Pantry Essentials for Customizing Your Sunbasket Meals

A Sunbasket meal is more than just a great recipe. Think of it as a bag of groceries that you can use to make lots of different meals. The ingredients for a salad can become a taco, while stir-fry can be turned into a warming soup. We sat down with Executive Chef Justine Kelly and Executive R&D Chef Alan Li to get some suggestions on their favorite basket hacks. The two offered a list of 10 pantry ingredients for making any Sunbasket meal something new.

Chile sauce (Sambal Oelek or Sriracha)

There’s no chef’s secret when it comes to hot sauce. It’s just an easy way to add flavor and complexity to a simple meal.
  • Season eggs, soups, or tacos.
  • Add to mayonnaise or Greek yogurt for a slightly spicy dip.
  • Add a teaspoon to marinades, sauces, and salad dressings for a little kick.

Corn tortillas

With fresh tortillas on hand, you can make any night taco night.
  • This week, turn leftover chili or taco fixings into chilaquiles. Cut tortillas into triangles and lightly fry, cover with any leftover chili and top with fried eggs and you have a seriously crowd-pleasing breakfast.
  • Warm leftovers and toss with scrambled eggs, then wrap in warm tortillas for breakfast tacos. Or skip the eggs and make tacos or quesadillas with the remainder of last night’s dinner.


“Put an egg on it” are words we live by.
  • Add soft-cooked eggs to pasta, soups, and salads.
  • Crack a raw egg on top of a flatbread before baking.
  • Turn a quinoa grain bowl into fritters by adding a lightly beaten egg to cooked quinoa and mashed cauliflower.

Grains, such as rice (jasmine, basmati, brown), millet, and barley; quinoa; and buckwheat

Grain bowls are trendy for a reason. Think of them as a blank canvas for whatever ingredients you have on hand.
  • Cook up a pot of rice or quinoa and top it with the leftover taco or salad ingredients. Alternatively, if you have some protein and vegetables leftover from your dinner, turn that into a grain bowl.
  • Toss rice or other grains into soups and salads for some added bulk.

Healthy fats and proteins (nuts, canned beans, frozen edamame, and lentils)

Stretch leftovers from a Sunbasket meal by adding good-for-you fats and proteins that keep you feeling full longer.
  • Toss beans or lentils and toasted almonds with leftover lettuce cup ingredients.
  • Fats and proteins add texture and variety to soups, salads, and vegetarian or vegan stews.

Long-lasting fresh ingredients (garlic, onions, shallots, ginger, lemons, and limes)

Some of the simplest ingredients, like garlic and onion, can dramatically boost flavor in many dishes and will keep in the pantry for up to a month.
  • Ginger stays fresh for months in the freezer. Grate it and add it to soups, cooked greens, and salad dressings.
  • Keep a few lemons and limes in the crisper drawer to add a squeeze of lime to tacos or a bit of lemon zest to pasta dishes.

Rice noodles and/or rice paper

We love the flavors and versatility of Asian ingredients. Quick-cooking rice noodles and rice paper are a great way to stretch a stir-fry or turn dinner into an easy, on-the-go lunch.
  • Use rice paper to make many of our Asian-inspired recipes into spring rolls and use the dressing or sauce as a dip. Or serve over rice noodles for a Vietnamese-style bun cha lunch.

Umami ingredients (liquid aminos like coconut and Bragg’s, miso, tomato paste, kimchi, Parmesan, and porcini powder)

Umami is one of the essential tastes that form the foundation of flavor. It’s sometimes described as “meaty,” which is why umami-rich ingredients are often used in vegetarian recipes.
  • Add a teaspoon of porcini powder to stews or Parmesan rind to soups.
  • Top a rice bowl with some funky kimchi.
  • Whisk miso into melted butter and toss the butter with roasted vegetables.

Vegetable or chicken broth

The obvious reason for keeping stock on hand is to turn meals into a soup or stew, but it’s also a great substitute for water in many recipes.
  • Turn lettuce cups or dinner salads into a soup and side salad.
  • Cook rice and other grains in broth rather than water by swapping out the suggested amount of water for broth and you’ll give your meal a boost of flavor.

Vinegars (sherry, rice, and white/red wine) and lemon juice

Acids, like citrus juice and vinegar, can go a long way to bring the flavors of a dish into focus.
  • Use sherry vinegar to brighten soups and stews.
  • Toss thinly sliced cucumbers in rice vinegar and sugar for quick pickles.
  • Add a splash of white-wine vinegar to oven fries for some salt-and-vinegar tang.