Whether it’s just a small cabinet or an entire room, our pantry shelves can be real lifesavers and miracle weapons when it comes to cooking delicious and healthy meals! That’s why today’s post is all about how to stock your pantry and which food is essential for any pantry. So, without any further ado, let’s dive right into it!
- Do you know that feeling?
- How to Stock Your Pantry
- Recipe Ideas with Healthy Pantry Essentials
- Printable Healthy Pantry Essentials PDF Guide
Do you know that feeling?
I think we all know that feeling when we come home in the evening and we’re just completely wiped out. Then you open the fridge and a yawning emptiness hits you. And the last thing you want to do is put on your coat, leaf the house one more time, and throw yourself into the after-work hustle and bustle at the grocery store.
So, you take a look in your pantry and find another package of instant Chinese noodles. Or maybe you find a frozen pizza at the freezer. And while we are wondering, why the hell we have such junk food at home, we’re already starting to make the noodles or pizza. And of course, we know that this is anything but a healthy meal, but what can we do? We’re hungry, we’re annoyed, and we’re just done with the day…
Does that sound somehow familiar to you? Well, it definitely does to me. And that’s why I what to talk about how I have stocked my pantry with healthy pantry essentials to prevent situations like that.
So, without any further ado, let me tell you how to stock your pantry with the most basic healthy pantry essentials!
How to Stock Your Pantry
As a food blogger, food photographer and passionate hobby cook, my small pantry is probably the most cluttered room ever. But if you ask me, which things there are really a part of my everyday life, the selection is surprisingly small. So let me introduce you to those healthy pantry essentials. And to give this list some structure, let’s divide the foods into the categories carbs, canned food, snacks, sauces and flavor boosters.
Healthy Carbohydrates for Your Pantry
So, let’s start with what is probably the largest group, the carbohydrates. Healthy carbs that absolutely belong in every pantry include whole wheat pasta, rice, oats, and whole wheat flour. These four things are essential for me.
Beyond that, there are a few things that I like to keep, especially for situations in which things need to go fast or when my fridge is totally empty. First, I always have a microwave rice at home, second, I like to keep some protein pasta in stock.
In addition, my pantry always includes baking powder and cornstarch. I use the latter not only for one of my favorite snacks, my homemade high protein pudding. But since cornstarch is great for marinades, I also often use it when frying meat or tofu. And baking powder, well that’s just an ingredient often use for baking.
Finally, my pantry also includes a zero or lower calorie sweetener like erythritol or birch sugar. And, since a teeny pinch of sugar can often change the whole dish, coconut blossom sugar is also one of my pantry essentials.
But feel free to use some brown sugar instead. It’s by now means unhealthier than coconut blossom sugar. I just personally like the taste of coconut blossom sugar so much better.
Canned and Preserved Food to Stock Your Pantry
Well, let’s move on to category number two, the canned and preserved foods. While canned goods may not have a super healthy reputation, I think they definitely belong to healthy pantry essentials.
The best example are lentils, beans and other legumes. Of course, you can also buy the dried version, which is for sure the healthiest solution.
But you know what? I am way too lazy and especially way too forgetful for soaking the dried legumes in time, many hours before cooking. That’s why I always (also) have them in preserves at home.
Beside lentils and beans, which are by the way great sources of protein, I always have crushed, strained and peeled canned tomatoes at home. And since it can be used in so many wonderful ways, I think a can of fat-reduced coconut milk is essential too.
And for all of you, who aren’t on a vegetarian or plant-based diet, I would suggest to stock your pantry with some canned tuna too. I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but for those who eat fish and like tuna, it’s the perfect protein source which can be kept in the pantry.
Finally, I couldn’t live without unsweetened applesauce. Whether it’s for snacking or baking, applesauce is very versatile, making it a must-have healthy food for your pantry.
Admittedly, “sauces” isn’t the best collective term for this collection of healthy pantry essentials. So, I’m open to any suggestions for improvement. But let’s take a look at what’s hiding behind it.
Probably the only sauce in this category is soy sauce, which can give the perfect flavor boost to so many dishes, not just to those which belongs to the Asian cuisine.
On the sweet side, honey and maple syrup (or one of each) are essentials for me. I use them regularly not only for baking bread or to sweeten meals, but also for flavoring savory sauces or dishes.
