Are you one of the people who rushed to the store in a panic when you heard that there might be a quarantine and there was a chance that you would be confined to your home for an extended period of time? Did you, in your haste, fill your cart with cans of food that you don’t usually buy or eat? Now that you’ve blown your grocery budget, are you staring at all of these cans and asking yourself, “What can I do with all of these cans?” Fortunately, I am here to help. I have some suggestions for some good tasting quarantine cooking.
I realize that when you went to the store, you might have been forced to buy what food you could find. The shelves in my local stores were very bare, but they were bare in different sections in different stores. Winco didn’t have any canned food, dried beans, rice, or pasta, but their produce section was very full. Vons and Albertsons (both of these stores are owned by the same parent company) had empty produce sections, but they had dried pasta and a few bags of beans. Rice was gone from all of our local stores.
On one trip to the grocery store before there were any cases reported in our county, I passed a young couple. The man was busy loading an entire case of each vegetable available into their cart while his female companion pointed out that they didn’t eat that stuff.
“We’re going to need it.” was his reply as he reached for a case of canned peas to place on top of the cases of corn and green beans.
I could spend the next hour discussing why this wasn’t the best choice to make, but instead I will share the first rule of food storage.
When you’re going through a stressful situation, food that you enjoy, and that brings comfort, is the best thing. That’s not the time to introduce your family to a whole lot of new menu items. Personally, I stocked up on cheese balls and Oreos. They aren’t things I usually buy, but I love them and so do my husband and children. A few indulgences in the event of quarantine wouldn’t hurt. Besides, I already had about three months of real food in our house. I just needed a few fresh things to fill in the gaps to make the meals my family is familiar with, but I digress.
If you’re interested in learning more about starting your own food storage, check out the links below.
- What should I store? Part 1–Determine What You Eat
- What should I store? Part 2–Making your Food List
- What should I store? Part 3–Deciding How Much is Enough
If you’re wondering about canned or frozen ingredients for your recipes when compared to fresh, check out this post which discusses which compares canned and frozen and which is a better value, but the post also addresses some of the nutritional concerns people have. One of my friend rants about how bad canned green beans are for you because they contain all of these bad ingredients. My response is simple. Read the labels on your cans. There are canned vegetables that are organic. There are also canned vegetables that contain only the vegetable, water, and salt. There are no “bad” ingredients in these.
Now, let’s get back to some great tasting quarantine cooking and tips for what you can do with all of those canned goods.
Recipes That Use Canned Ingredients
This list consists of many of the recipes on the Patty Cake’s Pantry website that contain one or more canned ingredients. Some of these recipes are made entirely of shelf stable ingredients while others are made from a combination of canned and fresh ingredients. Each of these recipes was taste tested and approved by my family as well as some of my coworkers. I don’t know about other food bloggers, but I provide free lunch at my “real” job in exchange for honest reviews of recipes.
Being in quarantine doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate. None of these appetizers are prepared entirely from shelf stable ingredients, but they each contain at least one shelf stable item.
Hot Shrimp and Artichoke Dip is a simple and delicious dip. It is made from canned artichoke hearts, and canned shrimp can be used if you have them available. Other shellfish can also be used in this recipe, too. Consider adding drained cans of crab meat or a combination of crab and shrimp.
This version of Spinach Artichoke dip is made from canned artichoke hearts and frozen spinach. It is simple to make in the slow cooker and is a definite crowd pleaser around here–at least as much of a crowd as our family of five makes.
Like the other recipes on this list of appetizers, Tuna Stuffed Jalapenos uses a combination of canned an fresh ingredients. It makes use of canned tuna, so I’ve included it here. These jalapenos are simple, delicious, and a great way to use up some of those cans of tuna.
My favorite way to prepare Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip is to use canned chicken breast. When I prepare it this way, there’s no need to cook or shred the chicken. All I have to do is open a couple cans and put everything into the slow cooker. This dip is amazing. If you’ve never had it, you need to put it on your list of things to try.
The first time that I was served this Shrimp Dip, it was made with canned shrimp. I make it with whatever I have on hand. Sometimes, that’s frozen salad shrimp, and sometimes, it’s canned shrimp. This dip requires cream cheese and sour cream, but it does use canned, and self stable ingredients, too.
