in a cool dark spot, and I could live on roasted butternut squash. I often make stuffing using the ordinary butter(oil)/ broth/onion/celery, bag-o-stuffing recipe, add fried crumbled sausage and lots of roast squash, bake briefly.
- Curried squash soup - cook butternut squash. Make a roux with oil/butter and flour, toast it pretty well, add broth and whisk out lumps, add squash, curry spices to taste, use immersion blender. A dollop of yogurt is nice, not required.
- I get yellow split pea soup and add curry to it, lazy, tasty.

Eggs keep quite well.
Classico jarred pesto is not awful.
Dried mushrooms are quite good in risotto. I don't eat dairy, and use a lot of well-sauteed onion in risotto, with good chicken broth.
Canned crushed tomatoes - make chili, pasta sauce, lasagne, basis of many Indian sauces for meat or beans.
Canned stewed tomatoes - when I realize I need some vegetables, I warm up a can and I like it better than tomato soup.
Canned beets - pour off all but 1/3 cup of liquid, add 1/4 cup of cider vinegar. I like them on their own or in salad.
Carrots, parsnips, onions, make terrific quick pickles.
Apples last well. Apple cake or pie.
Baked potatoes or sweet potatoes. Roasted whole onion w/ olive oil, in foil.
In early Pandemic, I stocked up, then seldom went out. This is what I ate. I also made bread using 1 packet of yeast, saved bread dough, treated it as sourdough. I also make muffins a lot, adding combinations of canned pumpkin, dried apricots, walnuts. There were fewer fresh veg & fruit options in winter when I was a kid, so it's how we ate.
posted by theora55 at 11:36 AM on September 21 [3 favorites]

Cabbage is underrated. It's just as nutritious as greens like kale that have super-healthy reputations, and it keeps much longer. I like cabbage and onions fried up in butter, salt, and pepper on high heat so they brown a bit. Add white beans or egg noodles or both to bulk it out to a meal, or eat it on its own as a side.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:38 AM on September 21 [12 favorites]

We make this recipe with frozen rather than fresh spinach a lot and it's insane how good it is and how quickly it all comes together.
posted by saladin at 11:49 AM on September 21

I've been making a lot of veggie chili. It has canned beans, canned tomato sauce, and canned tomatoes. I use wheat berries instead of meat. I use frozen corn, but you can use canned for that too. I also freeze red bell peppers for it, but you can get roasted red bell peppers in jars. The only thing I haven't tried freezing is the onion. I think most chili recipes would be pretty easy to adjust for this. I make a lot of roasted chickpeas and throw those on top for crunch instead of crackers.

I don't like spicy foods either, but you can cut down on the hot stuff in any chili recipe.
posted by FencingGal at 11:51 AM on September 21 [3 favorites]

Back in March, I figured out some vegetable stuff that has served me well during the lockdown. I now keep the following long-lasting veggies in stock:
- Carrots
- Cabbage
- Scallions
- Celery
- Potatoes
- Onions & Garlic
- Frozen greens (kale or spinach), broccoli, corn, peas, and pesto
- Canned/jarred sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and crushed/diced tomatoes
- Dried mushrooms

Also: Mori-nu tofu comes in shelf-stable packaging! I now keep plenty in stock. I've seen it at my local natural foods grocery as well as in the international aisle of my larger grocery store. I think you can also order it online if necessary.

Carrots, cabbage, and scallions taste delicious together, raw or cooked, and last a much longer time than other fresh veggies. I've had carrots and cabbage last a month or two in the fridge, and scallions stay fresh (and grow new stalks) in a cup of water on the windowsill. From these, I'll make...
- Tortillas with filling of choice (even just a fried egg), topped with a slaw of grated carrots & thin-sliced cabbage tossed with a bit of lime juice & salt. Add (frozen) corn and/or beans to make it more filling.
- Fried rice with an egg, sliced carrots, a handful of shredded cabbage, and topped with a bunch of scallions. Add a handful of frozen peas a few minutes before it's done if you like.
- Lunch bowl with leftover rice, raw sliced carrots + cabbage + scallions, tofu, and a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil (hot sauce or chili crisp optional).

