Here is the ultimate list of healthy pantry staples to stock in your kitchen to help you make a quick healthy meal. I’ve also included tips and ideas to help you create a kitchen that’ll help you stick with healthier eating habits long-term.
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I have often said that it’s easier to eat healthy when nutritious meals and snacks are ready ahead of time. That is pretty much what this entire blog is about – showing you how to quickly prepare meals so you can fit healthier eating habits into a busy schedule. One of the ways to do that is by having a kitchen that’s stocked with healthy pantry staples.
Reasons you’ll love having your kitchen pantry stocked with healthy eats!
- You’ll have healthier options available when the craving for a snack or meal hits—no more reaching for chips when there are better choices.
- Preparing quick, nutritious dinners or snacks is less of a hassle when you have healthy ingredients at your fingertips. There’s no need to order take-out because everything you need to make a nutritious meal is in the kitchen.
- Removing unhealthy choices and temptations minimizes the chance of eating foods that sabotage your healthy eating habits and weight loss.
Before Stocking Your Kitchen Pantry
If the goal is to change your eating habits, then here are three things you can do before stocking up on healthy pantry staples.
Recognize your food weakness
List out the foods or snacks that are your absolute weakness. You know the ones I am talking about—the foods you can’t say no to. If you have a hard time resisting these foods and keeping the portions under control, it may be in your best interest to limit your access. Treat these foods as special snacks that you enjoy once in a while. You don’t want to have to tap into willpower regularly when you’re sitting at home.
Do a quick scan of your kitchen.
Go through your kitchen and take a look at the foods that are there. What does the junk food situation look like? If you wanted to make a quick healthy meal using ingredients from the pantry, could you do that? What are your healthy snack options? If you go into your kitchen right now, what are your healthy options? This initial scan will give you insight into what your current food situation looks like.
List out healthy substitutes.
The goal is not to feel deprived, instead swap in healthier versions of the not-so-healthy foods and treats. Don’t worry; there are so many options available today that are just as good if not better than the junk you’re trying to get rid of. Also, as you start to cook homemade versions of your favorites, the cravings for the processed foods will disappear.
Favorite grocery stores to shop when stocking a pantry
These are the three stores I shop at most often when I’m stocking up on healthy pantry staples.
- Wegmans or Whole Foods – I do my weekly grocery shopping at either of these grocery stores. Typically, I’m not doing an extensive stock up at these stores but grabbing a few staples that I ran out of or need for a recipe. I get better prices at the following two options.
- BJ’s Wholesale – If you live near a wholesale grocery store, I strongly recommend checking it out when stocking up on healthy ingredients. I shop primarily at BJ’s Wholesale, but Costco and Sam’s Club are also great options. You can find large bags of organic rice, quinoa, sauce, spices, whole grain pasta and flour, oatmeal, olive oil, coconut oil, and tons of other healthy options. They offer many organic perishable and non-perishable options, and you can even find a more extensive selection of gluten-free items.
- Thrive Market – I’ve been a Thrive Market member since 2015, so you’ve likely seen me talk about this online grocery store many times. Next to wholesale stores, this is my favorite grocery store to use when I’m stocking up on pantry staples. Thrive Market offers better prices on most name brands I’d purchase from Whole Foods or Wegmans. I also love the Thrive Market store brand that includes everything from pasta sauces to salsas to rice to beans to everything in-between. And, Thrive Market has the best prices on all gluten-free brands and ingredients. So, I try to put an order in with Thrive Market before I know I’ll run out of ingredients. Many people ask is Thrive Market Worth it? And, yes, it most definitely is.
If you’re a Thrive Market Member then, you can check out my running list of pantry staples. Not a member yet? Give Thrive Market a try and get 40% off your first order.
Tips to make sure your pantry is always stocked with healthy kitchen staples
- Keep a running list of ingredients – As you use up the last of an ingredient, add it to the shopping list. You can do this using the notes app on your phone, pen and paper, or right into the Thrive Market online grocery cart (if you’re a member).
- Make a monthly stock-up shopping trip – If there are healthy pantry staples that you use all of the time, then plan a monthly stock-up trip to make sure you never run out. I stock up on kitchen staples like chicken stock, spices, rice, quinoa, and pasta once a month, even if I’m not out because I know I use these ingredeints often to make quick meals.
- Review the pantry before shopping – It never hurts to take a peek at the pantry to make sure you’re not low on or out of an ingredient.
Healthy Pantry Staples
I put together a quick list of healthy pantry staples I recommend having in your kitchen. When choosing ingredients, make sure to look for organic or the least processed ingredients.