You might be surprised to learn that a variety of different canned ingredients can be used to prepare some tasty salads.
This salad bar staple, Three Bean Salad, is very easy to make and is prepared entirely from shelf stable ingredients. The only fresh ingredient needed is onion, and if you don’t have a red onion, a white or brown one will work just as well.
With the exception of a package of frozen edamame, Sweet and Sour Bean Salad is made entirely from items found on the pantry shelf. It’s simple and tastes best when it’s allowed to marinate overnight in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to fully combine.
This is one of my favorite recipes. Simple Pea Salad can be prepared with either frozen or canned peas.
This salad, which can also be served as a salsa alongside some chips, can be made using cans of any kind of beans. Corn and Kidney Bean Salad is actually a mistake. I originally intended to use black beans, but in my haste, I opened a can of kidney beans. Since one of our mottos here is to make do with what we have, I proceeded with the recipe. It was still delicious. I have made this recipe using several different types of beans–cannellini, great northern, and pintos. Each version has tasted delicious. This recipe calls for fresh tomato, green onions and cilantro.
The recipe for Texas Caviar uses canned black eyed peas along with fresh vegetables and a bottle of Zesty Italian Salad Dressing. It’s a favorite around here during summer grilling time.
As the weather gets warmer, soup might not be something that you enjoy. Personally, I love soup any time of the year. Certain members of my household, however, only enjoy soup when it’s cold outside. All of the following recipes are amazing and several are very simple.
Easy Black Bean Soup has become one of my favorite recipes to make for lunch. If there aren’t any leftovers in the fridge, and I don’t feel like a sandwich, I can whip up this soup and let it simmer while I get ready for work. All I have to do is pour some of it into a thermos and head out the door. I really love this soup. It’s simple, and the flavor is amazing.
Creamy Tomato Soup is so simple to prepare. The only fresh ingredient required is cream, but if you don’t have that, you can substitute an equal portion of canned evaporated milk for the cream. This soup is delicious on its own or with a sandwich. You have to try this one.
Potato Bacon Soup is made entirely from shelf stable ingredients. An onion is the only ingredient that doesn’t come from a can, but don’t let that fool you. This soup is amazing. Our family loves it. Throw in a can of chopped or minced clams to make clam chowder.
This version of Chili con Carne with Beans is made entirely from canned ingredients with the exception of onions and garlic. If you don’t have onions or garlic, you can substitute dried minced onions or onion powder for the onions and garlic powder for the garlic. It’s simple and delicious.
Chicken Enchilada Soup with Black Beans and Corn is a hearty and delicious soup that’s made from six different canned ingredients combined with carrots, celery, and onion. It’s amazing, and to make it totally sinful, you can top it with tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Yum! We also have a recipe for a delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup that uses lots of cans, but calls for leftover or freshly cooked chicken in place of the canned.
If you have leftover ham in the freezer, you need to make this soup. Ham, Green Bean and Potato Soup is simple, and it’s delicious. If you don’t have ham broth, you can also make this soup using water and bouillon cubes. This soup is really good. My taste testers all muttered “Mmm” after their first bite. That a definite win.
Navy Bean Soup is another one of our favorites. We usually make it from dried beans, but this version is made from canned. It’s handy to be able to open up a can of beans to start the soup. It saves a great deal of cooking time. This recipe calls for fresh carrots, onion, celery and garlic.
Ready in about 30 minutes, this recipe for Vegetable Beef Soup uses canned vegetables, dehydrated celery and canned roast beef to produce a flavorful pot of soup that’s a great accompaniment to a sandwich or makes a great meal on its own.
This recipe for Mexican Style Turkey Soup may not be appropriate for this list because in addition to canned ingredients, it calls for a few fresh vegetables, too. I have included it because I know several families that purchased turkeys for their freezer going into quarantine. They realized that they can get a lot of meals from one turkey, so I included this recipe. Several of our local stores, while having dwindling supplies of shelf stable items, continue to have lots of fresh vegetables, so on your forays into the stores for your weekly or monthly shopping trips, you can pick these up. Don’t forget to boil your turkey carcass to make broth.