Carrots, celery, and onions last a very long time and make the base of a lot of soups. Note that you can also get these frozen as a soup stock mix. For instance:
- Chicken soup can be made with just carrots, celery, onions, chicken, spices, and noodles or rice. Add a can of white or garbanzo beans or some small-dice potatoes if you want it a bit more filling. Use stock (or something like Better than Bouillon) for a richer flavor.
- This red lentil dal is quite hearty (thanks to the coconut milk) and frozen kale works just fine. You can also substitute garam masala or some other curry spice mix for all the spices to minimize fuss.
- This lentil soup with sausage, chard, and garlic also works just fine with frozen kale or spinach. You can omit the sausage and still have a plenty good soup, or you could sub in chicken or pork.
- Massaman curry and Japanese curries (the kind that come in a brick) are very mild, and generally just use potatoes, carrots, and onions as veggies -- all of which keep very well. Omit the red curry if from the Massaman recipe if you don't want any spice at all. You can also add canned mushrooms, canned bamboo shoots, and/or canned baby corn if you'd like some more shelf-stable vegetables.

Pesto freezes really well and it's delicious. I now eat a meal of pesto + pasta + chicken + some frozen kale or spinach every week or so.

Budget Bytes is a good source for simple recipes that generally don't demand a lot of fussy ingredients. Here are some that might work for you; there are lots more in the archives.
- One-pot lemon artichoke chicken with rice (uses canned artichoke hearts)
- Creamy pasta with chicken and (frozen) broccoli
posted by ourobouros at 11:51 AM on September 21 [7 favorites]

I cook a lot with kimchi and other fermented foods, especially in soups. Even opened, kimchi can keep for a while in the fridge and not go bad. The hitch is that the fridge....will smell like kimchi.

If spice/heat is an issue, look for 'baek' or white kimchi - it's Napa cabbage kimchi, but without the gochugaru powder that makes it hot. Lots of kimchi is made with fish, but there is vegetarian kimchi that can be found. I enjoy cooking a chicken vegetable soup, with kimchi as one of the vegetables. A little can go a looooong way, too.

I'm also stocking up for the Fall/Winter, and I bought lots of kimchi yesterday.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:58 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]

Baked orzo puttanesca is a great one. I make it without the fresh basil, with one can of tuna and without the preserved lemon and it's still really good and rich. You can vary the pasta - I usually make it with gnocchi.

Classico jarred pesto is not awful.

A recipe I make a lot:
Poach some thawed chicken pieces with salt, a couple of tablespoons of chopped garlic and a 1/2 tsp or so of crushed red pepper flakes. (Look up poaching instructions online, but what I generally do is bring the water to a boil over medium heat then turn off and cover for eight to ten minutes. I check to make sure the chicken is done then remove it from the water.)

Cook quinoa in the poaching liquid - measure first to make sure you have the right amount of liquid.

Meanwhile saute onions and whatever thawed frozen vegetables you would like to use. Shred chicken and add. Add quinoa when it's done and finish with more olive oil (if needed) plus cumin and other seasonings as desired.

You can also make quinoa without the chicken and just add beans at the end, but when I do that I usually mix up the juice of half a lemon, a little chili powder and a couple of tsp of olive oil as a dressing.

Frozen greens - chop and saute some onion on relatively high heat until it starts to brown. Meanwhile, thaw some greens in the microwave. Saute them briefly with the browned onion, add salt, pepper and other seasonings as desired. This is surprisingly good.

Mixed frozen vegetables: You can microwave, eg, frozen peas and frozen cauliflower together for more variety. Microwave, stir, microwave, let sit a bit, stir in a little butter and seasonings.

Things I like to have in bulk that you have not yet mentioned:

Grains like farro, wheatberries, millet
Tomato paste
Red lentils
Yellow lentils

Curry paste - you can get ~12oz tubs by mail. Thai Kitchen isn't very hot; actual imported ones can be kind of hot.
Tomato "pesto" in a jar, good for a quick pasta or pizza topping

Dried figs and dried apricots - high fiber and relatively low sugar as dried fruit goes, good for an extra serving of fruit
baked chickpeas - high fiber healthy snack

Better Than Bouillon in multiple flavors
Cheap white wine for adding to soups, risottos, sauces. You can keep an open bottle in the fridge indefinitely as long as you're going to cook with it, or you can freeze it into wine slush and just spoon it into the pan.

Coconut milk - if you don't use the whole can in a recipe, freeze the rest in an ice cube tray

You can buy, chop and freeze your own bell peppers - they freeze really well and are great for dropping into a stir fry, pasta sauce or soup
Frozen peas are a real staple around here - we try to have legumes of some kind every day.
Frozen mustard greens - peppery, great mixed with frozen spinach as a side or a filling.
Frozen mini italian meatballs - thaw three or four and chop, add to sauce, pilaf, risotto, etc.
posted by Frowner at 12:33 PM on September 21 [3 favorites]

- Eggs and bacon are not shelf-stable but both last a looooooooooong time in the fridge (and bacon can be frozen, of course) and thus you can make a delicious and very comforting pasta carbonara.

