The Best Pantry Staples for a Healthier & Simpler Life

So I know the idea is usually to shop the walls, not the halls and aim for all fresh food. But sometimes even whole foods come in packages, and you do need to be properly stocked of the best pantry staples in order to make meal planning and prep easier on yourself.

The first step to making sure you are properly stocked of pantry staples, is to take inventory of what you already have. You’ll need:

  • Paper and pen
  • Trash bag
  • Organizational bins/containers (optional, but recommended)

Once you have these items on hand, start going through your pantry and cupboards one shelf at a time. Toss things out as you go, write down the things you’re keeping, and assign them a designated bin/container.

What to Toss

  • Expired items
  • Items that are at the end of the container that you haven’t used in a while (maybe you have another package you skipped right to or it appears to be stale or too broken up/crumb-y)
  • Canned or jarred fruit that have extra syrup or sugar in them
  • High-sodium canned vegetables or other prepared canned food items like pre-prepared beans, soups, etc.
  • Canned green vegetables (there’s just no good purpose for these imo)
  • Herbs & Spices you know you’ll NEVER use

Pantry Staples to Keep/Purchase

  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned beans (unprepared, and preferably low sodium)
  • Canned tuna (in water, preferably low sodium)
  • Olive oil
  • Favorite Herbs & Spices
  • Vinegars
  • Honey
  • Peanut butter (ideally a natural one with no added sugar, which may need to be kept in the fridge)
  • Whole wheat crackers (like wheat thins or triscuits)
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Favorite on-the-go snack (I like Kind bars or another less-processed bar, but no high sugar, overly processed protein bars)
  • Protein powder (if you’re a smoothie person)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nuts/seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax, chia, etc)

Fridge/Freezer Items That Can Replace What You Tossed

So you tossed your jarred fruit and canned green beans. But you still need easy ways of getting your daily fruits and veggies. Buy these instead:

  • Frozen berry mix or other frozen fruit with no sugar added
  • Frozen broccoli, green beans, or other favorite veggie, with no sauces or seasonings (use your own herbs and spices!)
  • Tub of baby spinach (This can last you the week and will go great in smoothies, tossed in sauces, sauteed on the side, or as the base for your salad. Tip: place a paper towel in the container to prevent wilting)
  • String cheese or baby bell is a great on-the-go snack to replace sugary protein bars

What’s Next?

Now that you’re properly stocked of pantry staples, meal planning each week should be much easier and you’ll feel so much more organized. Use your inventory to come with ideas and make a list of what you don’t have for those ideas. Make sure you always have a plan for the fresh food or they’ll go to waste!

Want More Help?

Join my community and download The Busy Woman’s Guide to Meal Planning Like a Pro for more!

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