Thinking of easy pantry meals to eat on nights you’re tempted to go out can be a hard thing. Usually, when that temptation hits it’s because we’re tired and looking forward to a relaxing evening. Sometimes it’s because we forgot to go grocery shopping and it looks like there’s nothing to eat.
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I like to eat out just as much as the next person. Getting to sit down and relax while someone waits on your every little request? Sounds a bit like heaven. And, usually when we eat out, the flavors are a little more complex.
And, then, best of all … I get to just stand up and walk away from all that mess. Not that we’re super messy, but no dishes to wash, no food to put away, I don’t have to wash the counters, stovetop, table, floors, pots and pans. You know how it is.
But, when we look at that bill and realize that we just paid at least $60 for a few minutes of laziness and pleasure, I’m not so excited anymore. So, if we avoid eating out at least once per week for the next year we save ourselves over $3,000. That’s a lot of dough.
We still occasionally eat out, but I’ve learned to put the brakes on more often than not by keeping my financial goals in sight and eating easy pantry meals.
I keep my Instant Pot handy for a lot of these meals since it makes quick and easy rice, beans, pasta, and soups. If you keep at least a few of the ingredients below in your pantry, you’ll always be able to make a quick and easy pantry meal instead of eating out, too.
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Easy Pantry Meals to Help You Stop Eating Out
Pasta is so versatile and easy to dress up by changing the style of pasta or the sauce.
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Peanut Sauce
- Alfredo Sauce
- Butter and Parmesan
- Pesto with Chicken
The sauces can be heated while the pasta boils, or in the case of the peanut sauce and the butter/parmesan, they can just be stirred into the hot pasta.
Sausage Many Ways
For super fast meals, use already cooked sausage. These are great to keep in the freezer since they thaw in about 1 minute in the microwave or 5 minutes in a pan of water.
- Kielbasa with Sauerkraut
- Sausage Baked on a Sheet pan with Potatoes and Vegetables
- Sausage Hoagie Rolls with Spaghetti Sauce
- Sausage with Rice
- Sausage with White Beans
DIY Sandwich Board
Set out all different sandwich fixings that you can find in your fridge and pantry. Then let everyone demonstrate their favorite sandwich creations. Serve with fruit, veggies, or chips.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly
Burritos or Quesadillas
If you keep some Tortillas in the fridge, you’ll always be able to make a quick meal. Most kids love them made simply and they’re easy to dress-up for the adults.
- Refried Beans
- Roasted Veggies
- Sour Cream
You can easily make a pantry meal out of a simple baked potato. There are lots of different options for dressing it up. These are some of our favorites but, by all means, don’t forget to top them with Butter and Sour Cream.
- Taco Meat
- Cottage Cheese
- Spaghetti/Pizza Sauce
Nachos might seem like party food, but they can actually make a great dinner. Look through your fridge for leftovers that may work as toppings. Of course, load it up with lots and lots of cheese, too.
- Chicken Breast
- Ground Beef
- Seasoned Black Beans
- Sour Cream
Cheese, Crackers, and Salami
Here’s another thing that doesn’t have to just be saved for a party. The simple cheese and cracker board or charcuterie board as some might call it. This is sure to go down as a favorite with the kids and is so flexible. You can all kinds of different things from the fridge and pantry.
- Sliced Meats
- Sliced Bread
- Dried Fruits
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- Over Rice
- On Refried Beans
- Hardboiled and on a salad
- Egg Salad Sandwiches
- On Baked Potatoes
- With Fried Potatoes
- Chile Rellenos Casserole
Rice is so versatile that you can top it with nearly anything. I love to eat it at any time of the day. Here are some of my favorite ways to eat rice.
- With yolky egg and hot sauce
- Black Beans, Salsa and cheese
- Butter, Soy Sauce and Parmesan Cheese
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Leftover Meat
- Peanut Sauce and Vegetables
- Simple Fried Rice with Ham and Scrambled Egg
- Topped with Milk, Sugar, and Cinnamon
So, there you have it. No matter your reasons for wanting to avoid eating out, there are so many options for simple meals to make at home. You will love staying on budget and probably eating a little healthier, too.
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