When your stomach growls and you’re feeling hungry with an almost empty fridge, skipping take-out is a wise choice. Checking your pantry for options is the way to go. With well-stocked pantry staples, you can whip up delicious and nutritious meals without worrying about spoilage, as they have a longer shelf life. Dietitian Sam Schleiger says these pantry staples are rich in nutrients, creating balanced and wholesome meals without fresh ingredients. So, keeping these staples on hand encourages healthier meal choices and minimizes food waste, streamlining your kitchen inventory.
Below, nutrition experts reveal the essential pantry items they always keep on hand for preparing easy and healthful meals.
“Buckwheat is a gluten-free, fiber-rich whole grain that can replace rice or quinoa in your meals. It helps stabilize blood sugar, packs in protein and minerals, and is easy to cook—and boil until absorbed. You can enjoy it in various dishes like grain bowls, yogurt parfaits, or stir-fries with veggies. For extra nutrients, try cooking it in bone or beef broths.”
Canned beans are versatile for main dishes, sides, or salads. A registered dietitian, Lorena Drago, prefers chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, and cannellini beans. Her go-to meal involves sautéing onions, red peppers, tomatoes, and carrots in olive oil, then simmering with strained beans, vegetable stock, and seasonings. Canned beans are rich in protein, fiber, iron, potassium, and folate, providing lasting energy and aiding in cholesterol reduction. Choose low-sodium canned beans or rinse them to cut sodium, reducing sodium content by around 40%.
Want a gluten-free, protein-packed option? Quinoa is the answer. It’s versatile and quick for grain bowls or on-the-go meals, with one cup providing 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and essential nutrients like calcium, iron, and magnesium. Try it with veggies and a fried egg or mixed with dates, pecans, greens, and parmesan in a zesty dressing.