Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Having a pantry, fridge and/or freezer stocked with healthy food items is about setting yourself up for success. Along with meal planning, creating a kitchen environment that supports your healthy eating goals is important. It’s like doing the work before the work, if you know what I mean. You plan the meals and then shop for the ingredients, or plan your meals based off what you have in your house, and then when it comes time to eat it’s easier to make the healthy choice because you are prepared.
Still, I sometimes get the urge to screw my meal plan and order pizza for supper. But what often happens is I will think about the meal I had planned, the meat I already have thawing in the fridge, and the ingredients I specifically bought for that recipe. Then the cherry on top is remembering how much money we save by cooking at home. That usually does it. Not always, and it’s okay to order pizza sometimes too, but for us it’s rare. Having a plan in place (my week’s meal plan) and a supportive environment (my pantry and fridge stocked with healthy ingredients) makes it easier to stick to my goals.
Everyone’s pantry/fridge/freezer should look a little different because we all have different needs, goals and preferences. My pantry fits my cooking style, and our household needs and goals. Below I have listed my healthy pantry staples, including fridge and freezer. These are things I try to keep on hand most of the time. I am still learning the balance between being prepared, and not over-stocking. I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but if you’re just looking for somewhere to start, I hope you find this helpful. Click the links on the food items to see a recipe that uses that ingredient.
Similarly, take note of what’s not listed here. Having a pantry full of Kraft Dinner and Oreos isn’t setting you up for success either. It’s important to both HAVE healthy ingredients handy and NOT HAVE a bunch of less healthy foods handy.
Lots of spices.
Canned crushed tomatoes. I use these all the time in place of pasta sauce, tomato soup (in casseroles) or enchilada sauce. Just add your own seasoning. In the case of using it as a sauce, I let it simmer for a while to reduce the acidity. It’s an easy way to add more vegetables to a dish. Plus, they’re very inexpensive.
Canned and dry beans (kidney, black, chickpeas, mixed.)
Canned and dry lentils.
Canned mushrooms. Another easy way to add more nutrients, flavour and texture to a dish.
Canned tuna. You can always grab one to make tuna sandwiches or salad for an easy, healthy meal.
Whole grain pasta. I usually try to keep one package of whole grain pasta on hand for an easy meal (combine with crushed tomatoes, add spices and meat of choice.) You can also add a handful of cooked spiral pasta to a lettuce salad to make it more filling.
Oats (regular and steel cut)
Oil. Extra virgin olive oil is my preference.
Vinegars (white, balsamic, and apple cider)
Onions and garlic.
Sweet or white potatoes.
Healthy flour. Whole wheat, spelt, oat, all of the above or whatever your preference is!
Oats. Listing it again because I use them in a lot of baking.
Vanilla. To make everything taste better.
Chocolate chips. Also to make everything taste better.
Baking powder and baking soda.
Sweetener(s) of choice
Seeds. I like to have chia, flax, sunflower, and sesame seeds around for making granola and energy bites.
Nuts. Pecans, almonds and walnuts are pretty universal so I try to have one of those on hand.
Oil. Something less strong than olive oil.
Flavour drops. I’ve been really enjoying putting this in my Iced Lattes!
Note: Be sure to check out some of your local bulk stores. You can sometimes buy pantry items in bulk for a better price than at grocery stores. I wish it hadn’t taken me 3.5 years to figure that out.
Energy bites. They should be stored in the fridge, but are made with pantry ingredients.
Popcorn. My favourite weekend, high volume snack!
Popcorn seasoning. Right now our favourite is Cheddar Ranch.
Lettuce and/or spinach. If my lettuce is washed and chopped I’m more likely to eat salad.
Salad Dressings. Because you can’t have a salad without dressing if you ask me.
Plain Greek Yogourt. Great protein snack, and I use it instead of sour cream in recipes.
Natural Peanut Butter.
Milk. We use 1% cow’s milk but you should do what’s best for you.
Maple Syrup. I add some to plain greek yogourt, and use it in other breakfast or snack foods.
Iced Latte Concentrate (for a healthier, cheaper iced latte)
Condiments (mustard, relish, ketchup, mayo, hot sauce, pickles etc)
Eggs. We eat a lot of eggs for breakfast, and they are useful in baking.
Energy Bites. One of my favourite sweet snacks.
There you have it! I hope you find this helpful. What are your favourite healthy pantry staples?