Last-Minute Meals from the Pantry

Pantry StaplesHaving a few pantry staples on hand can help you jump-start a spontaneous meal in no time. Head to the grocery store and make sure you have these in your shopping cart:

Beans - Great for side dishes, salads, or in pasta.
Rice - Easy and versatile side dish.
Pasta - Quick main dish with simple stir-ins such as chopped cooked chicken and pasta sauce.
Baking mix - Make quick breads, biscuits, or crusts for casseroles.
Potatoes and onions - Versatile veggies that add flavor and substance.
Cream soups - Great for casseroles.
Pasta sauce - Stir into hot cooked pasta for a super-quick meal.
Canned tomatoes - Use in everything from casseroles to pasta.
Broths - Make quick sauces and soups.
Canned tuna - Stir into pasta and salads, or make a creamy spread for a sandwich.

Related: Quick-Fix Suppers from the Pantry

Then, get to work on a top-rated dinner that's big on flavor but comes together in no time, like Baked Chicken and Rice with Black Beans. Save time by opening a can of fiber-rich black beans and stir them straight into this cheesy rice bake. The recipe combines beans with convenience yellow rice mix, cooked chicken, canned tomatoes, canned chiles (to add a kick), and shredded cheese. Sautéed veggies add a fresh taste to the mixture.

Baked Chicken and Rice RecipeBaked Chicken and Rice with Black Beans
Makes 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 (10-oz.) package yellow rice mix
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) grated Monterey Jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare rice according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, sauté onion, bell pepper, and carrot in hot oil in a medium skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until tender.
3. Combine hot cooked rice, onion mixture, chicken, beans, diced tomatoes and chiles, and 1 1/2 cups cheese in a large bowl. Spoon into a lightly greased 3-qt. or 13- x 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Southern Living October 2012 Related Articles from Southern Living:
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