In addition, mustard is also one of my pantry essentials. It can be used not only for seasoning or as a sauce for sandwiches, but also for dressings and much more.
And even it doesn’t really fit into this category, non-dairy milk (or UHT milk) is a must-have too. Whether for baking, smoothies, cereals or coffee, a life without some form of milk is unimaginable for me. 😀
And lately, you need some vinegar and oil in your pantry. I always like to keep some balsamic and apple cider vinegar as well as some olive oil and some other plant-based oils in stock.
Pantry Essentials for More Flavor
Among the flavor boosters I count dried tomatoes and dried porcini mushrooms. Whether in risotto, pasta sauces or pesto, those ingredients can add endless flavor to any dish. The same goes for vegetable broth, which I forgot to include in this picture as you can see. But, of course, it’s definitely an essential too!
Beyond that, spices are big part. And honestly, this is a ridiculously small delegation of spices compared to the drawers full of spices I’ve collected over the years. But here are a few basic and that’s pretty much all you really need:
- salt and pepper
- paprika powder and chili flakes
- ground coriander and cumin
- dried herbs like oregano, rosemary, or thyme
- cinnamon and vanilla extract
- and maybe a few tasty spice blends which can add that final kick to a tomato sauce or vegetables.
And obviously the list can go on an on and I’m sure you’ll collect a lot more spices over the years. But since spices keep like forever there’s no problem with that.
Lastly, anchovies are essentials for me too. I know that’s not true for everyone. But for me, these little pickled fish fillets are the incarnation of flavor booster.
And even though they don’t last as long as all the other foods mentioned here, garlic, onions, and fresh ginger somehow also belongs to my must-have healthy pantry essentials.
Healthy Snacks to Stock up Your Pantry with
Okay, again, the title doesn’t fit one hundred percent with what I mean by it. But catchy headlines have never been my strong point. However, here comes what I consider as must have healthy snacks for your pantry.
First, I think we all need some dried fruits in our pantry, especially dates and plums. Dates are one of my favorite snacks and perfect for sweetening oatmeal, pastries and the like. And dried plums, they’re honestly just a secret weapon in case your digestion doesn’t work the way you’d like it to… If you know what I mean…
Of course, you can also expand this list of dried fruits, depending on your personal preferences.
Furthermore, I personally also consider protein powders to be part of this category. They are far from a must have, but especially vegan protein powders without artificial flavors and crazy sugar alcohols, can often make a balanced diet easier.
That being said, nuts and nut butters are 100% essential as long as you don’t have any nut allergies. Whether added to savory or sweet dishes, nuts and nut butters go with so much and add a dose of healthy fats to all of them.
Okay and last, but certainly not least, a food that is often way too underrated – corn cakes. Unlike rice cakes, the arsenic argument doesn’t hold water here. Instead, these little cakes are just perfect, healthy carbohydrates that you can eat at home as well as on the go.
Recipe Ideas with Healthy Pantry Essentials
So, since we stocked up our pantry with lots of healthy stuff, let’s take another look at it. Now we will find chopped tomatoes, dried herbs, onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and tuna there. So how about a quick tomato sauce with dried tomatoes and tuna?
And if you don’t like tuna, leave it out and use red lentil or chickpea pasta instead of the whole wheat pasta to include some alternative proteins. And maybe you have some frozen vegetables in the freezer to add to the pasta as well.
For breakfast, you can simply cook up a serving of rolled oats with some water, stir in some protein powder, and serve with some chopped dried fruit and nut butter on top. And once again, maybe you can find some frozen berries in the freezer. In that case you’re all set with a perfectly balanced breakfast!
Healthy Pantry Snacks
Okay, when it comes to healthy pantry snacks, I can’t limit myself to just one single idea because there are so many! For instance, have you ever tried dates filled with nut butter? I’m telling you, it’s additive!
Or how about a corn cake with some peanut butter and a tiny bit of honey on top? Might sound weird, but it’s so good.
Otherwise, check out my homemade high protein pudding recipe. As you will see, all you need are ingredients which all can be found in your pantry!
Printable Healthy Pantry Essentials PDF Guide
Well, that was quite a lot of information, wasn’t it? But to wrap up this whole stock-your-pantry-post, I have a printable PDF guide for you. You can either save it on your phone or PC or print it out and take it with you to your next grocery shopping trip.