Nutrition Series: Pantry Recipe Ideas

We will be posting a short series of posts with helpful nutrition tips and videos. Thank you to our nutrition students at JMU for these great resources!

Sometimes we have to be creative when we are making food! You have to work with what you have on hand. Having some staples around will make it easier to put together meals in a pinch. Items like pasta, canned tomatoes, canned vegetables, beans, instant potatoes, evaporated milk, broth, and grits can all be turned into a filling meal.

Pasta noodles are easy, you can throw a can of tomatoes or a slab of butter on them and they are filling. If you have a can of green beans or spinach you could add those for a little extra flavor and nutrients.

Rice and any kind of beans always go well together. Canned corn, peas, carrots, or tomatoes can be added flavor. Corn grits picked up from the pantry can be cooked with water or milk. Add a pinch of salt, pepper or hot sauce for extra flavor for a warm meal. Peas, green beans, tomatoes, corn and hot dogs can mixed in! Be creative but make sure it’ll taste all right so that it will all be eaten and none will go to waste.

Tuna Casserole

  •      2-6oz cans tuna (drained)
  •      2-10.5 oz cans of cream of mushroom
  •      1 can peas or carrots (or both)
  •      Noodles

Optional additions:

  •      Onion
  •      Celery
  •      Cheese

Boil noodles as directed on package, if using onions or celery, add them to the noodles for the last 2 minutes. Drain noodles. Stir in tuna, soup, and vegetables. Stir until blended.  Bring back up to temperature on stovetop. Optional, add cheese.

Easy Rice and Beans

  •    1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  •    1 cup uncooked (non-instant) white or brown rice
  •    1 cup water
  •    1 1/2 cups cooked beans or 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  •    1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  •    3/4 cup canned corn (drained)


  •   1 small red onion, chopped
  •   2 garlic cloves, minced
  •   1 teaspoon cumin
  •   1 teaspoon oregano
  •   Any other vegetables you may like: carrots, green beans, squash

In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the oil and garlic and cook until soft, about four minutes.

Add the rice and cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly, so as not to burn.

Add the water, spices and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is done.  Add beans and corn or other canned vegetables.

Another option is to add ground beef, sausage or serve over scrambled eggs.