- Chicken adobo is an amazing dish using things like vinegar and soy sauce (almost all shelf-stable).

- Apparently you can roast frozen veggies though I've never tried it. But roasted veggies are so good in the wintertime. Alternately, you can roast them now and store them - I bought a bunch of Hatch green chiles (which are only available in late August/September), roasted, and froze them. I can't wait to pull them out and make enchiladas in the middle of winter.
posted by lunasol at 12:48 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

This chili recipe -- sub out the fresh peppers for frozen/canned, and get pre-diced jarred garlic, and you should be good. Do not skip on the bulgur wheat OR the balsamic, they are key.

Also this recipe freezes GREAT -- make a batch, portion out into Ziplocs/whatever, have perfect chili ready to go.

re: spiciness: the heat in this recipe comes from the jalapenos and whatever chili powder you use. Very easy to scale as needed; you could drop the jalapaneos entirely if desired.
posted by curious nu at 12:52 PM on September 21

The "Kitchens of India" brand bagged curries last forever in the cabinet. Add a cup of rice, and you've got a meal. The ones I've tried are not spicy.

My childhood favorite was Zatarain's Spanish Rice, a can of diced tomatoes, and frozen imitation crab sauteed in butter. I keep a kit in the kitchen for when I'm feeling lazy and or nostalgic.

(Also, finding a local grocery store that takes covid very seriously and has fresh vegetables has made my life far better in the last four months. In my case, it's a Korean-themed place. I feel more comfortable shopping there than I do walking on the sidewalk.)
posted by eotvos at 12:59 PM on September 21

I developed a few of this sort this year for my blog. From least to most elaborate:
White Beans with Lemon & Bay
A Midsummer Night's Beans (with jarred RRP and cherry or grape tomatoes)
Tomato Dal Mix in a Jar
Orange Ginger Coconut Black-Eyed Peas with Five Spice
posted by jocelmeow at 1:20 PM on September 21

The de rigeur "Instant Pot Butter Chicken" has been great for me for this purpose. Canned coconut milk (drain the water, just use the thick bit) subs for the cream and the cilantro has felt optional to me recently. I just processed a ton of ginger to keep in one-tbsp portions in the freezer. The chicken helps with flavor but you could easily drain the tomatoes and replace with chicken broth (ideally bulked up with some gelatin) for the same effect. For the "second meal" (or for the first tbh) I love using sweet potatoes or cauliflower as the main component-- you end up with twice as much sauce as you need for the amount of chicken that goes in.
posted by supercres at 1:37 PM on September 21 [2 favorites]

Super tip on ginger, if you freeze it whole. it's pretty easy to grate off what you need with a microplane grater.
posted by advicepig at 2:00 PM on September 21 [6 favorites]

For freezer-and-pantry Mexican food, you need some source of chiles. If you can get dried red Mexican chiles like anchos or guajillos where you are, those are perfect. Those plus onions and garlic make the chile paste that's the basis for plain enchiladas, a bunch of soups and stews, etc. Otherwise, canned chipotles en adobo are really easy to find now and you can get a lot of mileage out of them, though in some recipes they come out tasting smokier than is traditional.

Either way, chiles, onions, garlic, canned whole tomatoes, rice, beans, and a few spices get you a long way. Cheese is good if you're going for Texas/California/Northern Mexico and nice but actually kind of optional if you're going for points south. Brand name packaged tortillas keep bizarrely long in the fridge these days. You can add fresh veg and meat if you have them, or do without if you don't.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:28 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

Sometimes, I either snow in or my driveway is blocked by fallen trees, so I have to wait till someone comes in to "save" me. I don't really need saving before spring because my pantry is like a general store in an old time village. So first I'll try to list most of the items in the pantry, for your shopping list. Scroll down if you want recipes only.
I've only put in a few recipes, since IMO, this is more about having the well-stocked pantry. From that you can improvise from day to day, or you can do a weekly meal plan. Both ways you can search the internet for inspiration by writing ingredients into your search bar. But it's a bummer if you are stuck without access to stores and all you have is a tin of spam and a bag of Uncle Ben Rice.

