Want to stock your pantry with nutritious foods but not sure where to begin? Well, look no further as I take you through what exactly is in my pantry, helping to keep me on track to living a happier, healthier life.
Having a stocked pantry is essential if you want to begin eating a healthy, balanced diet. There is often the misconception that you must eat nothing but fresh produce if you want to eat cleanly, but quite the opposite is true. Whilst around 60-70% of my diet consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat, the remainder is made up of things I find in my pantry — think oats, pasta, nut butter, tinned tuna and loads more.
I find that when my pantry is bare, I’m a lot more likely to reach for unhealthier options (i.e. takeout), as the last thing I want to do at the end of a busy day is head to the dreaded supermarket. When you have a pantry filled with delicious, nutritious ingredients that also happen to be super versatile, you’re much more likely to stick to your healthy eating habits and make something nutrient-dense for your family. Whatever your dietary requirements, having a stocked pantry will be your new best friend — saving you time, money and energy.
Buy In Bulk
If you’re looking to stock up on your pantry staples, buying in bulk is the most economical option. Whilst it can seem convenient to pick up a 300g pack of quinoa when you’re at the supermarket, having to purchase multiple packs throughout the month will not only cost you a lot more money but will also lead to you having to make multiple trips to the supermarket (and nobody wants that). I did the math, and you are looking at spending £6.67/kg when you buy your quinoa in a 300g pack vs £4.16/kg when you buy a 3kg bag of quinoa.
Obviously, don’t go crazy and buy a 20kg bag for a household of two. Although things like grains will stay fresh for a long period of time, they do have a use-by date, especially once the packet has been opened.
My recent obsession
I have recently become obsessed with organising my pantry, pouring every grain, legume and cereal into neatly lined up jars. The gratification I get from doing this came as a surprise, as I’m usually the first person to shy away from anything to do with cleaning or organising.
My family and friends like to point out that mess follows me wherever I go. Which, to be honest, is quite a fair statement. Maybe I’ve changed my ways? Or perhaps this is just a phase? Whatever is going on, I’m going to harness these house-goddess vibes I’m currently feeling and put them to good use.
When I moved into my new house, the kitchen was a mess. The cupboards were overfilling, and I couldn’t find anything I was looking for. When a couple of kilogram bags of oats exploded all over the floor (oops!), I decided it was about time to get my sh*t together and create some organisation in my life. What’s more, several journeys to Costco (my current obsession) left me with grains, pulses and protein bars coming out of my ears!
I decided enough was enough and purchased a load of jars in all shapes and sizes. My favourite glass storage containers are from Kilner, being super versatile and hard-wearing.
Ready to dive into my pantry with me? Let’s do this!
What’s in my pantry
How to stock your pantry: Grains & Baking
Grains: As I am sensitive to gluten, I tend to stick to gluten-free (GF) options. The grains I reach for the most include quinoa, buckwheat, rice (wild, black or brown rice) and oats (rolled/old-fashioned). I also always have a pack or two of popcorn in my pantry for snacks. These grains are great sources of fibre, B vitamins, antioxidants, protein and trace minerals. So don’t go cutting them out of your diet!
Pasta: Who doesn’t love pasta? It might seem like being GF would limit your pasta options, but nowadays, there’s a large variety of scrumptious options. My go-to pasta substitutes are brown rice, buckwheat, edamame and black bean.
Flour: The flour you use will depend on what you’re doing in the kitchen. For baking, I like to use almond flour, coconut flour or tapioca flour. For making sauces, tapioca always works well. If I’m making a loaf of bread, it’s either spelt flour (although not GF, my stomach tolerates it well), tapioca flour or brown rice flour.
Natural Sweeteners: Instead of always reaching for refined and processed sugars (i.e. white sugar, high fructose corn sugar, brown sugar), opt for natural sweeteners, which have the advantage of giving your body some extra health benefits. My go-to’s are natural maple syrup, raw honey, dates and coconut sugar.
Baking Essentials: If you’re an avid baker, then it’s essential to have your pantry stocked with everything you’ll need to cook up a storm. Most of the things I bake require one or more of the following— baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, dark chocolate (Dairy-free) and cocoa/cacao powder
How to stock your pantry: Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruit
Whole nuts: Nuts are a great snack and jam-packed full of goodness. Did you know that one Brazil nut provides you with your daily selenium requirements? My favourite nuts are almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts
Nut butter: I can’t live a day without my nut butter; I spread it on literally everything. My favourite two for baking and snacking are peanut and almond butter. Always check that your nut butter is free of preservatives, added salt and palm oil.
Seeds: Seeds are incredibly nutritious, helping to reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. Some research has suggested that flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds can balance your hormones.
