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8 Healthy Foods to Stock in Your Pantry

We're all making fewer trips to the supermarket these days. But even if the pandemic has you cooking more and shopping less often, you can still put together a healthy meal from your pantry if you have the right foods on hand.

Stocking your pantry with healthy staples makes cooking faster and easier. With these versatile foods, you can pull together meals without making a trip to the store. Pair these budget-friendly essentials with any refrigerated or frozen meats and vegetables you have on hand and you'll have a nourishing meal at your fingertips.

  • Beans and Chickpeas – Up the nutrition of meals without adding fat by using high fiber, protein-rich and inexpensive beans or chickpeas. Canned varieties are a quick go-to healthy ingredient but be sure to rinse and drain thoroughly to reduce sodium.
  • Whole Grains – Brown rice, quinoa and multi-grain pasta are healthy foundations for many dishes such as salads, grain bowls, soups and stews. They are packed with fiber and some grains like quinoa provide plant-based protein to boot. These complex carbohydrates digest slowly to keep you full longer.
  • Canned Tomatoes – Whole, diced, crushed or puréed, canned tomatoes are a base for quick pasta sauces, skillet meals and salsas. They add flavor without fat and you can always opt for low-sodium varieties.
  • Nuts, Nut Butters and Seeds – Loaded with protein, fiber and healthy fat, nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, flaxseed, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds make a great addition to smoothies, oatmeal, breakfast bowls and salads. When purchasing nut butters, steer clear of "reduced fat" varieties to avoid added sugars and fillers.
  • Reduced-Sodium Broths – Beef, chicken and vegetable broths are a great low-fat and low-calorie base for soups and stews. You can also use broth to add flavor to casseroles, rice and mashed potatoes. Broth is often high in sodium, so choose reduced- or low-sodium options when available.
  • Olive Oil – High in antioxidants and unsaturated fats, this oil is essential for sautéing, dressings and marinades. It can even be used in some baking. Virgin olive oil works for most cooking needs. Save the pricier extra-virgin varieties for dressings.
  • Vinegars – Liven up sauces, dressings and marinades without a lot of calories or sodium by adding balsamic, red wine or apple cider vinegar.
  • Dried Herbs and Spices – Add flavor without sodium or sugar by using herbs and spices. When using dried instead of fresh, cut the quantity in half since dried herbs and spices are more potent than fresh.

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Date Last Reviewed: May 5, 2020
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN
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