I have a couple or three different types of rice and many different types of pasta/noodles. I really love Italian food, but sometimes I crave soba noodles or ramen or rice vermicelli, so I have it all, as well as rice wrappers. And couscous. I also have Swedish and Finnish and Italian forms of crisp bread. I told you it was like a general store.

I have different flours and yeast and I bake my own bread. Haven't done the sourdough thing yet. Bread freezes well. I slice sandwich breads before I freeze them, then you can just put as much as you want directly in the toaster. So if you aren't going to bake, just freeze what you buy. I have oats and müsli and sometimes I eat a lot of them, and sometimes I have to throw them away because they don't keep well.

I have tins of tomatoes and tomato paste, of beans, of sweet corn and of lentils and fish, mostly tuna but also codfish roe, sardines and anchovies, actually quite a lot of anchovies. Also several small jars of capers and of olives. There are probably also a couple of tins of paté in there.

There are several forms of oil and condiments, some of the condiments go in the fridge.
For flavoring, there are different forms of sugar, salt and pepper, stock-cubes, all the dried herbs and spices, dried seaweed, dried mushrooms, dried fish flakes. Dried fruit, nuts and seeds, sirup and honey.

On the counter are onions, garlic and apples. I try to have some herbs in pots too, but it is often hard to keep them growing through the winter.

In the fridge, there are potatoes, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, sometimes leeks, always citrus fruits and ginger, as well as yogurt, which keeps very well before opening. And mayo. I prefer buying several small jars to one big one, because it keeps better when the jar isn't open for ages.
There are also a lot of preserves, both sweet, like jellies and jams, and savory, like pickles. I'm not a fan of bell peppers, but if you like them, they keep fairly well, and preserved peppers are even better. I'd definitely get some sun-dried tomatoes in oil in your situation, too. And cheeses and butter of course. You can freeze some butter, too. I like having a good whole piece of bacon or a salami, not just for eating as is, but also for adding flavor to a soup or stew. Eggs last a month or more. Be sure that they are very fresh when you buy them.

In the freezer, apart from bread and butter, there are peas, string beans, spinach and different fish and shellfish. There are also homemade stocks, store bought stocks, and scraps of bones and vegs to use for stock, all clearly marked with the date they were frozen. I'm not a huge fan of frozen meat. If I eat frozen meat, I prefer whole pieces on the bone to mince or cubes, but today we thawed a bag of cubed turkey meat someone else had put in the freezer and it was just fine. We made a butter "chicken".
Speaking of things other people put in my freezer that were surprisingly good, I enjoyed some store bought organic falafels one of my cousins had left there so much that I actually put some pita breads in the freezer, for a day when I crave some street food. I think they will go well with a yogurt-based dressing and some slaw made of cabbage and carrots, and a little hot sauce on top.
If you have a lot of room in your freezer, you can freeze milk and cream and pasteurized eggs for making sauces with. Frozen dairy works fine when cooked, not so much raw, IMO. Also herbs, if the windowsill won't provide enough.


I just learnt a new one: Sicilian Pasta With Anchovies and Toasted Breadcrumbs
Spaghetti Puttanesca
Spaghetti With Carbonara Sauce
Sesame soba noodles This one is sprinkled with fresh herbs. If you have some in a pot, its great, otherwise its fine without.
Ramen soup Not very authentic, but yummy.
Risotto alla Milanese, and all the other risottos. Dried mushrooms work very well in risotto, as do frozen peas.
Easy paella Another not authentic but delicious recipe. I think it would be good without the shellfish, too, and I wouldn't mind using preserved peppers instead of fresh.
Tortilla Española
Minestrone This recipe uses celery, I might use celeriac because it keeps better, though celery keeps well, too. I might also add some bacon.
A Morrocan stew with all the vegetables, a bit of chicken or lamb or both, and some chickpeas, served with couscous. This is the authentic recipe, you can tone it down a lot and still have a great meal, with leftovers.
Spanakopita Use frozen parsley, the recipe already recommends frozen spinach.
Saag paneer and spinach frittata are better with frozen spinach too.
Coq au riesling - I never use mushrooms in this and I think it is an inauthentic spill-over from the more famous red-wine recipe. I do use carrots.
Rustic Chicken Stew Again, it will be fine enough without the fresh herbs.

Also, think about pizza variations. They are great pantry food. I think my favorite pizza is just with potatoes. (There are anchovies in the recipe, but she says you don't need them and she is right).

