Snowed In! 12 Dinner Ideas You Can Make with What You Have in the Pantry/Fridge

12 Dinner Ideas you can make with what you have in your pantry or fridge - Triple Chocolate Kitchen

We just got 8+ inches of snow here in Norfolk, Virginia. I don’t mind too much, since it only happens every few years and I didn’t have anywhere to go anyway. 🙂

We actually did go grocery shopping yesterday (we had planned to go because it was Jeffrey’s day off), and the lines were pretty crazy. They were out of bread, but luckily I had some at home. We stocked up on a few essentials and also bought the ingredients needed for this week’s dinners.

I hate to buy too much food that needs refrigeration or freezing because you never know if the power will go out when a big blizzard hits. I mean, luckily you can put your food outside to save as much as possible, but still… it is easier if your fridge at least is on the empty side.

If you find yourself snowed in and need to whip up dinner with what you have in your pantry and fridge already, here are a few of my favorite suggestions, with some ways to substitute if you don’t have all the ingredients you need:

If you have ground beef…

  • Korean Beef
    • ground beef (you can use strips of beef instead)
    • brown sugar (use white sugar if you must)
    • soy sauce (this is key… you can’t really substitute the soy sauce!)
    • minced garlic (use a sprinkle of powdered if you have no minced)
    • olive oil (another kind of oil will do)
    • ginger (fresh or powdered, whatever you have)
    • red chili pepper flakes (leave out if you don’t have any)
    • green onions (leave out if you don’t have any)
    • sesame seeds (leave out if you don’t have any)
    • I typically serve with rice, but you could serve with noodles instead or even mashed potatoes in a pinch
  • Cheeseburger Pasta
    • ground beef (or use ground sausage or even leftover chicken)
    • velveeta cheese (or another kind of melty cheese – if using shredded cheese, you might need to add more milk and a little butter)
    • milk (out of milk? use heavy cream if you have some, watered down a little)
    • pasta (any variety will do)
  • Oven Baked Tacos
    • ground beef
    • small onion (leave out if you don’t have one, sprinkle with a little onion powder)
    • taco seasoning (you can make your own if you don’t have any – here’s how)
    • tomato sauce (make a substitute by blending some canned tomatoes with a pinch of sugar and a sprinkle onion powder and garlic powder)
    • refried beans (make a substitute by cooking some canned pinto beans with a pinch of garlic, a teaspoon each of cumin and chili powder, and a splash of lime juice if you have it, then mashing with a fork)
    • shredded cheese (you can leave it out… but these are SO much better with cheese!)
    • hard taco shells (you can make some if you don’t have any – first use these directions to make tortillas, then use these directions to turn them into crunchy shells)
    • whatever taco toppings you have in the house (lettuce, sour cream, etc.)

If you have chicken…

  • Sour Cream Chicken
    • chicken breast tenders (or cut large chicken breasts into strips)
    • sour cream (can substitute mayo or even plain yogurt in a pinch)
    • parmasan cheese (or another hard cheese, grated)
    • panko bread crumbs (use regular or seasoned bread crumbs in a pinch or even crush up some pretzels)
  • BBQ Chicken Quesadillas
  • Buffalo Chicken Ring
    • shredded chicken (cook and shred any cut of chicken or you can also use turkey)
    • cream cheese (this is a must for this recipe, would be hard to sub out)
    • buffalo wing sauce (you can make your own by combining a cup each of butter and hot sauce over medium heat, then adding in some garlic powder to taste)
    • crescent rolls (yes, you can make your own if needed… here are directions– you’ll need yeast, sugar, water, butter, milk, eggs, salt, and flour to make your own)
    • celery (you can leave out if you don’t have any)
    • ranch dressing (optional)

If you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel…

  • You can make your own pasta! All you need is flour, salt, eggs and olive oil. (Here’s how to do it.) Once you have the pasta made, you can use any jar of sauce or make your use with some canned or fresh tomatoes. You can also whip up a cheese sauce pretty easily with some butter, milk, and cheese.
  • Omelets are a great option. All you need are eggs + whatever you have in the fridge. Think leftover meat, lunch meat, shredded cheese, bacon bits, diced onion or leek, peppers… again, whatever you have!
  • Pancakes are awesome too (in case omelets are not your thing). All you need for pancakes are flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, milk, egg, and butter. If you don’t have syrup in the house, try serving with a drizzle of honey. You can also use a little water, sugar, and frozen fruit to make a fruit topping. Just cook together and mash slightly so the fruit breaks down, easy-peasy.
  • Smoothies are a great nutritious snack or even fun meal replacement. Use whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have in the house. A great smoothie is just a base (milk, juice, coffee, water, etc), fruit, and a sweetener if desired. Bananas and yogurt are great additives to thicken a smoothie, and don’t be afraid to add spinach or kale if you have it in the house to add some more nutrients.
  • Breakfast sausage can become a more substantial meal. If you have those frozen or fresh links, open them up and use the sausage like you would hamburger in almost any recipe. I also sometimes fry up sausage, then melt some butter, add a little flour to create a roux, and finally add milk and some seasonings. Spoon over biscuits (homemade, English muffins, crescent rolls… whatever I have) for a yummy sausage gravy meal.
  • Soup is always a winner. You can make soup with just about anything you have in your fridge. Go creamy with potato, corn, etc. Use up veggies you have in the fridge or freeze. Thrown in a can of this or a can of that. Add some beans, pasta, or rice to make it more substantial. If you have a pot and any random ingredients, you can make soup!

Okay, those are my 12 ideas… comment below with your favorite dinner ideas when you’re snowed in and need to use whatever you have in the pantry/fridge.

The following two tabs change content below.
Allison is one of the co-founders here at The PinterTest Kitchen. She also works as a content marketing consultant and freelance writer - find out more at

3 thoughts on “Snowed In! 12 Dinner Ideas You Can Make with What You Have in the Pantry/Fridge

  1. We got about 9 inches and were stuck inside all day. I made a broccoli lasagna. Somehow I forgot to get eggs on my last trip to the grocery store — never a good thing before a snow-in. Fortunately, I’m venturing back out today and roads plowed by hearty heroes in the wee hours last night!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *