Pantry Chili

RECIPE #259, DAY #395


ORIGINAL RECIPE: Experimentation and a knowledge of chili-making*

TIMING: 30 minutes

DIFFICULTY: Easy enough

TOOLS: Pretty much just something to chop with and a soup pot. If you are camping, you need a fire-safe pot and something to set it on, as well as a long spoon and an oven mitt.

COOK TYPE: Stove or campfire

DSC_0166HEALTH: This is a hearty, healthy, well-rounded meal which is super handy for survival-type situations, like camping or a week that’s been too busy to get to the grocery store. The noodles bring it down a notch, but cornbread (instead of the pasta) would elevate it, once again.

DSC_0165EXPERIENCE: I always love to have a few “pantry” recipes on hand, which means a recipe that can be made entirely with what I have in the pantry. There are things I keep stocked especially for nights when I need them, like this pantry chili, my Bean and Cheese Dinner, and a few others. Then I figured, pantry dinners would be the perfect thing to adapt to camping, since keeping things refrigerated is always an issue.

So after a few tries, here is the perfect (and vegetarian) low-refrigeration, campfire dinner. To make it no-refrigeration, just omit the pasta and serve with a bread of some sort.

DSC_0164NOTES: Other possible additions include a couple tablespoons of cornmeal, a squeeze of tomato paste, some roasted red peppers, canned chilies, or other types of beans, like kidney. Of course, if you are anti-vegetarian, you can complicate the whole process by bringing along a pound of meat in a cooler and browning that with the veggies.

Also feel free to add in any leftover coffee you have from breakfast. That would make it more authentic and also delectable.

This feeds more than four people, really.


  1. In a small zip-top baggie, mix together 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons granulated garlic, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper. Seal up and set aside for your trip.
  2. When you’re ready for suppertime, dice up 1 onion and 1 sweet potato. In a pot over your fire, saute veggies in 2 tablespoons safflower oil until onion is translucent. Add the contents of your spice pouch and stir for 1-2 minutes.
  3. To the veggies, add 1 small jar salsa, 15 ounce can roasted tomatoes (with chilies if you like it hot), 15 ounce can tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups water (or a can-full), 15 ounce can drained sweet corn, 15 ounce can drained black beans, and a 15 ounce can drained pinto beans. Stir and allow to simmer as long as you would like to meld the flavors and allow the sweet potato to soften.

Serve with bread, cornbread, or a zipper bag filled with pre-made macaroni, and your mess kit.

*Recipe has been changed from the original.


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