Photo by Ted and Chelsea

20 Recipes for the Pasta, Rice, and Beans You've Hopefully Stockpiled by Now

Our best recipes for the two week's worth of cans you've got on the shelf—plus, how to stock your pantry, if you haven't already.
How to Stay In is a series about redefining "normal" life in order to take care of ourselves and one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you may have heard, there's this little bug going around called COV-19, and everyone's telling you stock your pantry and keep a two-week supply of food around just in case things get really ugly. But stocking up means something different to everyone: There are those who intend to ride out the apocalypse one spoonful of peanut butter at a time, and those who can turn a random pile of canned goods into an impressive-looking meal even when the world is on fire. Which side do you wanna be on?


If it's the latter, we've got exactly what you need to know, and first things first: You've gotta load up that pantry. A well-stocked pantry means having non-perishables to turn to when you can't get to the store; they'll keep basically forever, or until you need them. Here's a full breakdown of what we keep in our pantries and why, but if you need a grocery list, here you go:

Our Pantry Essentials

  • Rice and other grains (quinoa, barley, farro, etc.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Vinegars (red, white, apple cider, balsamic—whatever suits your fancy)
  • Vegetable or chicken stock (bouillon cubes or boxed for the pantry shelf, or homemade stuff in the freezer)
  • Beans, canned or dry
  • Canned fish (tuna, anchovies, sardines)
  • Briny things (olives, capers, pickles)
  • Hot sauce and soy sauce
  • Spices (if you're not already stocked, aim for fun stuff like za'atar, chili powder, or curry powder)
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Pasta and noodles
  • Baking essentials like flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and vegetable oil
  • Frozen vegetables

How to Cook with All of It

The point of pantry staples is that you can make bare-bones meals out of them, but you can also amp them up with fresh vegetables, meat, dairy, and eggs when those are on hand. Garlic and onions are a good thing to keep around, too, and if you're stuck (say, sick) eating only pantry food, you'll thank yourself if you grabbed some fun stuff as well: candy, chocolate, chips, and maybe a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano to keep in the fridge.

Once you've gone grocery shopping and gotten the stockpile ready, here are our favorite recipes to turn all those canned and dry goods into meals that don't feel sad.


Easy Ribollita Recipe

This Italian soup recipe relies mostly on root vegetables, beans, and greens that are just as good if they're frozen.

Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Cacio e pepe is basically grown-up mac and cheese that's just as quick and comforting as the boxed stuff.

Tuna Melt Casserole Recipe

If you don't have mushrooms and leeks, no worries—this tuna noodle casserole will be even more like the classic version you might have grown up with.

Roasted Potatoes and Chickpeas with Za'atar

Za'atar is the real star of this super simple recipe, and it's exactly why we like to always keep some fun spices around.

Easy Saimin Recipe

Make the broth ahead of time and keep it in the freezer, and you can have Hawaiian-style saimin almost as fast as it would take to nuke a ramen cup.

Sardine and Tomato Galette Recipe

Like we said, we love to have a few cans of tinned fish on the shelf. They're perfect for enriching a tomato-based sauce, or for taking center stage in this easy galette.

Easy Tomato Soup Recipe

Easy Tomato Soup Recipe

Yep, here's how to actually use up an entire can of tomato paste.

Greek Rice with Greens Recipe

Heap some wilted greens into your rice and the result will feel like a treat, not a desperation meal.

Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

You'll need bacon and eggs to make a real carbonara, so we almost always have those in the fridge.

Easy Antipasti Salad Recipe

Think of this antipasti salad recipe as a framework, so sub in whatever oil-cured, pickled stuff you've got if your shelves look a little different.


Sweet Potato Chip Tortilla Recipe

This Spanish-style tortilla looks fancy, but it's really just potato chips and eggs.

Stir-Fried Instant Ramen Noodles with Pork and Cabbage Recipe

You're probably not going to have all this stuff around all the time, but basically: Play around with your instant ramen by adding whatever veg and meat you've got.

Aloo Parathas Recipe

Spiced potatoes make the filling for these easy-to-make rounds of stuffed dough.

5-Minute Hummus Recipe

You can, in fact, make good homemade hummus without having to soak, boil, or peel any chickpeas.

Chickpea Fritters Recipe

These fritters use canned chickpeas and a bunch of frozen vegetables, so you can really pull them together whenever.

Welsh Rarebit Recipe

Welsh Rarebit Recipe

Beer and cheese are essential for these cheesy toasts, and who doesn't always have that around?

Soy-Cured Eggs Recipe

Soy-Cured Eggs Recipe

Soy-cured eggs keep for several days, and while they're a satisfying snack on their own, they'll also improve any salad, noodle, or rice dish that you add them to.

Trail Mix Trifle Recipe

And this is exactly why we recommend keeping some fun stuff around. We took cues from trail mix for this trifle, but you can use whatever sweets are your favorite.

Banana Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe

Banana Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe

Keep some ripe or even overripe bananas in the freeze, and you can have this no-bake cream pie without much effort.

Triple Chocolate Brownies Recipe

Some people keep a box of mix in the pantry as a staple, but we promise that this triple chocolate brownie recipe is better than anything you can buy.

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