Inexpensive recipes to make with pantry and freezer staples

Wait what?

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably said those words at the grocery store checkout lately.

Staples like eggs and milk continue to cost more (the price of eggs rose 92% between March and April, according to a Food Institute analysis of USDA data). Peanut butter is being recalled and things like sugar, beef and poultry are getting harder to find.

The USDA Food Price Outlook 2022the agency’s consumer price index for food, which measures inflation, rose 1% from March 2022 to April 2022, and food prices were 9.4% higher than in April 2021. And the agency predicts prices will continue to rise this year.

So what’s a person to do?

For one thing, learn to think about ingredients differently. You may have ever sneered at canned chicken or frozen broccoli, thinking they were only good fresh. But with a little change of perspective and a bit of culinary knowledge, you’ll see the potential of green chicken enchiladas with oven-roasted broccoli.

Read on to find out what we do with five inexpensive and versatile foods that are always in our pantry or freezer.

canned chicken

We get it, opening a can of meat can be off-putting. We don’t recommend digging with a spoon (but feel free if that’s your thing – we don’t judge), but we’d like you to give compacted poultry a chance.

You can use it in most recipes where you would use shredded chicken, although we don’t recommend adding it to soups as it may disintegrate a bit in the boiling liquid. I like to use it in quesadillas for a quick lunch or make a chicken salad by adding a touch of mayonnaise, celery, onion and pepper (I don’t add salt to canned foods because they have tend to have higher sodium levels than their fresh produce). counterparts). If you’re feeling a little creative, make a sandwich in the oven with this savory Pillsbury Crescent Rack of Chicken Recipe.

Perfect every time:The Only Pasta Salad Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Frozen pork shoulder

If you’re looking to feed a lot of mouths, or just want to cook once and eat for a week, pork shoulder is hard to beat (plus, the USDA predicts the the price of pork increases less than other meats).

Shane McBride and Matt Abdoo's pork shoulder (aka pulled pork) recipe from their new cookbook,

In addition to being a big cut, pork shoulder is more forgiving than lower-fat cuts like pork chops, which can dry out quickly. You can cook pork shoulder in a slow cooker, pressure cooker, oven, grill – just about anywhere – and it will be tasty. Our two favorites that everyone loves are pulled pork sandwiches and carnitas.

For a simple pulled pork, try this easy one from Better taste from scratch. If you want to impress, you can’t go wrong with Pulled Pork with Zesty Hatch Vinegar BBQ Sauce from the “Pig Beach BBQ Cookbook.”

Slow cooker carnitas are finished in the grill (those crispy bits are the best part!) in this recipe from give me oven.


Rice is up there with Honey, Vinegar and Twinkies in the category of things that don’t expire. Which means you can easily buy in bulk to save even more money. Rice is amazing because it shines on its own or as part of a dish.

Dress white rice with garlic and chicken broth in this garlic butter rice recipe from Classy kitchen. For easy meals, try one pot rice and beans, Cuban rice with chicken, or this easy jambalaya with chicken and sausage.

One-pot chicken and sausage jambalaya

Whenever you can, we recommend making double the rice you’ll need and storing half of it in the fridge for about a day, because the secret to making great fried rice at home is cold rice .


Beans are a cheap and easy ingredient to add weight and nutrition to any meal (even breakfast – just add a few pinto beans to your burrito and you can use fewer eggs while maintaining the high protein level). They are full of fiber, which most of us need more of, as well as iron, magnesium, potassium, folate and lots of other goodies.

We usually opt for canned beans because we are busy and they are much faster to cook. But if you have the time and inclination, dried beans are even cheaper than their canned cousins ​​and give you more control over flavor and texture.

Cannellini bean soup with smoked pork and vegetables.

Use white beans in this pork knuckle and white bean stew from enjoy your food. If you’re looking for a dairy-free option, this creamy vegan pasta from love and lemons this is where it’s happening. Black beans, corn, avocado and tangy spices combine for a delicious and hearty black bean salad from spruce eats.

Frozen vegetables

The frozen variety is just as nutritious as fresh vegetables and lasts infinitely longer. We stock bags of peas, corn, broccoli, diced potatoes, sweet potatoes and mixes like peppers and onions. I rarely take my frozen vegetables from the microwave to the plate because mushy, bland foods aren’t my thing. For example, frozen broccoli florets are processed in the oven. Ice melts to soften them, then a shot of Parmesan cheese and lemon juice makes for a tasty and brilliant side dish you’ll come back to keep coming back for. For a handy guide, try this recipe from The kitchen.

Frozen vegetables add weight and nutrition to a myriad of dishes.

About once every two weeks we make a succotash by combining small portions of corn, edamame (you can try the traditional lima beans, but my family won’t eat them), red pepper and onion in a pan. I start with a little water to vitalize the vegetables, then add butter or olive oil and turn up the heat to give the whole dish a roasted finish.

Other staples we like:

canned tomatoes are perfect for easy chili or mashed in tomato soup.

Tofu is a cheap alternative to meat. It absorbs flavors and is excellent in casseroles and soups.

Tortillas and tacos turn anything into a meal. Whether it’s a combination of meat and lettuce to make a wrap or chicken, cheese and gravy to make an enchilada platter, tortillas are among the most versatile staples in my household. .

canned tuna is low in fat and high in protein, in addition to omega-3s. I eat it with a dab of mayonnaise and chopped pickles and onions for a quick tuna salad, while my kids love it at an old school tuna casserole.

Pasta is an obvious choice, but sometimes it’s the best choice. Turn low-sodium egg noodles, ground beef and cream of mushroom soup into stroganoff. Add the lemon, butter and parmesan to the penne. And who could resist a simple spaghetti bolognese?

Check out these recipes to up your cooking game: