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14 simple dinners you can make with pantry staples

Whether you are trying to stick to a budget or want to be prepared for emergencies, knowing how to make the most of the ingredients you have on hand is a great cooking skill. To help, we've rounded up 14 recipes that make the most of pantry essentials.

By Harriet Keown
Our top tips for having a well-stocked kitchen:
  • Regularly check your most commonly used ingredients such as spices, spreads, sauces and oils, and top them up when needed. Don't forget about cleaning products too - e.g. paper towels, dish-washing liquid and dishwasher powder - you don't know what you got 'til it's gone.
  • Having a variety of canned legumes, vegetables and fish makes cooking a breeze. Chickpeas, lentils, beans, tomatoes, salmon and tuna will all keep for weeks, so it's a great way to ensure you always have nutritious ingredients on hand.
  • As well as cans, have a shelf filled with plenty of dry goods such as rice, pasta, lentils and beans - these will help you make your meals go further.
  • Vegetables such as pumpkin, kūmara, potatoes, onions and garlic are handy to keep on hand, as they keep for months when stored correctly.
  • If you have room, regularly stock your freezer with meat, bread, fruit and vegetables. Dairy products like milk and butter also freeze well, or you could go a step further by cooking or baking in bulk and freezing some for later.
  • Eggs are another great long-life source of nutrition - they should keep for 3-5 weeks and are handy to have for cooking and baking.
  • Make use of your windowsill for growing herbs or sprouting beans so you are always able to add plenty of flavour to your dishes.
  • 1

    Pumpkin and cashew curry

    This pumpkin and cashew curry is so incredibly moreish! The cashews soften to a light crunch on cooking and the mix of spices forms the perfect background for the pumpkin.

    New Zealand Woman's Weekly|

  • 2

    Funky pumpkin soup

    This is a simple traditional pumpkin soup recipe without any milk or cream, except for a garnish and that is optional. You can remove the curry and ginger if you prefer plain flavours

    New Zealand Taste|

  • 3

    Dhal with chutney yoghurt

    Lentil and chickpea dhal with chutney yoghurt from Australian Women's Weekly.

    Australian Women's Weekly|

  • 4

    Egyptian-style beans

    This Egyptian-style beans recipe is popular as a breakfast dish as it’s cheap and robust enough to sustain you all day. Served with freshly baked flatbreads, for a delicious midweek meal.

    New Zealand Woman's Weekly|

  • 5

    Pumpkin, orange and quinoa salad

    This delicious pumpkin, orange and quinoa salad is packed full of plant-based proteins and the butterkin (a cross between butternut and pumpkin) is sweet and comforting with every mouthful.

    New Zealand Woman's Weekly|

  • 6

    Spaghetti lentil bolognese

    A delicious new twist on a versatile Italian staple. Enjoy this wonderfully comforting spaghetti lentil bolognese for a hearty midweek meal that the whole family will love!

    Woman's Day (NZ edition)|

  • 7

    Chickpea shakshuka

    This Moroccan inspired chickpea shakshuka dish has a spicy kick to it. Shakshuka is traditionally served at breakfast and perfect for dinner too. Serve with baked mountain bread and chili oil

    Australian Women's Weekly|

  • 9

    Fried rice with egg roll

    It’s hard to go past a really good fried rice. Top with protein-packed egg rolls and you’ve got a complete meal with Nici Wickes's deliciously filling fried rice.

    New Zealand Woman's Weekly|

  • 11

    Potato and egg rendang

    In an aromatic sauce, this perfectly rich potato and egg rendang is bursting with flavour and is perfect served with rice and topped with fresh coriander for an incredibly warming family meal.

    Woman's Day (NZ edition)|

  • 12

    Salmon and broccoli pasta bake

    Whether you are cooking a family meal or making lunch or dinner for friends, this fast and fresh pasta dish fits the bill. If you don't have individual ramekins, use a baking dish instead and divide between 4 plates or dishes.

    Woman's Day|

  • 13

    Roast pumpkin risotto

    Rich, creamy and delicious - this pumpkin risotto is a great dinner party dish. When it's cold outside, this beautiful and colourful pumpkin risotto is like a big, warm hug.

    Woman's Day|

  • 14

    Lentil and tomato bake

    This wholesome lentil and tomato bake is perfect for dinner this weekend. Hearty and delicious, this is a dish the whole family will love.

    Australian Women's Weekly|