6 Healthy Pantry Staples To Have For Weeknight Meals

Having a well-stocked pantry might help you make more healthy decisions on weekdays, particularly when dinnertime rolls round and also you don’t have already got a plan in place. Pantry staples can be utilized to complement contemporary fruit and veggies you have already got available, or function an alternative choice to frozen pizza and prompt ramen.

When shopping for canned beans, broths, greens and different shelf-stable meals, it’s value looking on the dietary labels, as a majority of these meals usually have extra salt and sugar than their contemporary counterparts.

“Positively have a look at the sodium should you’re in danger for hypertension or have hypertension,” mentioned Jonathan Valdez, proprietor of Genki Nutrition and spokesperson for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Whereas the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advocate consuming beneath 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day (and not more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day for individuals with hypertension), Valdez informed HuffPost that the common American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day.

For those who’re watching your sodium consumption, search for low-, reduced- or no-sodium choices in the event that they’re accessible. In the same vein, for canned fruits, consultants advocate discovering choices wherein the fruit is packed in its personal juices or water (as a substitute of syrup).

“Wanting on the substances checklist to see if something has been added is the very best place to search for this,” Meredith Worth, a plant-based registered dietitian and co-founder of Plant-Fit Besties, informed HuffPost.

We requested registered dietitians to share their go-to pantry staples and their favourite methods to make use of them. Under, we’ve rounded up their prime picks.

Dietary yeast

“It is a should in any plant-based individual’s kitchen,” Worth mentioned, noting that dietary yeast is a superb supply of protein, fiber and B nutritional vitamins. Plus, it’s shelf-stable for as much as two years and offers meals a tacky taste.

“It’s additionally low-FODMAP pleasant, which is nice for anybody with digestive points, significantly IBS,” she mentioned.

Worth likes to sprinkle dietary yeast over popcorn for a wholesome snack, and he or she additionally makes use of it to make vegan macaroni and cheese (mixing cashews with dietary yeast to make a creamy vegan sauce).

Listed here are some extra recommendations on what you may make with it.

Nutritional yeast is a flaky vegan ingredient that imparts a cheesy flavor to whatever dish you add it to.

Brent Hofacker / 500px by way of Getty Photographs

Dietary yeast is a flaky vegan ingredient that imparts a tacky taste to no matter dish you add it to.

Dried lentils

Lentils are an amazing supply of plant-based protein, fiber and iron, Worth mentioned, including, “they’re an amazing meat substitute for a lot of dishes.”

Dried lentils are the star ingredient of a few of her favourite weeknight meals, together with daal (lentil stew) and lentil curry, which she serves with rice. When cooking with pantry staples, Worth tries to include no less than some sort of contemporary produce, even when it’s simply an onion.

“I prefer to have some contemporary greens on the aspect to make the meal extra flavorful and nutritious, corresponding to a aspect salad, sauteed kale or roasted carrots,” she mentioned.

Need particular recipes? Right here’s tips on how to flip a bag of lentils into three meals.


Rice is a superb base for including proteins and greens, and any leftovers you may have might be made into fried rice the following day. Throw in an egg, chopped garlic and no matter greens you may have wilting away in your fridge and thank us later — leftovers have by no means tasted this good.

“It goes with virtually each dish and has a really lengthy shelf life,” Valdez mentioned of the grain.

Ali Webster, director of analysis and diet communications on the (*6*), is keen on brown rice as a result of it’s a complete grain.

“It’s increased in vitamins like fiber, manganese, magnesium and selenium in comparison with white rice,” Webster informed HuffPost.

Listed here are 21 rice recipes you may make from pantry substances.

Canned greens that aren’t in season

If contemporary greens aren’t accessible, frozen is the following best choice. After which after that, canned choices are good to have available.

“On the uncommon events that I can’t discover the greens I’m on the lookout for within the grocery retailer, I like to show to canned corn for one thing that’s straightforward and microwavable, particularly if corn shouldn’t be in season,” Valdez mentioned. He makes use of canned corn in ramen, on salads and extra.

Canned beans

Canned beans add fiber and protein to soups and salads, Webster mentioned, they usually will also be blended into dips like hummus or paired with tortillas and different toppings for weeknight tacos.

“The flexibility of canned beans is unmatched,” she mentioned.

At house, Webster and her household prepare dinner with a whole lot of pantry staples as a result of they lower down on prep time and assist get wholesome meals on the desk rapidly. In contrast to dried beans, which may take hours to soak and prepare dinner, canned beans might be heated up and added to dishes in minutes.

Discover nice recipes that use canned black beans right here.

Nut butter

Whether or not you want peanut butter, almond butter or another kind of nut butter, that is your reminder to top off.

“Nut butters are a supply of protein and fiber, they usually’re excessive in wholesome fat,” Webster mentioned. “They can be utilized for every part from toast to smoothies to sauces.”

Webster likes utilizing peanut butter to make peanut sauces for dipping greens into or as a complement for rice noodle dishes.