Recipes from the Food Pantry

by Ragtimelil

What you can make out of canned and dried food from the food pantry.

I never was much interested in cooking but when the food supply gets low, I get obsessed with food. It may be because I’m getting hungry and there is simply nothing easy or tasty to eat. By the end of the month the cupboards are bare except for a lot of things I don’t know what to do with. I’m at the point where I will gag if I have to eat another bowl of beans and rice or pasta and spaghetti sauce.

Food Pantries

Food pantries are all different. In the small towns of New England, where I used to live, you could count on getting powered or canned milk. You most likely would get tuna or canned chicken and soup. Some places let you choose what you wanted. Some had frozen meat. Most had some personal supplies.

Here in my corner of Texas, the lines are longer and the bags of food are already filled. I’ve only gotten milk once and it has become one of my most common store purchases, along with toilet paper. The pantry hands out a lot of sweet cakes and pastries which, I confess, I enjoy, but I don’t consider it real food. They do give out some meat, enough for a day or two. One place has locally grown and donated fresh vegetables and a table of outdated bread. It’s great to have fresh food, but it runs out quickly, and it's a race to finish the bread before it gets fuzzy. You never get flour, sugar or any real staples. The bulk of it is cans and cans of mushy vegetables. I have a closet shelf overflowing with canned green beans, canned carrots, canned corn, canned diced tomatoes, dried beans, rice, and dried pasta.



I'm looking forward to the day when I can go grocery shopping at a real grocery store again.

I decided to do some experimenting and see what I could come up with for easy food made primarily from items from the local food pantry. I’ll be adding to my collection as I discover more delicious things to do with canned vegetables.

Ramen Noodle Chickpea Soup

Some months ago, I discovered I had a bag of ramen noodles and a can of chickpeas on the shelf. I like ramen noodles, but it’s another food that can be overdone, especially since it is so extremely cheap. The noodles and the chickpeas came from the pantry. I had bought some grated parmesan cheese. It seems to make everything taste better.

Ramen noodles

Canned chickpeas

Grated cheese

I cooked the noodles by pouring boiling water over it and letting it sit. I only use about half the seasoning packet because it tastes too strong and salty for me. I added about half of the can of chickpeas and sprinkled on the cheese. It was tasty and more filling than the noodles alone.


Pasta Salad with Canned Veggies

I put out a plea to friends and relatives for some ideas. This came out of that conversation. I happened to have some mayo on hand. I’ve never been fond of pasta salad, but I think it’s the texture mix I don’t like. This I did like.



Cooked Pasta

Assorted Canned Veggies

Mayonnaise to taste

Mix and cool.


Fried Rice and Veggies

I tried making some rice and canned vegetable soup. It had all the flavor of boiled cardboard. I thought to try frying the mush in some oil and garlic. (I was out of onions)

Cooking oil (don’t overdo it)fried rice

Onion or garlic or both

Leftover rice

Canned veggies

Any meat leftovers (optional)

Pinch salt

Brown the garlic then dumped the rest in. Cook until tastes good.


Switchel, Ginger Water or Haymaker’s Punch

I sometimes get thirsty for something besides water. I like a good cooling drink, especially when it is hot. These ingredients don’t come from the pantry, but they’re all things I tend to have on hand.


Water mixed with apple cider vinegar

Sweeten with sugar  (or honey, molasses or maple syrup)

Season with ginger (optional)




Switchel Ingredients

Bragg - Apple Cider Vinegar, 32 oz liquid

Certified Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is unfiltered, unheated and unpasteurized. Aged in wood, this Apple Cider Vinegar is a wholesome way to add a delicious flavor to...

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Y.S. Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey - 22 oz

Raw, Unheated, Unfiltered, Unpasteurized What is the major difference in organic from conventional beekeeping? Organic bee colonies are not maintained with the use of any chemic...

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Simply Organic Ginger Root Ground Certified Organic, 1.64-Ounce Containers (Pack of 3)

We're Simply Organic. Our goal is to enrich people's lives with an honest promise of freshness, quality and taste that can only come from organically grown foods. We celebrate l...

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Updated: 09/21/2012, Ragtimelil
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Ragtimelil on 07/24/2012

I'm just trying to look on the bright side and use what I have. Besides, I get an article out of it too!

dustytoes on 07/24/2012

You are very resourceful and have a good imagination to try the recipes with such little to choose from. And good idea to use half that packet of ramen flavor. I think they put enough salt in those to last someone a year!
I know there are ways to help you out even though we can't take you out to eat or to the grocery store. I also pray that things will be looking up for you soon.

Ragtimelil on 07/24/2012

Thanks so much. I keep saying, there's no where to go but up. I thought I'd make humus with the chickpeas, but didn't have the other ingredients. I do have some tomato plants growing. I have to grow in containers here, which is fine. But I left all my pots and buckets when I moved.

Ragtimelil on 07/23/2012

Thanks for the good laugh. You can take me out for dinner anytime!

BrendaReeves on 07/23/2012

Girl, you are what I call a survivalist. If I lived near you, I'd take you out for a good dinner. My mother hated cooking, so she fed me and my brother canned vegetables all the time. I don't know how we survived it. I'm going to pray that money flows your way.

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