Living Through a Quarantine :: A Pantry-Based Meal Plan

Throughout the world, people are finding themselves quarantined due to sickness or government imposed shelter in place orders due to the coronavirus. This means we have a lot of people with limited access to food trying to figure out the best things to buy and cook that use minimal ingredients, take minimal time, yet are still healthy and kid-approved. The best way to be prepared is to choose a handful of simple recipes and stock up on the ingredients they require so that if you end up in a quarantine situation, you are fully prepared.

For the purpose of this post, I’m going to define a pantry meal as a meal that mostly consists of items that can be stored all room temperature in the pantry, with the addition of just a few fresh or frozen ingredients including eggs, meat, cheese or vegetables.

Here are some of the things my family has planned for and stocked up on just in case we end up quarantined (and a few of my other pantry favorite recipes)


Bagel and cream cheese
Cereal and milk
Granola Bars: Here is my favorite no-cook Peanut Butter Granola Bar recipe.
Yogurt, granola and some fresh or frozen fruit: You can use store-bought granola or try my favorite recipe for this Coconut Chocolate Granola.
Muffins: You can use a mix or try one of our favorites including Apple Sauce Muffins, Banana Bread Muffins or Pumpkin Oat Muffins.
Smoothies: Using frozen fruit combined with milk or juice.
Bacon or Turkey Bacon: Both of these can easily be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. You can even find shelf stable bacon that is already cooked and doesn’t need to be chilled to save fridge space, although bacon really doesn’t take up much room.
Sausage or Turkey Sausage: Both of these can either be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Toast: Top with jelly, mashed avocado, peanut butter or spread with butter and sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar.
Oatmeal: You can make a bowl from packets or rolled oats or try my favorite Blueberry Baked Oatmeal or Slow Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal.


We are planning to have one of the items below with a fruit for lunch everyday starting off with a variety of fresh fruits, but we have applesauce, raisins, frozen fruit and mandarin orange packets on hand for when the fresh fruit runs out.

Grilled cheese: Lately I discovered something that makes these so easy for a crowd: my kids like grilled cheese just as much baked as cooked in a pan. I throw the sandwiches in the oven for 5 minutes, flip, cook another 5 minutes and serve. I think I could make 20 or more at a time doing this, which sure is nice and easy when feeding a bigger family. Add some canned or homemade Tomato Soup and this makes for a great dinner also.
Ham or turkey sandwiches
Homemade Lunchables: Store-bought Lunchables are expensive and take up a lot of valuable fridge space with their packaging so we make our own with crackers, cheese slices and pepperoni or lunch meat.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Chicken, tuna or egg salad sandwiches or salads: I don’t tend to love canned meats and will make these with fresh whenever possible, but in the event of a quarantine in which we couldn’t leave our homes for a month some canned chicken and tuna are easy store and whip up.
Pita pizzas: Sauce can be stored in the pantry, along with pita bread, then the cheese and pepperoni can be stored in the fridge. Or all ingredients can be saved in the freezer to preserve them for a longer period of time. Pro tip: I like to save leftover unused marinara sauce in my freezer and thaw it out when I want to make pizzas.
Hot dog or sausages: These can be stored in the fridge or freezer, depending on where you have more room.
Curried Tofu Salad: Tofu has a fairly long refrigerator shelf-life and is a good source of protein making it a great ingredient for pantry meals.
Chickpea Salad: Canned chickpeas and a few longer lasting vegetables (which can also be left out) become a hearty salad on its own, or to serve over greens.
Hummus with crackers or vegetables


I’m planning to serve a different vegetable and pantry side (I’m looking at you rice, pasta and potatoes) with dinner each night, utilizing the fresh vegetables first, and then turning to frozen vegetables once the fresh have run out.