Aside from their health benefits, they also taste yummy and add a crunch to any dish. I like to sprinkle seeds on my porridge, salads, shakes and soups. If it’s the variety, you’re after, stock up your pantry with ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
Dried Fruit: Whilst they might not be the healthiest, they’re a healthier alternative to snacking on sweets and also provide you with a boost in fibre and nutrients. My favourites are goji berries, raisins, sultanas, currants, dates and prunes. Try making some home-made trail mix with some dried fruit, seeds, nuts and dark chocolate. Perfect for those long car journeys.
How to stock your pantry: Canned & Bottled Goods
Tomatoes: I used tinned tomatoes most days, either to make a sauce, soup or for a slow cooker recipe. They are so versatile and an essential component of any pantry. Tomatoes are an excellent source of the antioxidants lycopene (reduces the risk of heart disease, prostate, lung and stomach cancer)and vitamin K. I also keep a good stock of tomato purée on hand to make homemade pasta sauces.
Lentils: Whilst they can often take a while to prepare, they are great nutritious filler for soups, curries and stews. They are also an excellent plant-based source of protein, fibre, potassium folate and iron. The most popular lentils are green, red and brown lentils, all bringing a different texture to the table.
Fish: Whilst tinned fish isn’t as healthy as having a fresh fillet, it is a convenient option for lunches and dinner, adding a protein-kick to any meal. Having a stack of tinned tuna stored away means I can grab a healthy protein source for lunch or when the fridge is looking bare. Make sure the tuna has been sustainably sourced, either line- or pole- caught.
Coconut Milk: Whether you’re looking to make a sauce, curry or bake a cake, tinned coconut milk is necessary. Coconut milk is a rich source of healthy fats, which has been shown to aid weight loss by prolonging the feeling of satiety.
Pumpkin: I love pumpkin purée, and I use it all year round (Yes, not just at Thanksgiving). Make sure your tinned pumpkin is 100% pumpkin, without any added nasty’s. My favourite way to use pumpkin purée is to make vegan cheese sauce for my macaroni and cheese recipe.
How to stock your pantry: Condiments, Sauces, Herbs & Spices
Apple Cider Vinegar: Organic, unrefined apple cider vinegar (with “Mother”) has been a popular superfood for decades. Having a host of health benefits, with suggestions that can aid weight loss, reduce cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and improve symptoms of diabetes, it is defiantly something to have on hand.
Sriracha: I’m addicted to sriracha, squeezing it on literally everything. Consisting of chilli peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt, it can be a healthier alternative to other store-bought sauces.
Coconut Aminos: I prefer to use coconut aminos instead of soya sauce. Whilst they taste similar, it is GF and contains a lot less salt.
Balsamic Vinegar: I love to drizzle balsamic vinegar and lemon on my salads for a tangy and healthy dressing.
Nutritional Yeast: If you’re dairy-free, nutritional yeast can help give your recipes a cheesy flavour. Not only is it yummy, but it is also highly nutritious, adding extra protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your dishes.
Tahini: Tahini makes a delicious, creamy sauce for chicken and roasted veggies. Tahini is a great source of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
Herbs: Herbs are essential to making homemade dishes taste amazing. My go-to herbs are basil, coriander, parsley, chives, sage, rosemary, mint and thyme.
Spices: I love my spices, both sweet and spicy. My go-to spices are cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, curry powder, chilli powder, Chinese 5 spices, cumin and spiced paprika — helping to add flavour to any dish.
How to stock your pantry: Other
Frozen fruit & vegetables: Having a well-stocked freezer will save you having to head to the shop several times a week. My fridge is always stocked up with frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mango, spinach, peas and sweetcorn.
Frozen meat & fish (or meat-free alternatives): It is convenient to have a varied selection of meat and fish to reach for when the fridge is looking bare.
Eggs: I eat an awful lot of eggs, so I always have a couple of cartons stored away in my pantry. Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense things you’ll find; a high-quality protein and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Just make sure to eat the yolks; that’s where you’ll find most of the nutrient content.
Fermented foods: Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles and kombucha can easily be stored away in your pantry and make a yummy addition to your dishes. We all know fermented foods are great for our health, helping aid digestion and build a stronger immune system.
Long-lasting vegetables: I always keep my pantry stocked with onions, garlic and potatoes as they stay fresh for a long-time and are great additions to many of my dishes.
Long-lasting milk: We go through a lot of nut milk in my household, being avid coffee and protein shake drinkers. My go-to nut milk is either almond or oat milk.
Stocking up your pantry with nutritious goodies is a must if you want to stick to a healthy, balanced diet. By making sure you have all your essentials on hand, you will be able to whip up a yummy, nutritious meal with minimal hassle. It’ll save you time, money and energy – what’s not to like?
I’d love to have a sneak peek inside of your pantry – Tag me, @fruitful_flora on Instagram or use the #fruitfulflora to share what you’ve got stashed away in your cupboards.