What you keep in your pantry is essential to helping you eat right, lose weight, and improve your health. That’s because a well-stocked pantry means making meals is a cinch, and the more home-cooked meals you eat, the greater control you have over how much saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium you take in this type of food.
Here are eight everyday essentials I keep in my pantry so I can make delicious and nutritious meals at a moment’s notice.
Pulses include dry beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils. Protein-rich and low in calories, pulses are nutritional powerhouses. Research indicates that they may help you lose weight—and keep it off. We should use them in soups, salads, and to make creamy dips.
Whole grains can help you make healthy meals in minutes and thanks to their fiber, they’ll help keep you satisfied. Plus, eating more whole grains can help you reduce your risk for heart disease and certain cancers.
Armed with cans of whole, diced, and crushed tomatoes and even pureed tomato sauce, you can create an endless variety of sauces and soups. Compared to fresh, canned tomato products are particularly healthful.
Nuts and nut butters
Keeping a variety of nuts and nut butters on hand can amp up the texture and flavor of dishes at a moment’s notice? Rich in heart-healthy fats, protein, fiber, and antioxidants, nuts can help reduce risk for chronic diseases and may help you whittle your waistline.
Dried herbs and spices
Rev up flavor without adding calories, sugar, or fat to your food! Herbs and spices are also bursting with protective antioxidants. In fact, one study examining more than 3,000 foods concluded that several herbs and spices, including oregano, cinnamon, thyme, and rosemary, had some of the highest antioxidant counts of all.
The main oils we use are extra-virgin olive oil for salad dressings and dipping. Canola oil for cooking and baking because of its light, neutral flavor and sesame oil for Asian-inspired stir-fry, dressing, or sauce. These oils are all considered heart-healthy because they are lower in saturated fat than butter or coconut oil.
Broth and stock
Keep low-sodium vegetable, beef, and chicken stock or broth on hand so you can easily put together soups, sauces and stews. They’re also great to help moisten leftover meat or poultry that’s dry or overcooked.
No pantry is complete without condiments that help ensure your meals will be flavorful. Some of our favorite healthy condiments include vinegar, mustard, amino acids and soy sauce, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.