Our final soup recipe is Chicken Chile Verde, a white chicken chili that’s made entirely from shelf stable ingredients. The only fresh ingredients are onions and garlic. This is another of my favorite soups, and when it’s served with a wedge of cornbread or a quesadilla, it’s a complete meal.
Tuna and Rice Salad is something I created one day when I found myself with only one can of tuna and more people to feed than that can would be able to manage. Mixing the tuna with rice before making the salad performed two functions. It extended the tuna, so I could feed everyone, and it diminished the fishy taste of the tuna. One person insisted that it was chicken salad instead of tuna. If you’re running low on tuna and still have rice, this is one way you can make it last longer.
Canned Chicken can also be used to make a tasty lunch.
Burr-i-lada is what you get when you transform a burrito into an enchilada. This is a simple three ingredient recipe that starts with frozen burritos, and it was a definite success in our house. This could make a delicious lunch or dinner. Burr-i-ladas could be a great recipe for after quarantine, too. It’s easier than picking up takeout.
As the name implies, the recipe for Ramen Stir fry makes use of that pantry staple–Ramen noodles. It’s a homemade “chow mein” that can be prepared a variety of different ways. Our children love this, and it makes a great dinner, too.
This is a simple tomato noodle soup that’s loaded with flavor. The Sopa de Fideos in the photo above were made with less broth to make it more like a pasta dish. The ingredients are all shelf stable, and it’s a change of pace from your usual lunch.
This might not be for everyone, but growing up, Hominy and Bacon was one of my favorite foods. Other neighborhood kids also enjoyed it. It’s another simple meal that uses canned ingredients.
This may seem odd, but Beans and Toast were a staple in my house growing up. Often I would eat them for breakfast, but I also loved them for lunch. The secret is to have well seasoned beans that you enjoy eating. Some people swear by cans of Heinz beans, others like baked beans. Whatever type of beans you like, give this a try.
Putting a Salmon Patty on a dinner roll or hamburger bun makes a delicious and simple lunch. These are simple to make, and our family loves them. While I’ve never tried it, I have heard that you can make tuna patties using a similar recipe.
I realize that this recipe for seafood salad is made with surimi from the meat department, but canned crab can be used in place of the fresh surimi. You will still need fresh celery and onion, but using canned crab or a combination of canned crab and canned shrimp allows you to prepare this delicious salad using some pantry items.
This recipe for ceviche is a cheat. It’s starts with a jar of picante sauce. If you don’t have fresh or frozen crab and shrimp, you can substitute an equal amount of canned. If you don’t have green onions, cilantro, or tomato, this recipe is still good. I love ceviche served with chips, or on a tostada, for lunch, especially in the summer when I don’t want to turn on my stove.
Why do I have a recipe for Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce listed under lunch? It’s because in our house, tortilla, or English muffin pizzas are a great lunch item, but what happens if you don’t have any pizza sauce? It’s simple. You whip up some of this because it’s quick and easy.
This recipe begins with frozen meatballs which are combined with one can and one jar. Everything goes into the crockpot, and in a few hours, you have a delicious supply of Three Ingredient Slow Cooker Meatballs to feed your family. These can be served as meatballs or arranged on buns as meatball subs.
Baked Ravioli Casserole isn’t made entirely from canned foods, but it’s a simple recipe for stressful times, and it does use a 24 ounce can of spaghetti sauce. It’s simple to assemble, and it’s one of my family’s favorites.
This Ravioli Lasagna made from canned beef ravioli is something created recently. Canned ravioli is layered with the usual cheesy layer that we make for our lasagna. Not 100% shelf stable ingredients, but it’s still delicious. Give it a try.
Taco skillet is a one dish meal that’s simple to prepare, and is a family favorite around here. Even my picky eater asked for seconds. The best part is that there’s no chopping required. (Technically, you have to cut up the tortillas, but otherwise, there’s no chopping.)
This vegan dish is made entirely from shelf stable ingredients. It’s quick and easy, but don’t let that fool you. Cannellini Beans and Tomatoes is a recipe that’s loaded with flavor. When you serve it over pasta, it’s sure to become a pasta fasul that you won’t forget. (Fasul, like fagiole, is Italian for Beans.)
