4 Pantry Hacks For When You Just Don't Feel Like Grocery Shopping

Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
How do I get through February, a month that I'd argue to be the worst of the entire year? By hacking my pantry. That begins with a general avoidance of grocery shopping. Sure, I eventually need to pay occasional visits to my local market for some necessities (a.k.a. things that are not solely prepackaged and shelf-lifeless) — but I have perfected that visit to occur as infrequently as possible. So the rest of those wintry February evenings are spent warmly wrapped in my Snuggie, whipping up an easy meal, all while SVU softly coos its opening chords in the background. And now, you can too.

Because ALL of this is made possible via pantry hacks. These masterful moves will have you plating your favorite comfort food dish from a few packaged-goods and that leftover produce you've been meaning to use (or are dangerously close to throwing out) in no time. Click on and study up so that you too can hibernate through the rest of this bleak month.
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Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
1. Most Classic Pantry Hack: Make A Soup
A quick and easy option that can be whipped together with whatever veggies, beans, or grains you happen to have around. And maybe even some of that leftover chicken from earlier in the week that you've been meaning to use up...
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Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
Bean & Barley Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced medium
1 large carrot, peeled and diced medium
2 stalks celery, diced medium, plus leaves for garnish
3 cloves, garlic, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup pearled barley
1 can (14 oz) diced tomato with juices
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Chopped celery (optional)

Instructions
1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent, about four minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add kidney beans, barley, tomato with juices, and broth and bring to a rapid simmer.

2. Simmer until barley is cooked, about 20 minutes.

3. Divide among bowls and top with celery and parsley leaves.
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Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
2. Rookie Pantry Hack Mistake: Ruling Out A Burger
Get creative on the bean-burger front and add whatever leftover herbs you've managed to store up in your fridge. Use a pinch of a few spices off your rack and any cheeses and veggies you can get your hands on. Don't have a bun? Use two slices of bread for a patty melt situation. AND, condiment-ize the shit out it for a meal that you'll actually want to grocery shop for.
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Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
Spinach Lentil Burgers
Serves 4

Ingredients
1/4 cup bulgur
1/4 cup canola oil, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 can lentils (15 oz), drained and rinsed
1 box (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 large egg
1 cup crumbled or grated cheese, such as mild feta or sharp cheddar
Slices of cheese to melt on top (optional)
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp hot sauce or pepper paste (we used harissa)
4 burger buns
Lettuce leaves
Sliced cucumber (optional)
Sliced Tomato (optional)
Sliced Red Onion (optional)

Instructions
1. Place bulgur in a medium bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let sit 15 minutes.

2. In a medium skillet over medium, heat one tbsp oil. Add onion and cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, lightly mash lentils with a fork. Fold in onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Drain bulgur, if needed, and fold into lentil mixture. Stir in spinach until completely incorporated. Taste mixture and adjust seasoning prior to adding egg. Add egg and mix well. Fold in cheese.

4. Divide mixture into four portions and shape into patties the same diameter as burger buns.

5. Wipe pan clean and return to medium heat with remaining oil. Working in batches, cook patties until crisp and deep golden brown, flipping halfway through cooking, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

6. In a small bowl, combine yogurt and hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on the top halves of buns. Arrange lettuce, lentil patties, and cucumbers on bottom buns and place too buns, spread side down.
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Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
3. Fancy (But Secretly Simple) Pantry Hack: Make A Risotto
Even without any leftover produce to incorporate, you can whip up this creamy dish with olive oil, broth or stock, and any aged cheese or grain you happen to have on hand (e.g. yes, you can make a cheddar farro risotto).
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Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
Brown Rice Risotto With Roasted Mushrooms & Squash
Serves 4

Ingredients
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups short grain brown rice
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1 lb peeled, cubed butternut squash
8 oz sliced mushrooms
2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus leaves for garnish
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Chives for serving, optional

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 425°. In a medium pot, heat two tbsp olive oil over medium. Add onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add broth and 3/4 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is almost tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, on separate rimmed baking sheets, toss mushrooms and squash with remaining olive oil and the thyme. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden and squash is tender and golden at edges, about 20 minutes.

3. Stir risotto vigorously for two minutes. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until completely incorporated. Add up to 1 cup water, if necessary to maintain a slightly loose, creamy consistency. Divide among bowls and top with mushrooms and squash. Sprinkle with Parmesan and fresh thyme leaves and serve immediately.
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Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
4. Fastest Pantry Hack: Pasta!
Grab that box of spaghetti and let your flavor favorites lead you — a lot can be accomplished with olive oil, lemon, garlic cloves, some spices, and any canned goods (e.g. tomatoes or tuna).
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Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
Tuna & Spinach Spaghetti With Crispy Capers & Garlic
Serves 4

Ingredients
Salt and pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup capers, drained and squeezed dry in paper towel
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
5 oz baby spinach
1 lemon, finely grated zest plus wedges
Red chili flakes, to taste

Instructions
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add garlic and capers and cook, stirring frequently, until both are crisp, garlic is deep golden and capers have frizzled, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove capers and garlic to paper towel to drain.

2. Return pan with oil to heat and add spinach. Stirring constantly, cook until beginning to wilt, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add spaghetti and stir to combine.

3. Divide pasta among plates and too with tuna. Top with reserved capers and garlic, lemon zest and chili flakes. Serve with lemon wedges.
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Photographed by Davide Luciano; Food Styling by Jen Beauchesne; Prop Styling by Alex Brannian.
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