The Best Pantry Staples For Healthy Eating

Behind every nutritious diet is an even better pantry. Nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume shares the top pantry staples to add to your shopping list.

Does your pantry need a makeover?

If your pantry is packed to the brim or harboring items that have passed their use by date, then it’s time to whip your pantry into shape. Whilst pantries come in all different shapes and sizes, what matters most is that you can easily identify what it contains. Not only will having an organized pantry save you from buying groceries that you already have hidden amongst the stash, but provide the foundations for a variety of meals that can be adapted and played with using whatever fresh produce you have.

Consider filling your pantry within the following categories:

Whole grains

From breakfast cereals to flours, rice and pasta, whole grains are a must for sustenance. Fibre-packed to fill you for longer, the grain family can be used in everything from baked blueberry muffins to quinoa poke bowls, to stir-fry bases (and don’t forget the simple avo on sourdough bread).

Where possible, make the switch to whole grain varieties:

  • Brown rice
  • whole wheat pasta
  • barley
  • rolled oats
  • wholemeal, buckwheat or spelt flour

Canned goods

These convenient, budget-friendly go-tos can also be nutritious ones. You can have beans or legumes for plant-based protein, canned fish for omega-3 fats and canned tomatoes for added veggies . Mix it up by introducing lentils to your Bolognese for meatless Mondays or red or black kidney beans for Taco Tuesdays.

  • Lentils
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Three bean mix
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Salmon

Herbs and spices

Ensure your meals are never boring by having long-lasting herbs and spices on shelf. Look beyond the salt and pepper shaker and stock up on a variety to add that extra burst of flavour to any meal without going too heavy on the salt.

  • Oregano
  • Chili
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • paprika.
  • Garam masala
  • Curry powder

Snack foods

When you’re feeling peckish between meals, having bite-sized and convenience snacks at your fingertips is key to sticking with healthy lifestyle habits. Dried fruit can satisfy that afternoon sweet craving and when paired with a handful of nuts makes a balanced snack filled with healthy fats, fibre and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Nuts or seeds and nut butters can also be added to your breakfast, smoothies, salads or wholegrain crackers, or sprinkle them over stir-fries. Qe has a great range of organic nuts to choose from also!

  • Whole grain or multigrain crackers
  • Almonds
  • Pepitas
  • Chia seeds
  • Cashews
  • Macadamias
  • Dried apricots
  • Medjool dates
  • Sultanas

Oils and condiments

If I had to choose one oil, it would be extra virgin olive oil. It can be used for just about anything (including frying) and has proven heart health benefits. However, you may prefer to experiment with other healthy oils like avocado or macadamia for baking or drizzling.

As for condiments, handy staples include apple cider vinegar, salt-reduced tamari or soy sauce, fish sauce, mustard, honey, maple syrup or jams made with real fruit. For speedy mid-week dinners, try salsas or tossing curry powders or pastes through your stir-fry’s, curries or casseroles. As always, the fewer ingredients the better and QE condiments are only filled with natural ingredients.

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Macadamia oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Jam made with real fruit
  • Salsa
  • Curry powder
  • Fish sauce
  • Tamari sauce
  • soy sauce

Kathleen Alleaume (MSc) is a nutritionist and founder of The Right Balance