Essential pantry ingredients

We've created a free PDF to share with our wonderful community. This PDF includes:

  • 20 nutrition tips for wholesome living and eating
  • Multiple grocery shopping lists, including a list with ideas for themed dinner nights
  • Recipe substitution lists
  • Several cooking conversion charts

To receive the free PDF and learn more, sign-up for the PUL newsletters. The PDF is sent straight away to the email address shared. The grocery shopping list in the free PDF includes some of our pantry essentials that are shared in this article, so let's get started!

1. Nuts and seeds

We go nuts for this stuff. Whether it's pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, or pine nuts. The whole-food fat sources in nuts and seeds are incredible for the body. Nuts and seeds are also a delicious way to get in some essential minerals. As an added plus, they're a great source of fibre too!  

Tip: buying nuts and seeds in bulk can make them more affordable per serving. We like to keep the amount we need for a short while on hand in our pantry. We store the rest of our nuts and seeds in the freezer so they don't go rancid (go bad) when buying in bulk.

2. Nut or seed butters

We love including some nut or seed butter - like peanut butter or sunflower seed butter - with our morning oats, or as a snack with crackers or fresh fruit to dip. Nut and seed butters help make for a wholesome meal or snack that's filling and equally satisfying. Tahini is a sesame seed butter that we absolutely love as well. We add tahini to salad dressings, drizzle some overtop falafel wraps, and use it to make some delicious homemade hummus.

Tip: try to buy 100% peanut butter instead of the kinds with added oils and sugar. Although they can be kept in our pantries, we recommend storing nut and seed butters in the fridge once opened to keep them lasting longer.

3. Coconut milk

For those of us who enjoy creamy curries and soups, coconut milk is a great staple to keep stocked. Aside from curries and soups, coconut milk can also be used to make desserts, baked goods, and beverages. Note that the consistency between canned coconut milk (thicker) and cartoned coconut milk (thinner) differs drastically, so be sure to check which one a recipe is calling for. 

4. Whole grains 

We find there's nothing quite as filling and comforting as some warm grains in a meal. Here at PUL, we aim to have some whole grain staples on hand in our pantry, such as brown rice, wild rice, steel-cut oats, old-fashioned rolled oats, barley, quinoa, and millet. Believe it or not, popcorn is also a whole grain. Feel free to stock up for a fun movie-night snack! 

Tip: to cook grains faster, soak them in the morning before leaving for the day. This will cut down the cooking time by about half come the evening.

5. Canned and jarred vegetables

Fresh produce is great but isn't always handy or available. Some canned or jarred veggies we enjoy include canned tomatoes, corn, mushrooms, carrots, and green beans. When in a rush, there's no need to forgo the veggies! Adding jarred or canned veggies can boost the nutrition of just about any meal.

creamy rose pasta
For this creamy rose pasta, we use roasted red bell peppers from a jar.

6. Beans and lentils 

There are two ways we stock up on various beans and lentils. One is in the dry form, and the other is cooked in cans or jars. Pre-cooked legumes in cans or jars are super helpful when we're in a rush. They can be rinsed and added to just about anything in less than 20 seconds. Both beans and lentils are a tasty way to get in some extra fibre, protein, and antioxidants. 

Tip: lentils are perfect for quick and easy meals. They take about 15 - 20 minutes to cook, compared to beans which take much longer. When choosing canned or jarred beans, rinsing them under water before adding them to dishes helps to wash away salt and gas-inducing compounds.

7. Dried fruits

When looking for something sweet that offers all the benefits of fibre, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, look no further than dried fruit. Some dried fruits we enjoy include goji berries, dates, dried cranberries, dried figs, dried mangoes, and raisins. Consider enjoying them as a snack, or add them to granola, into desserts, or even sprinkled overtop salads for some added natural sweetness.

8. Bouillon cubes and/or vegetable stock

Here at PUL, we use bouillon cubes and vegetable stock often. For example, we add it into a pot of comforting and warm vegetable or lentil soup or add it to whole grains while they cook to give them some extra flavour.

Tip: For those of us who are new to brown rice or haven't enjoyed it in the past, try crushing a vegetable bouillon cube into the water while it's cooking, or cook the grain in vegetable stock instead of water. It's a super-easy way to add some flavour and add provide us a new perspective on the deliciousness of whole grains. 

9. Vinegars

Vinegars are a wonderful way to add some zing to a dish. Use them in sauces, dressings, dips, snacks and condiments to give these foods some more depth. Here at PUL, we commonly use apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and rice vinegar. Of course, you don't need all of these vinegars, just the ones you think you'll use.

10. Spices

Cooking with herbs and spices will enhance the flavour of foods without adding excess oil, salt, or sugar. There are tons of spices out there, but there's no need to buy them all. As with the other ingredients, pick a few that you think you'll use often, and stock up on those first. We can always build up a more substantial array of spices over time. 

Tip: try to buy spices at ethnic grocery stores, like Chinese, South Asian, Persian or Turkish shops. They tend to offer more bang for our buck, and we find the flavours are more intense when bought at these stores.


These are just a few foods we keep stocked here at the PUL headquarters. If there are any that you find yourself using often, consider stocking up on those! That way, you'll always have those staples on hand whenever you're whipping up a meal.