When you are stocking your pantry, this list will help make delicious and nutritious meals- even while holed up at home.
Beans, Pulses, Legumes
Beans, pulses, and legumes are not only a great source of protein but they also contain fiber to keep you full and support the health of your microbiome.
Why We Love Beans
They are nutritious, delicious and also happen to be shelf-stable and inexpensive.
Low or no salt canned beans: Look for no-added-salt varieties, but if you can’t find them, rinse your beans under running water. It removes a good portion of the sodium. Stock up on chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and others, and don’t overlook other bean-based canned foods, like canned, lower-sodium lentil and split pea soup. These foods supply protein and fiber, along with health-supporting minerals, like magnesium and potassium. We know from the longest-lived people in the world that they ate about a cup of beans every day and that eating beans can add about 4 years to your lifespan.
Dried beans and pulses: These dried varieties of any kind including lentils, chickpeas, black beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, navy beans, broad beans, and fava beans are one of the least expensive things at any market. They also take so little space in your pantry and last forever.
Dried, roasted beans: Along with plant-based protein, these foods supply fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Look for dry roasted chickpeas, broad beans and edamame. Check the list of ingredients to be sure to avoid those with added sugar or preservatives.
Hummus and other bean dips: These are great for dipping vegetables, topping toast, etc.
Chickpea and lentil pasta: These shelf-stable foods pack way more protein and fiber than ordinary noodles. Try to find brands that use only 1-2 ingredients.
Frozen edamame. You can buy these frozen, either naked or in their pods.
Fruits and vegetables
Stock up on fresh, frozen, and dried fruits and veggies. Onions, potatoes, apples, cabbage, squash, citrus fruits, and carrots last a long time too.
Fresh Fruit: Think apples, melons, grapefruit, oranges, and clementines. Fruit that lasts a long time. Unripe bananas will ripen over the course of several days, so you can enjoy them as you go. Keep them in the fridge after they are almost ripe to extend their shelf life. You can also slice and freeze them for snacking or to toss in smoothies down the line. They’re also a great ingredient to have on hand for baking.
Frozen fruit: Load up on frozen berries, pineapple, mangoes, and peaches which are perfect for making smoothies or topping coconut or almond milk yogurt and oatmeal. In addition to fiber, these gems contain phytonutrients, which play a key role in gut and immune health.
Freeze-dried fruit: Crunchy, freeze-dried fruit, perfect for snacking or mixing into a homemade trail mix, supplies vitamins and minerals. You can find freeze-dried blueberries, mangoes, and others at Trader Joe’s as well as all the mainstream markets.
Dried fruit: Shop for dried raisins, mango (which tastes like candy), dates, figs, apricots, prunes, and whichever dried fruits you fancy. Check for added sugars before you buy, cranberries are one to watch in particular.
Shelf-stable, hardy veggies: Start your at-home stay with veggies, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, squash, peppers, and cauliflower, which, when unwashed and uncut, stay fresh for several days. Carrots (in the refrigerator) and potatoes and sweet potatoes (on the counter) last even longer.
Frozen veggies: Pick from any you like! Try frozen spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, riced cauliflower, butternut squash, asparagus, and green beans. They’re frozen at the peak of freshness so they pack a nutritious punch and will last a long time while you build the foundation of your meals around them.
Canned veggies: These staples can turn into countless stews, soups, pasta, and baked goods. Canned pumpkin, canned tomatoes, canned corn, and canned olives are some top picks.
Nuts and Seeds
Seeds: Seeds, such as flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds, supply protein as well as fiber. Add them to your oatmeal or overnight oats, blend them into smoothies, or use them to top salads, sautéed veggies, or avocado toast.
Nuts: Pick up a variety of nuts, such as pistachios, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, and almonds. You can use them to boost the nutrition and tastiness of a range of meals and snacks. They can also be blended into homemade nut butters if you’re looking for a fun activity to do with your kids. Get creative by coming up with your own combinations of flavors like Chai-Spiced Cashew Butter or Honey Almond Butter.
NonDairy Milks: Shelf-stable soy, hemp, almond, and coconut milks can last years. They are great as a base for smoothies and can be useful in making curries or for baking.
Grains provide fiber and other nutrients to keep you healthy while you’re homebound. They can be a meal all on their own or as the foundation of stir-fries and other dishes.
100% whole grains: Shop for whole grains, such as steel-cut oats, quinoa, farro, millet, barley, and brown rice. These make tasty and nutritious side dishes or can be the foundation of your meals, and they’ll keep in your pantry the entire time you’re practicing social distancing — and beyond.
Pasta: Look for pasta made with just a few high-quality ingredients. Gluten-free varieties are available in many stores and are often made with quinoa and brown rice. You can also use chickpea or lentil pasta.
Flours: Stock up on an assortment of flours, such as chickpea flour, almond flour, coconut flour, cornflour, and whole-grain flour. Days at home were made for baking.
Bread: It won’t stay fresh for weeks on end, but it is freezer-friendly. You can make it an activity, as well, by baking your own. If you are not a baker, be sure to buy 100% whole grain bread or ask your local baker for real sourdough bread.
Popcorn: Popcorn is, in fact, a whole grain that is loaded with antioxidants and fiber. It’s a great snack to have on hand that your family will appreciate when Netflix becomes the height of your evening plans. Buy whole kernels and pop them in olive oil or coconut oil on the stove, or use a paper bag to pop them in the microwave without all of the extra junk found in packaged microwave popcorn.
While we typically recommend eating mostly whole foods and avoiding packaged foods, it’s ok to prepare for a time that is stressful enough as it is without adding meal planning and prepping to the mix. After all, sometimes it is the small comforts that can help get you through hard times. If you need some easy go-to items, try frozen cauliflower rice blends or low-sodium canned soups. If you like dark chocolate, grab a high-quality dark chocolate bar for a treat—it also contains antioxidants to boost your immunity. You’ll also need to make sure you have all of the ingredients you may take for granted on a daily basis.
The following items are all shelf-stable but can be easy to leave off of your list if you are in a hurry:
Olive oil: Olive oil , coconut oil, avocado oil, and canola oil are good to have on hand, as well. Evidence shows that olive oil consumption increases good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol.
Spices: Salt, pepper, turmeric, garlic, ginger, oregano, basil, chili powder, cinnamon, etc.
Stock: Vegetable broth, vegetable stock, and products like Better than Bouillon will be the base of many soups, stews, and sauces, and can also add extra flavor to grains like rice, quinoa, or farro.
Coffee: Research associates coffee drinking with lower rates of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Tea: Green tea has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and several cancers. Brews of rosemary, wild sage, and dandelion—all herbs known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Wine: Particularly dark, red wine. People who drink—in moderation—tend to outlive those who don’t. (This doesn’t mean you should start drinking if you don’t drink now.)