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5 Pantry Staples You Can Transform Into Fast and Easy Meals


Chantelle Ellem, the brilliant mind behind the popular Australian lifestyle blog Fat Mum Slim shares her go-to meals to whip up when you just don’t have time to cook. Even better, you probably already have these ingredients on hand.

Is there anything worse than staring into an empty fridge with the sinking feeling “What on earth am I going to cook for dinner tonight?” Couple that with two kids tearing around the house on a birthday-party-treats sugar high, and you have a recipe for a serious Sunday night headache. In these moments, it can be so easy to call the local Chinese restaurant or pizza place, but over the years, I’ve learned some genius hacks to save your money and your waistline. The pantry is a treasure trove for easy, quick, and simple dinners — with the right base and a few fresh ingredients, you can be well on your way to creating chef-worthy, 10-minute dinners.


Noodles Getty Images

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Noodles are the unsung hero of the pantry. They make a fab snack or can be whipped together with fresh ingredients to make a wholesome meal. Not only are noodles so quick to prepare (literally 2 minutes), they are also one of the most versatile pantry bases. Plain noodles can be quickly jazzed up with a variety of stir-fried veggies and a fried egg on top (my version of mee goreng). They’re also fantastic for a quick chicken stir-fry, or they can be baked to a delicious crispy texture in the oven, to be sprinkled on top of fresh summer salads for that extra crunch.


Rice is another simple ingredient which can assist in making a filling and wholesome family meal. Microwaveable rice is a quick, inexpensive, and the perfect base for a delicious salmon, avocado, and brown rice salad. While your salmon is cooking on the pan, cut up some avocado, green onion, cucumber, and radish, and mix in some extra virgin olive oil as a dressing. If salmon isn’t your favorite protein, some diced chicken or beef strips work well, too.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned Tomatoes Getty Images

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

These are an often underestimated yet valuable can, which is sure to be hidden at the back of the pantry. Whip up an easy grilled barbecue chicken in a Mexican-style sauce by simmering canned tomatoes with mixed Mexican herbs and spices (I even like using the flavor packet from taco packs), along with some diced capsicum, red onion, and cilantro. The sauce is so delicious on top of smoky grilled chicken. If you want a heartier meal, you can even pop some two-minute noodles in the microwave, and transform your Mexican chicken into a tasty noodle dish.

Canned Tuna

Canned Tuna Getty Images

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Canned tuna is yet another pantry staple that can very easily be used to make an effortless and tasty meal. It is a highly adaptable protein, which can I use as part of niçoise salad, tuna mornay, or potato fish cakes.


Pasta is a classic pantry staple and comfort food that is both affordable and versatile. I can guarantee it is in almost every household. My preference is to use spaghetti or angel hair pasta, as it cooks in only five minutes. While the pasta is boiling in the pot, you can slice up some ham and mix together a simple lemon and parsley sauce — so easy but full of flavor. Another favorite of ours is prawn pasta bakes, with a sweet chili, lime, sriracha, and Greek yogurt sauce.

This article was written by Chantelle Ellum, as told to Food to Love editors. For more, check out our sister site, Food to Love.

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