Linguine with Clam Sauce: with the bulk of this meal being canned clams and dried pasta this meal is easy to keep ingredients on hand.
Fried Rice: Have rice leftover from dinner last night? Mix it up with some soy sauce, a bag of frozen vegetables and some eggs or leftover meat from another meal.
Red Beans and Rice: Whether you use canned bean or dried, the rice and beans are pantry items you can mix with a few dried seasonings and even add sausage from your fridge or freezer if you have it around.
Breakfast for dinner: Bacon and sausage both last a while in the fridge, can be easily frozen, and don’t take up much space. Serve them with toast, muffins, or pancakes for a meal everyone will enjoy.
Sausages or hot dogs on buns: Sausages and hot dogs are inexpensive, last for a while, and can be easily frozen to have on hand for extended periods. Keep a pack of sausage in the freezer with a pack of buns and you have an easy meal that can be ready in a moments notice.
Snack Platter: We do this at least once a month in our house. I keep the pantry stocked with jam, olives, pickles, crackers, nuts and dried fruit and try to have at least one cheese and meat on hand at any point to whip up this easy meal.
White Chicken Chili: This is made from mostly pantry ingredients including broth, chiles, corn and beans. In a pinch you could even use dried cilantro and bottled lime juice if you are low on fresh stuff.
Black Bean, Rice (or Quinoa) and Corn: If you have leftover cooked chicken around, you can add it to the mix, but the quinoa and black beans add some protein in case you are low on meat.
Green Chile Chicken Casserole: All you need is some cooked chicken in the fridge or freezer, tortillas in pantry or freezer and a few canned items to make this hearty meal.
Tuna Casserole: A few cans of tuna mixed with a few pantry ingredients become an easy dinner.
Mac and Cheese with Bacon: Bacon is an easy protein to store because it lasts a while, can be frozen and doesn’t take up much space. You can even take a pantry short cut and used already cooked and crumbled bacon straight off of a shelf.
Dragon Noodles: Aside from the meat, this recipe is entirely pantry ingredients. You can substitute ground beef, chicken or turkey for the pork based on what you have in your fridge or freezer.
Chipotle Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili: If you have meat on hand, you can throw it in here and feel free to eliminate the bell peppers if you don’t have them on hand.
White Bean and Artichoke Salad: The main ingredients are canned white beans and artichokes tossed in some pantry staples, eliminate the fresh vegetables if you don’t have them around.
Lentil Stew: With a base of crushed tomatoes and dried lentils this filling, protein back stew is great alone, or over rice.
Parmesan Tilapia: You can use any freezer-friendly white fish for this recipe.
Salmon Croquettes: The only essential items in this recipe are the canned salmon, egg and bread crumbs, making it an ideal pantry meal.
Bouchons Au Thon: Canned tuna is the main ingredient here and you can use pretty much any cheese you have on hand. I also tend to substitute sour cream or mayo for the creme fraiche based on what I have around.
Crab Cakes: Whether you use canned, refrigerated or frozen crab meat the vegetables can easily be skipped in this recipe making it mostly a pantry meal.
Sweet Chili Salmon: A simple pantry sauce combined with some frozen salmon and you have dinner. This same sauce also works great on chicken or pork, with a much longer cook time.
California Roll Bowl: Krab (imitation crab) has a long refrigerator shelf-life making it an easy ingredient to stock up on and serve with some pantry rice and seaweed strips.
Spinach Artichoke Soup: To make this more pantry-friendly you can use a bag of frozen spinach in place of the fresh.
Chicken, Kale and White Bean Soup: To make this more pantry-friendly you can substitute frozen kale for the fresh.
White Bean Soup: Made mostly from pantry white beans, you can bulk up this soup with some ham or prosciutto if you have it on hand.
Black Bean Soup: This soup is hearty and filling, made with dried beans, but canned beans can be substituted. Feel free to leave out the bell peppers if you don’t have them.
Picadillo: Ground beef is combined with pantry spices, crushed tomatoes and olives and served over rice for this simple, yet flavorful dinner.
Bolognese Sauce: Meat, canned tomatoes and pantry spices become a hearty meal when served over pantry pasta.
Taco Meat: Ground meat, tomato sauce and spices are all it takes for this crowd pleaser.
Minestrone Soup: This soup is the perfect base to use up any fresh vegetables that are expiring or whatever vegetables are lying around in your freezer.
Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken: This simple chicken can be served in tortillas, on nachos or over rice.
Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken: Chicken breasts and a few pantry ingredients become a delicious dinner over rice.
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken: Chicken breasts, BBQ sauce and a slow cooker result in a pulled chicken that is great on a bun or served in a sweet potato.
Chicken Tortilla Soup: Made up of mostly canned ingredients combined with chicken breasts this soup comes together effortlessly.
Chana Masala: Canned chickpeas, tomatoes and pantry spices result in this extraordinary flavorful Indian classic.
Sesame Noodles: This makes a great side dish, made almost entirely from pantry ingredients.
Bean Burritos: with these quick homemade Refried Black Beans tossed in a tortilla with some cheese
Korean Beef: As long as you have some ground meat you can whip up this simple pantry sauce and serve it over rice.
Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin: Pork tenderloins freeze well and have a long refrigerator life making them ideal for pantry meals. Here the pork is served with a simple pantry sauce.
Hamburgers on buns: Whether you have fresh or frozen beef or turkey and fresh or frozen buns you can make this easy dinner with hardly any extra ingredients.


Muffins: You can use a mix or try one of our favorites including Apple Sauce Muffins, Banana Bread Muffins or Pumpkin Oat Muffins.
Smoothies: Using frozen fruit combined with milk or juice.
Fruit: fresh, canned, dried, pouches
Cheese sticks or slices
Hummus with crackers or vegetables
Granola Bars: Here is my favorite no-cook Peanut Butter Granola Bar recipe.
Energy Balls: Since these delicious bites are made entirely out of pantry items I always keep them on hand so I can whip these up anytime a sweet craving strikes.
Roasted Chickpeas: Canned chickpeas, oil and some spices become a protein filled, healthy pantry snack.

Shannon Mangerchine
Shannon lives in Central City, New Orleans with her husband, Jeremy, and three sons, Noah, Eli and Zeke. She left a career in Human Resources to take on her dream of being a stay-at-home mom. During this time, she and her husband founded a non-profit called Bastion Resources with the purpose of inspiring others to live a life of intimacy with God. Shannon is passionate about creating community and engaging in meaningful conversation around the dinner table. Recently, she created The Intentional Daily Journal to help people live with more purpose and clarity, which is available for purchase on Amazon. In her free time, Shannon enjoys all types of fitness, trying new restaurants, reading and discussing books with her book club, coffee dates with friends and hanging at the park with her family. Shannon is constantly creating new healthy recipes and sharing them on her blog Dinner Done by 9am.


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