Buying fresh fruits, vegetables, and groceries is an important step toward eating healthy at home. But, these foods don’t last long in the fridge. That’s why it’s super important to have lots of healthy pantry staples. Canned, dried, and frozen foods are loaded with nutrients and flavor. Plus, they last for a long time, so you always have something nutritious on hand. Read about these healthy pantry staples below so you can add them to your shopping list today.
Why Stock The Pantry?
A well-stocked pantry is like a painting palette filled with every color of the rainbow. Every item opens up a new door of culinary possibilities. So, the more items you have, the more versatility and inspiration you can find to cook at home.
Keeping essential ingredients on hand is a great way to encourage home cooking. And, eating home-cooked meals does more than save you money. It can actually support your health. Research shows that people who eat at home often are more likely to:
- Consume fewer calories
- Improve the quality of their diet
- Lose weight
- Reduce their risk of developing diabetes1</sup
A great way to encourage and support lots of home cooking is to have a stocked pantry. Learn how to get started below.
Starting Your Pantry
Your pantry extends beyond that old spice rack in the closet. Think of it as all the food that you can store and use for future use. This includes ingredients you have stashed in the freezer or dried goods in the cabinet. They are the essential staples that will last for long periods of time.
And, these things don’t need to just collect dust. The items below are common ingredients in many recipes. They can bring a meal together or oftentimes be the meal itself. Tony Horton would agree that having them on-hand can make your life in the kitchen easier and your food tastier.
A Healthy Diet Starts With Healthy Ingredients
Making healthy food choices doesn’t stop in the produce aisle. There are lots of healthy pantry staples that come in cans, jars, bags, and even frozen packages.
But, you want to choose the right foods to add to your pantry. When you make healthy pantry choices, lots of storable food has just as much nutritional value as fresh food.2
The items below are high on nutrition and a great addition to any healthy pantry. Check them out and add them to your next shopping list.
Healthy Carbs To Always Stock
You probably always want to have some pasta and rice on stand-by. They can be the foundation for a great meal. But, there are whole-grain carbs that can be healthier than commonly enriched carbs.
Quinoa is a complete protein and a very popular wheat alternative. It is not technically a grain, but it makes a great substitute for rice and other popular starches.
You can serve it in the morning like oatmeal or as a side with some fish. It’s full of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. This makes it great for a gluten-free or vegan diet.3
Additionally, there are all sorts of pasta made from quinoa flour, so you can make your favorite Italian recipes gluten-free.
Brown rice is a whole grain. That means that it has all three parts of the grain kernel, whereas white rice only has one. This makes it richer in iron and fiber. It is a great way to boost the nutritional value of your next meal.4
If you are looking for a healthy alternative to those morning pastries, look no further. Oats are full of fiber and nutrients that can lower cholesterol. They are quick to prepare and leave you feeling full for long periods of time. Plus, they can live in the pantry for a long time, which means they’re always on hand for your morning breakfasts.5
Great Canned Ingredients To Keep On Hand
Canned vegetables and ingredients have lots of nutritional value and great shelf-lives. Keep your pantry stocked with these basics to jumpstart your favorite healthy meals.
Tomatoes are typically canned at peak ripeness. That means they are still full of nutrients like vitamin C and fiber.6 Plus, all that sun-ripened flavor lasts until you pop the top of the can.
Armed with a can of tomatoes, you can quickly turn out a plate of pasta or a hearty soup. They make just about anything taste better.
No kitchen should be without coconut milk. This rich and tasty substance comes from the white, meaty part of the coconut. You can add it to a curry dish or soup for a rich and smooth flavor that’s full of nutrition. Coconut milk is rich in healthy fats that can actually help with weight loss and cholesterol levels.7
Beans are one of the most popular canned products around. There is a huge variety of beans that you can buy canned – green beans, pinto, garbanzos – and that’s only naming a few. The more you have on hand, the more cooking options you have.
Throw them in your favorite soups or serve them as a healthy side. Canned beans contain all sorts of nutrients like protein and fiber.8 Just be sure to choose beans that do not have added sodium or sugar. These tend to be less healthy.9
Healthy Oils And Spreads
Oil is a kitchen essential. You need it to prevent food from sticking to cookware and to add flavor to things. Almost every recipe calls for oil or butter of some kind. So, it’s a good idea to always have some healthy oils on hand.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
No healthy kitchen pantry is complete without extra virgin olive oil. It tastes great on a salad or in your favorite pasta sauce. Best of all, it’s incredibly healthy. Olive oil is full of beneficial fatty acids.10 These nutritional qualities support heart health and healthy cholesterol levels.11
If you love to bake, then coconut oil is a great item to stock in your larder. You can use it as a butter substitute in all sorts of recipes. It’s a healthy source of fat that actually supports levels of healthy cholesterol and weight loss.12
Peanut butter and other nut butters are great items to have on hand. You can throw them on a piece of toast or add them to a smoothie. They are a great source of protein and last for a long time on the shelf. Just make sure to check the sugar content on the label.13
A healthy cook can still have a sweet tooth, so long as you choose healthy sweets. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy ways to satisfy the craving for sugar. You can find a few below.
Maple syrup tastes great on more than pancakes. You can add it to baked goods or even drizzle it over your morning oats. It works great as a sugar substitute because it has a lower glycemic value than cane sugar. Plus, it’s a natural source of vitamins like zinc and potassium. Just make sure to only consume it in moderation since it is still sugar.14
A couple of jars of dried mango, cranberries, or peaches can provide you with the perfect, sweet snack. And, they can add a dash of sweetness to baked goods in place of sugar. But, the best part is that dried fruit provides you with lots of fiber and important antioxidants. Just be careful – some dried fruits are loaded with added sugar. Reach for those labeled “zero added sugar”.15
Ideas For The Freezer
Your freezer can act as an extension of the food pantry. Frozen vegetables and fruits often have just as much nutrition to offer as their fresh counterparts, especially if they are frozen at peak ripeness.16
Frozen veggies in the freezer mean you will always have ingredients for a quick stir-fry. And, frozen fruits ensure that you can always blend up your favorite smoothie recipe.
Keep a few of these items frozen so that you always have the ingredients you need for a quick and healthy meal at any time.
Healthy Pantry Staples – Essential Kitchen Building Blocks
The cornerstone of the kitchen is the pantry. This is true for the most seasoned chef and for a first-time cook alike. It’s where you keep items that don’t require refrigeration. That means they will always be there for you to bring together a healthy, home-cooked meal.
Write out your list and pick up some of these healthy pantry staples today. There are lots of canned, frozen, and dried ingredients that taste great and are good for you. You don’t need to worry about using them right away. They will wait patiently on the shelf until you need them to complete your culinary masterpiece.