30 Kid-Friendly Recipes You Can Make From the Ingredients in Your Pantry
As if it’s not enough to have to come up with a meal plan based on the can of beans hiding in the back of your pantry, you’re also cooking for the world’s most persnickety food critic: your kid. No worries, friend. It turns out cooking from your pantry and cooking for your kids have something in common: flexibility. If you need to swap an ingredient because you don’t have it (or your kid hates it), more power to you. Here, 30 kid-friendly pantry meals you can make with what you already have.
1. One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone
It certainly doesn’t hurt that this lemony pasta goes from pan to table in 15 minutes. For brownie points, you could even let your kid pick the noodle shape. (Any kind will work.)
2. Bacon and Egg Fried Rice
You’ll love using up leftover rice, they’ll love the crispy bits of bacon and salty sauce. (If you’re all out of eggs, skip ’em.)
3. Skillet Pizza
If you have flour, cheese and a can of tomatoes, you have the makings of the ultimate kid-pleasing dinner. Any toppings (or no toppings) will do.
4. Chicken Tinga Tacos
This one relies on the ultra-convenient rotisserie chicken, but any leftover shredded chicken can replace it. Set the toppings out for a build-your-own taco night and everyone can choose their favorites.
5. One-Pan Spaghetti and Meatballs
It’s a classic for a reason, right? Use jarred marinara sauce and dig that ground beef out of the back of your freezer—dinner’s on in 30 minutes.
6. 10-Minute Macaroni and Cheese in a Mug
It looks a lot like the stuff from the blue box, but it tastes even better.
7. Overstuffed Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle-Lime Yogurt
A surefire way to get your kids to eat “those black things” is to pair them with other well-loved veggies. Best of all, stuffed sweet potatoes can be modified with everything from frozen corn to broccoli to ranch dressing.
8. Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry
Stir-fries are another versatile (and fast!) dinner idea. Oh, your kid hates bell peppers? No big deal, trade them for another crisp and sweet veggie, like carrots.
9. Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers
Nothing against regular burgers, but both cauliflower and sweet potatoes keep a lot longer than ground meat. Plus, it’s an easy way to get more nutrition into everyone’s diet.
10. Cacio e Pepe
This is just like fancy mac and cheese, with a mere six ingredients to boot. (The count is even lower if you leave out the “bits,” aka black pepper.)
11. Sweet Potato Hash Browns Made with a Waffle-Iron
Breakfast for dinner is an easy win, and they’ll be blown away that you made hash browns in a waffle iron.
12. Cheesy Kale Farfalle Pasta
Oh, your kids hate kale? Use spinach. They hate that, too? Try broccoli. What we’re saying is, the sky is the limit.
13. Honey Mustard Sheet-Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts
It’s all about the sweet and tangy honey mustard sauce. Everything else is totally swappable: breasts for thighs, green beans for Brussels sprouts, you get the idea.
14. Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Inexpensive cuts of meat—like pork shoulder—are a pantry cook’s best friend. And if you put it in a taco, you’ll win over the whole family at dinnertime.
15. Avocado and Black Bean Pasta Salad
Think of pasta salad like a blank slate for pantry ingredients. You can go wild with whatever veggies, beans and protein you have on hand.
16. Spicy Corn Carbonara
You have eggs in your fridge, right? You’re one step closer to a creamy, kid-pleasing pasta dinner. (Go easy on the red pepper flakes, of course.)
17. Cheater’s Italian Wedding Soup
If your first thought is, my kid would never eat that, think again. It’s really nothing more than a chicken soup base (carrots, celery, onions, noodles, broth) with sausage meatballs instead. You can leave the kale out or swap it for spinach if you’d like.
18. Johnnycakes with Rhubarb and Sour Cherries
Believe it or not, you probably have the makings for a batch of pancakes in your pantry already. Serve them with any fruit and lots of maple syrup.
19. Savory Cheese Waffles
These waffles are made with cheddar, but any cheese will work—even the pre-shredded kind.
20. Cinnamon-Roll Pancakes
OK, it’s not going to win you any awards for green vegetables. But if you’re trying to win the parent of the year award, on the other hand…
21. Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
You just can’t go wrong with chicken noodle soup. We made it even easier by adapting it to the slow cooker.
22. White Turkey Chili with Avocado
If regular chili is too exotic for your kids, try a white chili. It’s just as easy to make with canned staples, but a bit more mild for little taste buds.
23. Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Chicken soup, meet potato gnocchi. There’s nothing not to like about pillows of doughy pasta.
24. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Blue Cheese Crema
Hold the dipping sauce, unless you’ve been blessed with children who will eat blue cheese.
25. Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Bites
A can of whole tomatoes and some store-bought chicken stock will take you far. You don’t have to serve this in mini mason jars, but it sure is cute.
26. One-Pot Creamy Chicken Alfredo
In this 35-minute recipe, everything comes together in a single pot. Bonus: You can use whatever type of milk or cream you have available in the fridge.
27. Easy One-Pan Baked Ziti
Memorize this formula: pasta + canned tomatoes + cheese = baked ziti. Everything else is optional.
28. Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
Cauliflower holds up nicely in the fridge, so it’s an excellent choice when you’re not running to the store all the time. It also blends seamlessly into mac and cheese. (Just sayin’).
29. Garlic Breaded Roast Chicken Breast
When you’re not sure what to do with the chicken you’ve been hoarding in your freezer, coat it in garlicky breadcrumbs and watch it disappear.
30. Falafel Patties
A kid-friendly way to serve chickpeas? Mash them up with whatever herbs or greens you have and turn them into falafel. Just tell them they’re a cool cousin of chicken nuggets.