In my opinion, macaroni and cheese is a comfort food. This recipe for Baked, No Boil, Macaroni and Cheese is delicious, and it scores extra points because it’s a time saver. Combine all of the ingredients in a baking dish, and pop it into the oven, and in about an hour, you have a pan full of delicious macaroni and cheese. It uses canned milk, too. The best part is that while it’s baking, you can help your children with their school work, or do laundry, or whatever requires your attention.
This recipe contains five cans as ingredients, so it’s definitely pantry friendly. You can make this more special by topping the casserole with your favorite taco toppings, but it’s good plain, too. Our family loved this Chicken Taco Casserole, and we know you will, too.
Tuna Mac and Cheese Skillet has only six ingredients and is a great recipe for a beginner cook because it starts with boxed macaroni and cheese. It’s simple to prepare, and makes a delicious, and simple, dinner from the pantry.
Jambalaya from the Pantry is a simple recipe. With the exception of a fresh yellow onion, this recipe is made entirely from long term storage ingredients. Don’t let that fact fool you into thinking it’s bland. This Jambalaya recipe is loaded with flavor, and our family loved it.
This recipe is Vegan, but you can make some substitutions if you’re not vegan. This dish is prepared from completely shelf stable ingredients. If you don’t like coconut milk, you can use canned evaporated milk instead. We love this creamy tomato sauce over pasta.
I was fifteen before I ever tasted a tuna sandwich, and I had never tasted a tuna casserole before this. Berta’s Tuna Casserole is made completely out of pantry staples (unless you add freshly grated cheese to the top), and it allows you to use up those crumbs that are always left in the bottom of your potato chip bags. Crushed potato chips make the perfect topping for this one.
I didn’t grow up eating tuna, but canned salmon was something that my mother purchased and used often. I realize that Salmon Patties were listed under lunch ideas, but Salmon Patties made a regular appearance on our dinner table when I was growing up. Usually, the patties were plated as a meat entree and served with your favorite sides.
Burrito Pie uses canned refried beans, and jarred salsa to create a family meal using only a half pound of ground beef and three tortillas. If you have access to fresh produce, you can top this pie with lettuce, tomato, avocado, sliced olives or sour cream, but it’s delicious plain, too.
Enchiladas made almost entirely from canned ingredients. These begin with canned chicken, cream of chicken soup, and diced green chiles. The addition of sour cream, cheese, and fresh (or frozen) chopped onion make these Creamy Chicken Enchiladas perfect. They’re Food Critic’s favorite.
Pork Chops Puttanesca can be prepared a day ahead and allowed to marinate. This helps the pork chops stay tender and juicy. This recipe is prepared using canned tomatoes and sliced olives. If you don’t eat pork, you can make this recipe with chicken. It’s delicious served over polenta or with buttered noodles.
I have been making this recipe for many years, and I love the simplicity. Canned clams, garlic, lemon juice, and yogurt make the sauce that is tossed with pasta. Linguine with White Clam Sauce is one of Baker’s Man’s favorites, and it’s made from canned ingredients.
Slow cooking a pork roast with onion, garlic, taco seasoning, and Rotel creates the perfect combination of flavors. That makes these Slow Cooker Shredded Pork Tacos a winner in our book.
Canned chicken and canned evaporated milk are the basis for this recipe for Chicken Linguine Alfredo. Combined with a few other spices and seasonings, you have the perfect combination of flavors. One word or warning: Because you’re using canned chicken, there are no large chunks of chicken in this dish. If your family liked large chunks of chicken in their alfredo, they might complain. My family doesn’t complain when I make this, so I’m sharing it with you.
Sum Gum is the re-creation of a recipe that my friend, Vicki, ate as a child. It was one of her favorites and it took quite a while before I perfected this dish for her, but the ingredients are simple and I consider it quarantine approved. Ground beef, canned green beans, soy sauce, and cooked rice are the base of this delicious recipe. It’s kid approved, too.
