Pantry cooking ideas: How to use what you have to make creative meals

As we all try to minimise and avoid unnecessary trips to the supermarket, our pantry is the first place we look for cooking inspiration.

Now is a great time to pull everything out of the pantry, look for expired items to throw away and then refresh your mind with the ingredients that you have.

This is going to be where cooks start getting creative.

Think of this as a challenge – utilise your pantry before running out to the supermarket.

Make meal plans for the entire week, or longer, so that when you do have to stock up then you are prepared and will minimise unnecessary trips to the supermarket.

Baranduda Community Centre’s resident chef, Leti has some great ideas for utilising your pantry and substituting ingredients.

If you have some ingredients you want to use up, but you are not sure what to make, Leti suggests turning to Google.

“Google the items on your computer and you will get some suggestions,” she said.

“Now is a good time to look through the fridge and cut up the vegetables you are not going to use for anything else and put them in a soup.

“Do a big cook up because soup freezes well, and it will be good to have in the freezer going into the cooler months.”

Leti also suggests buying fresh herbs and some vegetable to freeze so you have access to these items when you need them.

If you’re out of an ingredient, Leti says you can substitute with what you already have.

If you need an onion for soup, maybe the answer is to add more garlic powder or herbs.

Out of eggs and can’t find them at the supermarket but want to bake or maybe make a meatloaf?

You can try:

* 1 egg = 2 tbsp. of water and 2 tsp baking powder and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (well blended with a whisk)


* 1 egg = 1/4 cup applesauce or mashed banana (especially good for pancakes or waffles)

If you are scratching for something easy to make with pantry staples, here’s a recipe for Chilli Con Carne that involves just four ingredients:

Chilli Con Carne (serves four)


500 grams lean beef mince

35 grams packet chilli con carne seasoning

700 grams jar passata

400 grams can of red kidney beans drained


In a non-stick frying pan, brown the mince over a medium high heat.

Stir in the chilli con carne seasoning.

Add passata and beans.

Cover and simmer gently, stirring often until the mince is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

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