Eating down the pantry to save money.

Canned potatoes? Sounds gourmet, right?

Hey, don’t knock ’em until you’ve fried them in a skillet with some oil and spices. Delish.

So we’re not exactly living a Pinterest-worthy lifestyle at the moment, but we are managing to get by during a slow season for work. While Dan and I are looking for full-time gigs, we are doing jobs here and there to help get us through the lean months.

Which means less Costco splurges (you can easily drop $200 there and not even notice), and more planning meals with sale/clearance items from the local grocery store or food pantry.

costco
My first time in a Costco was like a grocery wonderland. I couldn’t believe how big everything was!

Another friend of mine had dropped by recently with a nice care package from her church – bags filled with canned and dry goods, which are pantry essentials. I’ll be sure to use up every last item and not let one thing go to waste. I’m so thankful for the people in my life that will come help us when times get a bit tough.

Rummaging through the bags, I felt a bit of nostalgia as I picked out a few cans of mixed vegetables, canned potatoes, and canned fruits like pears and peaches. We used to have cans of peas and green beans lying around the family home in Maumee to toss in with pasta and soups. Some days, I would just eat them out of the can or heat them up in a bowl with some butter, salt, and pepper. It was something quick and easy for me to eat.

Today I would like to share some recipes that are cheap and easy to make, and some that I grew up with. They may not be fancy or look like much, but they helped us use up every last thing we had in the house, and we ate pretty well. Most of these things we had in our pantry.

And we were either lazy or had other things to do, so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time cooking. These could be made in just under a half an hour most of the time.

Rough Day Spaghetti

This was a treat for us when we had ground beef to use. It was one of my family’s favorite dinners.

  • 1-2 cans spaghetti sauce/Ragu/diced tomatoes
    • whatever tomato-based product you have can work when made into a sauce
  • 1 small box of spaghetti/pasta
    • if we didn’t have spaghetti, we used elbow macaroni
  • 1/2-1 lb ground beef (whatever you have is fine)

Fill large pasta pot with water and heat on high until boiling. Meanwhile, brown ground beef on medium-high heat in a small saucepot. Drain grease (NOT IN SINK!), then return to saucepan. Dump spaghetti sauce into saucepan and heat on medium-high heat until simmering, about 8 minutes.

Once the water in pasta pot is boiling, cook pasta in water according to the box instructions or until al dente (firm bite), about 6-8 minutes. Drain pasta.

Now you can either serve the pasta and the sauce separately or do what we did and just dump the sauce with the pasta together and just go from there.

Pantry Soup

This is basically what it sounds like. Use any canned veggies you have on hand. Tomato juice on its own or from canned tomatoes would act as the broth to the soup.

  • Any canned veggies (I like to used mixed veggies, canned potatoes, and canned tomatoes)
  • 1 16 oz can tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can chicken or ham, drained (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste or favorite seasonings (I like cumin and taco seasoning)
  • Saltine crackers or bread (optional)

Drain canned veggies and put into a pot or microwaveable bowl. Add canned tomatoes and preferred spices. Drain and add canned meat. Heat on high heat until simmering, about 8 to 10 minutes, or microwave until hot, about 4-5 minutes.

Serve with crackers or bread that would otherwise hit the bin in a few days. Great way to use up leftovers.

Pantry Chili

Okay, this one probably takes the most patience. This has to simmer for about a half an hour at least, but it makes fantastic leftovers. It is probably the most involved recipe on this list.

  • 2-3 16 oz cans of beans of choice, drained and rinsed (kidney, black, pinto – whatever you like or have on hand)
  • 1 29 oz can tomatoes, undrained. Or 2 16 oz cans will do.
  • 1 16 oz can corn, drained (optional)
  • Chili powder to taste or 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup water (leave out if you like thick chili)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of cumin (optional)

Throw all ingredients in a pot and put on high heat until boiling. Once boiling, turn down heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 minutes. You can serve this with crackers, bread, or cheese and sour cream if you happen to have those on hand.

Just Woke Up Egg Sandwich

Okay, this doesn’t involve canned food, but it’s a good and quick recipe. Eggs are cheap. Bread is cheap. So are American cheese slices. My mom would make a simple breakfast sammie out of these ingredients. Good for when you need to make something for breakfast and then run out the door with it.

  • 1-2 eggs
  • Dash of milk (optional)
  • 1-2 slices bread
  • 1 slice American processed cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Scramble eggs with milk with salt and pepper in a skillet over medium-high heat. Avoid breaking the egg up into tiny pieces as it cooks in the skillet (use butter or cooking spray to prevent sticking, or use a non-stick pan).

Once the bottom of the eggs has firmed up, use a spatula to turn the eggs over to cook the other side. Think of it as if you are making a pancake, but with eggs.

While the eggs are cooking, throw some bread of your choice into the toaster to the desired toastiness level. When the eggs are no longer wet and are nice and firm, take the egg pancake and throw it immediately on the toast with the cheese slice.

The cheese will melt into the egg and you can wrap it up to go or just eat it once done. Simple and tasty.


Sorry about the lack of pictures this time around, I’ll upload some and edit this post when I actually make this stuff instead of just stealing images from Google!

I don’t usually write recipes, so hopefully, some of this makes sense. Like I said, these aren’t gonna be perfect recipes, but serve as great rough guidelines when scouring the pantry to find something to whip up for dinner.

What are some recipes growing up that you loved? I would love to try them! Feel free to share with me in the comments below!

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