This recipe was given to me by an Octogenarian who was also an Italian grandmother. This was something she would make for her family when money was tight. Eggs were inexpensive, and topping spaghetti noodles with eggs poached in marinara sauce was a good way to fill her families stomachs without breaking the bank. She didn’t really have a name for the recipe, so we named it Poached Eggs a la Italiana.
Chicken and Dumplings is a comfort food for many people. In my household we steam drop biscuits on top of the mixture and those are our “dumplings.” My friend, Angie, over at Kitchen Hospitality prefers strips of dough that more closely resemble thick noodles. However you prepare yours, this recipe for Chicken and Dumplings made from Food Storage is delicious and makes a great base for either type of dumpling.
This sauce for this recipe was prepared with shelf stable ground beef, canned mushrooms, and canned spaghetti sauce as well as some fresh onion and garlic. Spaghetti Bolognese with Mushrooms is a delicious entree that my family is always happy to see on the menu.
Vegetable Side Dishes
Canned peas, potatoes, and milk make Creamed Peas and Potatoes a good addition to my round up of quarantine vegetable side dishes. This combination was a spring staple in my house growing up, but back then, we used fresh new potatoes and peas from the garden. This is a good substitute.
Did you know that mixing two different types of canned beans makes the perfect bean side dish or filling for burritos? That’s the basis for my Easy Beans for Burritos. Give this a try. You’ll love it.
This recipe came from my octogenarian friend, Pearl. It’s simple, delicious, and it begins with canned corn. It’s a great side dish, not just during quarantine, but when the kitchen is busy during holidays, too. Give Pearl’s Cream Style Corn a try. You’ll be glad you did.
Canned Green Beans don’t have to be tasteless. This recipe for Green Beans with Onions and Garlic is simple to prepare and adds a great deal of flavor to what would otherwise be a boring side dish.
We love sweet potatoes, and this recipe for Pineapple Sweet Potatoes is very simple to prepare. It uses only shelf stable, canned, ingredients, and it’s amazing–unless you don’t like pineapple. (Sue Chef reminded me to add that point.)
Rice isn’t exactly s vegetable side, but this recipe does contain corn, and if you choose, you could add peas, corn, or any other vegetable that you like instead of the corn. In the meantime, give our recipe for Spanish Rice with Corn a try.
If you love the flavors of the southwest, you’ll love this Southwest Style Hominy Casserole. It’s simple and delicious and uses canned hominy and canned green chilies along with sour cream and shredded cheese. If you’re out of sour cream, you can use plain yogurt instead without compromising flavor.
Technically, Cornbread isn’t a vegetable side, but it goes great with soup and chili, so it is a side dish, just not a vegetable side. Though, the meal is made from corn, which is considered a vegetable. Just saying. This version of corn bread uses a chia egg and canned milk, so it’s made entirely from pantry items. That’s a good thing.
Canned Fruit Cobbler is one of the recipes that Baker’s Man and I have been making since we were starving college students. Sometimes, he would come home from working at night, and while I slept, he would mix up one of these with whatever canned fruit we had on hand. He has even been known to make it out of fruit cocktail. This recipe is a keeper, and it works with fresh fruit, too. Here’s the recipe for this cobbler made with fresh fruit.
If you don’t have fresh milk, you can substitute canned milk, coconut milk works, too like in this version.
Chocolate Mousse Cake is as decadent as the recipe name implies, but it’s very simple to prepare. This version is made with instant pudding and canned evaporated milk along with some frozen whipped topping. This recipe is best when it’s allowed to sit in the refrigerator overnight as this allows the graham crackers to become soft. You can also substitute canned milk in the Chocolate Eclair Cake recipe.
Sometimes referred to as pistachio pudding or pistachio salad, Watergate salad has only four ingredients which includes a can of crushed pineapple. It’s simple to prepare and always devoured.
I debated whether or not I should place Five Cup Salad under the salads or the desserts. I chose desserts because it’s filled with fruit. That makes it sort of sweet. Don’t throw away the juices you drain off of the pineapple and the mandarin oranges. Instead, use it to make some…
Since we’re trying to get the most out of our food between shopping trips, it makes sense to use the juice from the pineapple and mandarin oranges that were used in the Five Cup Salad to make some Tropical Fruit Juice Tapioca. This dairy free pudding is simple and delicious, and my family loves it. It helps to get one more treat from the canned fruit.
