7 Key Ingredients in a Healthy Pantry

How to keep your home stocked for healthy and delicious meals during unexpected times.

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Posted in , Mar 17, 2020

Stocking a healthy pantry

During stressful or unexpected times, tending to our most basic needs is of paramount importance. We can’t do anything else if we are not warm, dry and fed. 

In the best case scenario, it's good to be prepared for a number of eventualities, ready with flashlights for power outages or shovels for snowstorms. And having a well-stocked pantry is a key to navigating virtually any emergency. It’s calming and reassuring to peek in your pantry and see it filled with what your family needs to both survive and thrive during a challenge.

What does a healthy pantry look like? Here are some ingredients to include in a larder that’s stocked, smart and ready to serve up energy-boosting nourishment in any situation.

1) Grains and Beans
Whole grains and dried beans have a number of things in common. For one, both are highly shelf-stable and will last for ages in the pantry. Both are also nutrient-dense, meaning they are packed with protein, fiber and vital nutrients like B-vitamins. Whole grains include brown rice, wheat berries, bulgur wheat or farro, and they can be served with vegetables, meats or with chunks of cheese. Here are some examples of grain salad meals.

2) Canned Foods
Tomatoes are a versatile and delicious pantry staple that can be transformed into soup, pasta sauce or pizza sauce. Canned vegetables like corn or green beans are also handy in a pinch, in case fresh supplies aren’t available. Canned beans are heat-and-serve, so they can be a great option for busy households. Be sure to purchase canned goods that are packed in BPA-free cans (as most are) so as to avoid potentially toxic chemicals.

3) Boxed Broth
Supermarkets offer a wide variety of prepared broths, from vegetable to seafood to beef to chicken. These can be warmed up and sipped from a mug if you’re not feeling well, or they can be used to enrich a pot of grains (rice, for example, is flavorful and healthy when cooked in broth) or crafted into a wide variety of soups and stews. Once opened, the boxes keep for a week in the refrigerator. Here are some ideas for soups with delicious textures.

4) Shelf-Stable Milks
Whether you are a dairy person or a soy, coconut or almond milk drinker, there are dried products as well as shelf-stable cartons of milks that are nice to have around for a quick bowl of cereal or to give a soup or sauce a creamy feel. 

5) Rolled Oats
Oatmeal is a versatile, filling and comforting dish that is fast and easy to make and delicious to eat. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, oats are the definition of a healthy pantry staple. Try one of these four ways to elevate your oatmeal.

6) Cereal Bars
Granola bars and cereal bars come in myriad flavors these days, so why not have a stash on hand for easy, fiber-rich snacking? 

7) Treats
Living through a stressful time with authentic positivity means giving yourself special somethings to accompany your healthy pantry staples. A few bars of a favorite dark chocolate are a great no-prep option. In my house, boxed brownie mix is also always on hand in the pantry—somehow, during unexpected times, the right moment always presents itself to fill the house with the delectable scent of baking brownies. 

What’s in your healthy pantry?

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