A hash of potatoes and onions with a fried egg on top and all the condiments you like can be a very fine meal. Chives from your windowsill will make it prettier and give a bit of an edge.

A simple lentil stew is always a good thing. It can be an Indian dal, or a French stew based on Puy lentils.

With your roast pork loin, a salad based on cabbage slaw and Puy lentils is a nice crunchy contrast.

When I was younger, I would do the batch cooking and freezing. If that is for you, maybe make a stew/sauce that you can use for lasagna, pasta sauce and "shepherd's" pie (probably more gardener's pie). We make ours like a bolognese, but use aubergine instead of meat. We chop the aubergine into very small dice, and otherwise cook them exactly as one would with the meat. For a gardener's pie, brown or black lentils instead of meat are good too.
posted by mumimor at 3:19 PM on September 21 [10 favorites]

While fresh herbs and spices are nice, science is a heck of a thing and there are VERY few that aren't perfectly palatable dried, so don't let that stop you. I microwave dry cilantro, parsley, shiso, dill, chives, basil, but obviously you can buy all those dried on the shelves or online too. I freeze green onions and diced onions/shallots, ginger, turmeric, garlic. You can get a lot of alliums freeze-dried, as well, by mail order. Will you perfectly replicate the zing of tableside-made salsa if you use canned tomatoes, dried cilantro, and freeze-dried onions? No. Will it be at least as delicious as a decent-grade deli cold case salsa? YES. For all but very precious applications, it does not really matter, you can continue on with a recipe.

For this kind of pantry cooking, I think casseroles and one-pot meals. When I'm assembling camping food for a crowd I often look to large cans of green beans where I might generally use fresh zucchini or broccoli at home. You can make bechamel with coconut, evaporated, or reconstituted dried milk (or cream or half and half from powdered cream and milk), tomato sauce from canned tomatoes or just a jar/can of pasta sauce. You've got the makings of all kinds of pasta bakes/lasagnas there, or creamy rice casseroles.

One of my Kitchen Duct Tape items is potato flakes, the unflavored kind. Literally just dehydrated potato, it's a great thickener/creamer for soups, fluff or breading for fritters and patties and croquets, and actual mashed potato in a pinch.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:03 PM on September 21 [2 favorites]

5 minute recipes:
Variation on the pantry salad: canned tuna, corn or chickpeas, olives, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt. Optional diced onion, any greens, tomatoes.

Dal: 3/4 chana dal to 1/4 red lentils, add garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, ground cumin, and onion/garlic/ginger combo in whatever form you have, fresh, frozen, or powder. Boil until you’re happy with the consistency.

Croque Monsieur: while frozen toast slices are being toasted, warm up (frozen) cheese in microwave, thaw ham slices if need be, once toast done, scrape on melted cheese, spread ketchup on second slice, ham in between, done. Optional: serve with pickles.

Risi pisi soup: pour boiling water over frozen peas with salt, let sit for a minute. Add peas and bouillon (cube or liquid concentrate) to rice (boiled, can be cold), pour boiling water over everything, done.

Vegetable soup: boil any frozen vegetables to death, toss most of the water, blend, add creme fraiche or canned coconut milk, salt, pepper, herbs.
posted by meijusa at 8:25 AM on September 22

We like this Black-eyed Pea Chili with Quinoa and Corn. We make a half recipe which is 6 servings.

The recipe calls for dried black-eyed peas and simmering for 75 minutes to cook the peas. We used 2 cans of black-eyed peas and simmered for 10-15 minutes at that step. It also calls for onion and bell peppers (red and green). You could use frozen pepper and onion combinations like the one here. You could use canned corn, or omit the corn entirely.

Since the frozen food cases are pretty empty, at least around here, I got to wondering about getting onions and peppers canned. With a little searching, I found a combo in restaurant sizes. Roasted red peppers, and the nearly indistinguishable pimento are easy to find. Canned green peppers are almost all chilis. I did find small white onions in bottles. Also onion relish which might make a good substitute.
posted by SemiSalt at 9:28 AM on September 22

"Stew" with entirely canned ingredients (and milk)

2-3 lbs frozen ground beef
2 cans campbell's tomato soup
1 can each potatoes, peas, and corn
2 cans green beans

Other meats would be fine, might require different soup or vegetables.

Brown the ground beef with dried basil and onion flakes in a huge saucepan. Mix the tomato soup and milk directly into the pan. Add vegetables, including the water from the potatoes and possibly peas. Cook everything for about 20 minutes. Eat with rice.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 5:40 PM on September 23

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