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Cooking wholesome meals and choosing nourishing snacks is much easier when you keep your pantry stocked with healthy staples. The following are 10 items I categorize as essential in any pantry, but as always: you are free to include only the items you think you'll enjoy and use.
I've also created a free PDF you might be interested to get. This PDF includes:
20 nutrition tips for wholesome living and eating
both a comprehensive grocery shopping list, as well as a basic grocery shopping list (for any newbies)
a grocery shopping list with ideas for themed dinner nights
recipe substitution lists
several cooking conversion charts
... I think it's something you may want to check out, so if you want your free copy be sure to enter your email address in the box that can be found here - the PDF will be sent straight to your inbox!
Of course the grocery shopping list includes the pantry essentials I'll be sharing with you in this article, so let's get started!
Seeds & Nuts
I go nuts for this stuff. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts… you name it and I want it. I take it easy on the amount of oil I use because prefer getting my fat sources from whole foods like these, in addition to avocados and olives. These offer way more nutrients and fiber.. The whole-foods stuff can never be beat.
Here's a tip: if you're like me and you buy in bulk, keep most of your nuts and seeds in the freezer so it doesn't go rancid, and keep just the amount you need for a short while on hand in your pantry.
What's a wholesome breakfast or delicious snack without some kind of nut or seed butter? I love including some nut butter with my morning oats, or as a snack with my crackers or fresh fruit to dip. And don't forget about tahini! It's a sesame seed butter and I love this stuff! Adding tahini to salads as a dressing, or a drizzle on top of pizza, or of course making some hummus with it.
Here's a tip: try to buy 100% peanut butter instead of the kinds with added oils and sugar (it tastes way better anyway), and although it can be kept in your pantry I would recommend storing all your nut and seed butters in the fridge once opened to keep it fresh for longer.
Whole Grains (pictured: rickshaw brown rice nourish bowl)
Is there anything quite as filling and comforting as some warm grains at a meal? To make sure you're choosing the more wholesome grains over the "white stuff", make sure you have it readily on hand. These are foods like: brown rice, wild rice, steel cut oats, regular oats, barley, as well as quinoa and millet (even though their technically seeds but let's not go there). Want to know one fun ingredient that's a whole grain, and maybe you didn't even know it? Popcorn! Who thought snacking could be so nutritious?
Here's a tip: want your grains to cook faster? Soak them in the morning before you leave; this will cut down the cooking time by about half come evening time.
I use bouillon cubes in two ways. The first: is in soups, of course! I just couldn't imagine my life without the comfort and warmth and nutrition offered by a warm bowl of vegetable or lentil soup. The second way I use it: by adding it to the grains I mentioned above to give them some extra flavour.
Here's a tip: if you're new to brown rice and feel like you haven't enjoyed it in the past, try crushing a vegetable bouillon cube into the water when it's cooking. This might change your perspective on enjoying the more wholesome types of grains.
Beans & Lentils (pictured: bean & oat burgers)
Here's a song I have stuck in my head each time I buy some beans or lentils for the pantry:
Beans beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot, the more you toot, the better you feel, so beans beans at every meal!
There are two ways I stock up on my various beans and lentils: one is in the dry and bulk form, and the other is in cans or jars. I try to make my own from scratch whenever I can, but the pre-cooked versions are super helpful when I'm in a rush. A great way to get some extra fiber, some extra protein and extra antioxidants into our diets, that's for sure!
Here's a tip: lentils are perfect for quick and easy meals and take only about 15-20 minutes to cook, compared to beans which take much longer. And another tip: if you've chosen to use the canned/jared beans, make sure to first rinse it under water before adding it to your meal to drain away salt and compounds that make you "gassy".
Nothing beats the goodness of fresh fruits, but sometimes I'm looking for something extra sweet, but that still offers all the fiber and nutrients and goodness that comes from the whole stuff. And this is where dried fruits come into play. Perfect to incorporate into snacks for an extra antioxidant boost, or in meals for some extra sweetness. Try dried fruits like goji berries, dates, dried cranberries, dried figs and rasins. Oh so yum!
Like I said, I love the fresh stuff, but we're human afterall and sometimes we just need a quick and easy way to add nutrition to our meals, without wanting to do all the washing and peeling and chopping. So the solution: canned vegetables. These are things like canned tomato, peas or corn. So when you're in a rush, don't forgo the veggies! Just add a jar of this stuff to up the nutrition of any meal.
Creamy curries and coconut soups. Love me some coconut milk! If you're transitioning off cream and milk, or just want to use less, or try something new then coconut milk is where it's at. It'll give your dishes a more tropical or ethnic taste, without you even needing to get on a plane.
Vinegars are a great way to add some zest to a dish without needing to add extra salt. Use them in sauces, dressings, dips, snacks and condiments to give it some more depth. What I have in my pantry: apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and rice vinegar. Of course you don't need these all - just the ones you think you'll use.
Cooking with herbs and spices will enhance the flavor of your foods without adding oil, salt, sugar, or unnessary calories. It will seriously add some spice to your life (and the pun is oh so intended). It just adds such depth to any meal, and makes it so that you can make the same dish twice but with such different flavour, just based on what spices you chose to add.
Here's a tip: try to buy your spices at ethnic stores, like Chinese, Indian, Persian or turkish shops - they tend to offer more bang for your buck, and I find the flavours are more intense when bought here.
And there you have it - some ideas and inspiration to help you get your pantry stocked. Of course, be sure to get your free PDF that will serve as your guide when you're shopping! Happy stocking!
Want To Learn More?
Read this previous nutrition article called 5 FOODS I EAT EVERYDAY » and so could you
What About You?
What's your favourite pantry item? Let us know in the comments below or share your recipes with us on Instagram with the hashtag #pickuplimes.
❤ Written by: Sadia