5 Pantry Staples You Should Always Have for Healthy Eating, According to Dietitians

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Now that sheltering-in-place has become the new normal, many of us are feeling over our pandemic indulgences (or realizing we need to get over them). Besides, one can only stress eat for so long… right? By stocking up on these dietitian-approved foods, you can give your kitchen a nutritious reset while preparing for (more) pantry eating.

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Oats

For the most bang for your buck, stock up on oats. You can eat them for breakfast, add it to smoothies, or make oat bars. Plus, “it’s a good source of protein and fiber, both of [which] help you feel more satisfied until your next meal,” says dietitian Megan Wong, RD. “You’ll also get a decent amount of potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin A.”

Brown Rice

“Stocking brown rice [in bulk] means you always have high-fiber, complex carbohydrates on hand,” explains Liz Wyosnick MS, RDN, dietitian and owner of Equilibriyum. It also offers a rich cocktail of essential nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin B6, and selenium. Zest it up with your favorite spices or use it in a tasty pilaf.

Canned Fish

Canned tuna and salmon are perfect for quickly bulking up a meal. Wyosnick also recommends reaching for canned sardines, anchovies, and mackerel, which are some of the highest sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. (Take a note from Wyosnick and buy canned fish in oil—then use the oil as salad dressing.)

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Lentils

When it comes to healthy pantry foods, lentils are your best friend. “One cup of cooked lentils packs in 18 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber, and 6.5 grams of iron,” says Wong. “That’s about the same amount of protein [in] a 3-ounce serving of ground beef.” Try making hearty plant-based meals like lentil burgers and stews.

Broth

While you’re at it, ditch the water and use broth to make rice and lentils. “Shelf-stable chicken, vegetable, and bone broth are easy shortcuts [for] adding more flavor and nutrients,” says Wyosnick. You can also use broth to make a simple soup with canned veggies and tomato paste.

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