Glorified Rice was one of my mother’s Easter side dishes. It’s simple to prepare and my children love it. If you don’t have the multi colored marshmallows use plain white ones. If you don’t like things too sweet, leave out the sugar, but I like it prepared according to the recipe. You have to try this.
This recipe for Pineapple Rice Pudding doesn’t require any milk. The juice from the canned pineapple is the only liquid needed. It’s simple to prepare and is a refreshing dessert.
Some people would call this Jello, but since I’m not sponsored to use brand names, I use the word gelatin. I try to be brand neutral unless it’s a unique product or something I truly love.
Gelatin is seriously underrated by people, but I’m here to tell you that you can make some pretty amazing desserts with it. Sometimes, all you need to add is a can of fruit. Here’s a list of some of our favorite gelatin recipes that are made from shelf stable ingredients.
These recipes require the addition of cottage cheese or other dairy, but they’re delicious, and they will use up some of those cans of fruit in your pantry.
- Cran-Raspberry Gelatin Salad
- Lemon Gelatin Fruit Salad
- Orange Fluff Gelatin Salad
- Pineapple Lime Fluff
- Cranberry-Orange Yogurt Salad
The recipes in this section don’t contain any canned food, but that doesn’t mean that they should be excluded from this post.
If you purchased a bunch of cake mixes, you don’t need to turn them into cakes. Cake mix cookies are simple to prepare and since the base recipe is only three ingredients, it’s a simple and fun activity that you can do with your children. Since there’s only one ingredient’s to measure, it’s something you can do without feeling overwhelmed.
Below are links to the variations on this recipe:
- Devil’s Food Cookies with White Chocolate and Macadamia Nuts
- Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- M&M Cookies
- Lemon Crinkle Cookies
- Lemon Blueberry Cookies
- Oatmeal Raisin Spice Cookies
- Red Velvet White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Peppermint Mocha Cookies
Just in case anyone reading this post is gluten free, or has a gluten free family member, let me share with you my favorite gluten free cookie recipes. I love these recipes because they don’t require any weird ingredients.
If your gluten free family member is allergic to peanuts, these cookies can also be made with almond butter.
I realize that it may seem wrong to include a selection of candy recipes in a list for quarantine cooking, but sweet treats are, in my opinion, comfort foods. These recipes are prepared using entirely shelf stable ingredients, and if you picked up sweetened condensed milk and have chocolate, or butterscotch or peanut butter, chips on hand, you have practically everything you need to whip up some Five Minute Fudge that will impress your family.
I refer to this recipe as my “Christmas Fudge” because of the cranberries and pecans. If you don’t have orange essential oil, you can use 1/2 teaspoon of orange, lemon, or vanilla extract.
I love the combination of chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts. This Rocky Road Fudge if made from canned Sweetened Condensed Milk, so I think that makes it a good addition to this list.
This is our original fudge recipe that begins with a can sweetened condensed milk. It’s quick and easy which is a good thing in our opinion.
I have lots of dessert recipes on this site.
As I was scrolling through these links, I realized that the dessert section was much bigger than any of the other categories. I don’t think this is a bad thing. People who are working from home, homeschooling their children, and rarely going out, might need some sweets to help them cope with the stress. Of course, there are other ways to cope with stress.
The liquor section in most of the stores in our area was still pretty well stocked, so that’s an option. Personally, I prefer to eat desserts.
If you’re worried about gaining weight, I apologize for all the dessert recipes, but I still think that dessert, in moderation, is a good thing. Besides, there are lots of healthy, lower calorie recipes listed, too. We have eleven soups on our site that are under 250 calories per serving.
I sincerely hope that this list helps you to figure out what to do with some of the canned ingredients in your homes, especially those of you who aren’t accustomed to using them. Leave a comment to let us know if we were any help.
What are your favorite recipes that use canned foods? Do you have any? Which of the recipes listed above looks the most interesting to you?
Let us know the answers to these questions by leaving a comment below. Stay safe and healthy.
Thanks for Visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.