Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pantry Meals: Dinnertime Lifesavers Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I love my freezer meals. (You can read more about them here.) Now I want to tell you about something equally as amazing- pantry meals. Pantry meals are just like freezer meals in that they are prepared ahead of time, but instead of keeping them in your freezer you keep them in your pantry. Our family loves them. When I made my last batch of freezer meals I also made almost 40 pantry meals to have on hand for quick and easy dinners. Many of the pantry meals I made are homemade versions of Hamburger Helper. My kids love them because they are things they like such as Cheeseburger Helper or Lasagna Helper and I love them because they are easy and convenient like Hamburger Helper, but they don't have any of the preservatives that you find in the real Hamburger Helper from the store.

The pantry meals are so easy to put together. Many of my recipes had "seasoning packets" that I combined into a small zip-top bag and then a grain that I measured out into a larger bag. I just put the small bag in the big bag with the grain and store it in the pantry. It's that easy. Many of the meals also call for fresh or canned ingredients that I already keep on hand in our pantry or fridge and add on the day I cook the meal. Other pantry meals are even easier to put together like the Lentil and Barley Stew (pictured above, recipe below). For these you can just combine all the ingredients into a single zip-top bag and store them in the pantry- so simple!

The Hamburger Helper-like pantry meals are a little bit more time consuming to cook than our freezer meals (maybe 30 minutes from start to finish), but you can also find recipes like the Lentil and Barley Stew where you dump everything in the slow cooker and you are done! 

If you are a little hesitant about trying freezer meals, pantry meals are a good place to start in the world of make-ahead meals. The ingredients are cheap and many of them you probably already have on hand! They are also really, really simple to put together- even more so than freezer meals.

Here are the recipes we have tried. My family has seriously loved them all:

And in case you can't read it off the picture, here is the recipe for Lentil and Barley Stew (recipe adapted from
Dry Ingredients (add to large zip-top bag):
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
3/4 cup uncooked barley
3/4 cup uncooked lentils
Fresh Ingredients (add on day of cooking)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
3 cloves crushed garlic
Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
Pour contents of bag into slow cooker.
Add water, broth, and garlic.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Have you ever tried pantry meals? How about freezer meals? Do you consider them dinnertime lifesavers as well?


  1. This is great! Thank you for sharing!

    1. No problem! I hope it is helpful for you and your family!