By Eryn Carter on May 12, 2020

10 Pantry Staples for Eating Healthy

Recommendations from a registered dietitian

woman at home looking at pantry items with basket

Whether you’re caught in the middle of a pandemic or too busy to make it to the grocery store, shelf stable food items are a kitchen must. The convenience of having items in your pantry for several weeks can provide dinner in a pinch, that extra something in your bowl of oatmeal or a snack you eat here or there. While a bag of potato chips falls into this category, there are healthier options that nourish the body while also providing the same convenience. Here are my top 10 healthy grocery items to keep on hand:

  1. Nut butter primarily provides fats that keep you fuller longer. Peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter are all great options. Some nut butter products are full of unnecessary saturated fats and sugar. Read ingredient labels and choose products with the nut of choice as the only ingredient.
  2. Canned tuna is a great way to keep a lean, ready-to-eat protein on hand. Try buying tuna in water rather than oil to lower fat content. Use tuna on salads, in casseroles, with whole wheat crackers or mix with Greek yogurt for a healthier tuna salad.
  3. Whole nuts  give healthy fats and protein in a single handful. Walnuts, pecans, cashews and almonds are all great options. Choose nuts that are lightly salted or with no salt added. Pair with dark chocolate chips, cheese or fresh fruit for an easy and filling snack.
  4. Chia seeds are a source of healthy fat and fiber, aiding in digestion and heart health. Add these into smoothies, yogurt bowls or oatmeal for easy added nutrition.
  5. Oats are filled with heart-healthy soluble fiber that helps to bind cholesterol. Use them traditionally as a breakfast food or try making homemade granola using oats, spices and a natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup.
  6. Popcorn is a great shelf stable item that adds bulk to mid-afternoon or after dinner snacks. This whole grain can be mixed with whole nuts to satisfy between meals. Try looking for options without added salt and butter.
  7. Canned vegetables are great to have on hand when you need produce in a pinch. Canned fruits and vegetables have similar nutrient content to fresh, but the extended shelf life helps eliminate waste and potentially saves money. Look for cans with reduced or no added sodium.
  8. Quinoa is a great addition to any meal. Filled with fiber and protein, this whole grain goes well as a side dish, mixed in a casserole or as the base of a create-your-own power bowl. Top with roasted vegetables and a protein for a satisfying meal.
  9. Black beans are another food loaded with fiber to keep the digestive system moving and aid in heart health by binding with cholesterol. Their high protein content also makes them a great addition. Add with the mentioned above quinoa, salsa and cheese for a quick, satisfying meal.
  10. Whole grain crackers are a great quick and easy option to have on hand. Pair this fibrous food with nut butter or cheese for a filling snack, dipped in tuna salad or as a crushed topping on a black bean and quinoa bowl.
  • Eryn Carter

    Eryn Carter

    Eryn is a Kansas raised Registered Dietitian who is passionate about food from farm to table. She believes nutrition begins at the root and values agriculture for aiding the public in having a well-balanced diet.