• Erin Sheehan

Grocery Guides: Pantry Staples

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Whether you’re new to cooking or consider yourself an expert, having a stocked kitchen is key to creating healthy meals. If you don’t have the basics stocked, chances are you’ll end up ordering take out more than you’d planned.

Here are some staples we always have on hand in the kitchen...

Cooking Oils

When cooking at high temperatures, it’s best to choose an oil that has a high smoke point. The smoke point is the point at which oils begin to break down and visibly produce smoke. Here are our favorites:

Avocado Oil | Smoke Point: 500-520F

Uses: sautéing, pan frying, roasting, grilling

Extra Virgin Olive Oil | Smoke Point: 325-375F

Uses: sautéing, finishing dishes, dressings and marinades, baking

Ghee | Smoke Point: 450F

Uses: sautéing, pan frying, baking, roasting

Coconut Oil | Smoke Point: 350-385F

Uses: sautéing, pan frying, baking, roasting

Whole Grains and Legumes

Keeping a list of non-perishables on hand can be a life saver in the kitchen, especially protein and fiber filled options like these...

  • Quinoa. Filled with fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and plant-based protein, quinoa takes less than 20 minutes to make and can be thrown into literally any meal - tacos, burrito bowls, salads, soups, or veggie burgers. Most instructions call for cooking quinoa in water, but chicken or vegetable broth will give it more flavor!

  • Lentils. If you haven’t hopped on the lentil train yet, give it a try ASAP! One cup of cooked lentils offers about 16 grams of fiber. Lentils are also packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. They can be ready in less than 20 minutes and thrown into soups and salads.

  • Beans. If you aren’t a fan of soaking dried beans overnight, canned beans work in recipes just as well. They’re super affordable, full of fiber and protein, and can be thrown into soups, chili, salads, bowls, quesadillas, or pureed into dips. Tip: Drain and rinse canned beans in a colander to get rid of extra sodium.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a major staple in our kitchens! If you aren’t going to eat them right away, store nuts and seeds in the refrigerator to prevent them from going rancid.

  • Nut Butter. Keep nut butter on hand in pouches for satiating snacks on the go or use it from the jar to top toast, oatmeal, or add to smoothies. Look for ones with minimal ingredients and no added sugars - ideally just the preferred nut and some sea salt!

  • Nuts. These are great for snacking on the go or topping a salad with. Look for raw or dry roasted! Roasted nuts are sometimes roasted in unhealthy oils that add unnecessary fat to a naturally fatty snack.

  • Chia, Flax, and Pumpkin Seeds. All three of these nutritious seeds can be found in our pantries at any given time. Chia and flax add fiber and healthy fats to smoothies, salads, yogurt bowls, and oatmeal. Pumpkin seeds can be thrown into smoothies, salads, or eaten as a snack and are loaded with zinc - important for immune and metabolism function! Toast pumpkin seeds in a skillet and throw them in a salad. You’ll be hooked!

  • Hemp Hearts. Have you heard of these little powerhouses? If you haven’t, listen up! They contain 10 grams of plant based protein in 3 tablespoons. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. We’re talking vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc. They can be added to your diet in many ways, including as a homemade nut milk that doesn’t require using a cheesecloth. Find out two creative ways Registered Dietitian, Rachael DeVaux uses hemp seeds here.

Dried Herbs and Spices

Dried herbs and spices can enhance the flavor of a healthy meal without adding excess sugar, fat, or calories. A stocked spice cabinet means you’re prepared to make your own spice blends for marinades, dressings, soups, taco meat, and basically anything else you can think of. Cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder are some of our faves.

Did anyone else grow up on those taco kits that came with the pre-mixed taco seasoning? Most of those store-bought seasoning packets contain ingredients like fillers, sugar, and vegetable oils. Try collecting glass jars to make and store your own like this recipe from the The Real Food Dietitians.

Canned Foods

  • Tomatoes. There are many different varieties of canned tomatoes such as crushed, diced, or pureed tomatoes and tomato paste. Always having these on hand will make throwing together pasta sauces, soups, chilis, and stews easy! Look for low sodium options so you can control how much salt you add to the meal.

  • Tuna and Salmon. Keeping these on hand makes for a quick and healthy lunch option. Just mix with some avocado oil mayonnaise, season how you like, add a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and you’re good to go. Be sure to look for brands that practice sustainability and have high safety standards.

  • Sardines. We may have lost some of you with this one. If you’re looking to get a hefty dose of nutrition in one meal, sardines are where it’s at! They’re rich in b vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin D, and calcium. You can incorporate them into your diet in the same way you might make tuna salad. However, we dare you to take it a step further and serve them at your next dinner party or girls night! Serve straight from the tin with fresh lemon wedges, sliced baguette, and some horseradish.

  • Chicken, Beef, or Vegetable Broth. Broths can be used for making soups and cooking quinoa or lentils. Opt for low-sodium and add salt to each dish to your liking.

Download our pantry staples list here:

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