Grains and Pasta
- Steel-cut oats
- Old-fashioned oats
- Brown rice
- Whole-grain pasta or Gluten-free Pasta
- Broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
- Canned tomatoes (sauce, diced, crushed, and paste)
- Canned chilis
- Jarred pickled jalapenos
- Jarred banana peppers
- Canned or dried beans (garbanzo, black, kidney, cannellini, refried)
- Canned coconut milk
- High-quality pasta sauce (Rao’s and Thrive Market Brand are my favorites)
- Canned tuna
- Olives or capers
- Salad dressings
- Nut or seed butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower, tahini, etc.)
- Nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts, etc.)
- Dried fruits (blueberries, cranberries, cherries, etc.)
- Dried coconut
- Canned pumpkin or squash
- White-whole wheat flour
- Grain-free flours (oat, almond, coconut, or 1:1 gluten-free flour)
- Pure vanilla extract
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Chocolate chips
- Cooking spray
- Pure maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Buttermilk power (this goes in the fridge after it’s open)
- Chia seeds
- Hemp hearts
- Cacao powder
- Cacao nibs
Oil and vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Granulated garlic
- Onion powder
- Italian seasoning
- Dried oregano
- Dried basil
- Dried thyme
- Chili powder
- Mustard (yellow, spicy, Dijon)
- Hot Sauce
- Soy Sauce (or Coconut Amino Acids)
Preparing homemade snacks is always the best option but you may not always have the time. Here is a list of snacks I like to keep in the pantry.
- Bobo Bars
- Kind Bars
- Cliff Bars
- Turkey Jerky Sticks
For more options, check out this list of store-bought keto snacks.
- Fresh produce (fruit, vegetables, salad ingredients)
- Milk or No-dairy milk
- Yogurt (vanilla and plain)
- Shredded cheese
Often, I’ll prep food ahead of time to put the freezer to have ready for recipes. Here’s a list of my favorites.
- Shredded chicken recipes
- Shredded beef
- Seasoned ground beef
- Turkey meatballs
- Bags of frozen shrimp (cleaned and shelled)
- Bags of frozen veggies
- Cooked brown rice
- Frozen fruit (for healthy smoothies, yogurt bowls, and healthy baking recipes)
For recipe ideas using these healthy pantry staples, browse through all of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes.
A healthy pantry should include a mix of ingredients that will help you prepare a homemade meal or snack easily and quickly. Don’t feel like you need to go out and purchase everything on this list. Start with a few things, and then add to your pantry with every shopping trip.
Thanks for a great list of products to keep on hand for healthy cooking for both meals and snacks. I have most of the items in my pantry already, so only need to add a few items. I also find that Wal-Mart carries a lot of the items for healthy eating and in smaller quantities and more brands than what I can find at Costco. I am only cooking for 2 seniors, so we don’t need huge containers of things that have a “best before date” on them. This is where freezer prepping is a big help.
I‘ve been following your blog for many years and tried a lot of your recipes and really appriciate all your work. Reading this post today, i felt pretty proud of myself because for almost everything i could mark it off as : got it! The only thing i sometimes struggle with is to find a savory snack or small meal that i can throw together quick. My guilty pleasure are chips and everything salty and chrunchy . I have rice crackers and such, but im always out on the lookout for an healthier option.
Is there a way to print this list?
i always keep yogurt cups, plain yogurt, hummus, low fat granola, turkey pepperoni and cheese of various varieties in my fridge. They are great to add to packed lunches or a good non junk snack when hungry.
I have a veggie tray in my fridge, I purchased the tray at the grocery store for a potluck and then brought it home and I washed and re-use the tray and fill it with fresh cut-up veggies on a regular basis – baby carrots, cucumbers, broccoli spears, red pepper strips, etc…..there is no excuse for not taking these as a snack for lunch when they are all cut up and ready to go!
i do most of these things,plus i’m always looking to buy or make things that i miss in a healthier version..i also LOVE cheezits but i have finally found a healthier version put out by Funley’s Delicious called all natural Super Crackers(no artificial anything)
Evelyn Bailey says
What are the best tasting, most satisfying whole wheat pasta brands?
Karen B says
I substituted Coconut Palm sugar for brown sugar in your Pumpkin Chocolate Chip bread (lower glycemic index) and it was great !!
Dana Burns says
Is whole wheat white flour just as good as wheat flour? I noticed there is also white wheat bread available? It’s a little confusing.thought you might have some input?