Stocking a Healthy Pantry


Preparing healthy meals without a lot of fuss can be a real challenge, especially if you’re juggling work, busy kids and other leisure activities. Make it easy to prepare fantastic tasting dishes at a moment’s notice by stocking your pantry with basic organic foods and staples.

If you’ve made the choice to go organic, you’ll want to convert some of your conventional pantry basics to organic options. True, many of the staples you have in your regular pantry are similar to those in an organic pantry, but there are some new things you’ll want to add.

By and large, there are two broad categories to consider when stocking any pantry: perishable and non-perishable. Perishables are things like fresh vegetables, tofu, butter and any other items that will spoil if not stored in a refrigerator or sealed up in your pantry.

Non-perishables – like canned beans, rice and flour – are all ingredients that can be stored nearly indefinitely in your pantry. Here’s a quick list that you can adapt to suit your purposes.

Pantry Essentials (Non-perishables)

Baking Powder and Baking Soda – look for organic varieties.

Beans and Lentils – like rice, there is a whole world of these high-protein, high-fiber staples. You can buy them dry or canned.

Coffee and Tea – get organic, shade-grown, fair trade whenever possible.

Dried Fruits – these are great for adding to baked goods or on salads.

Flour – choose whole grain and stone ground varieties and, in particular, look for unbleached brands.

Jams, Jellies and Preserves – add these to delicious baked goods or spread on a piece of whole grain bread.

Molasses – a healthy addition for many baked and savory dishes.

Olive Oil – one for cooking, which doesn’t have to be extra virgin and the other for making salad dressing and other fresh dishes. You’ll want to purchase high quality extra virgin olive oil for these applications.

Pasta – in addition to whole grain options, look for pastas made from rice, corn and other alternative flours for new flavors and additional nutrients.

Pasta Sauce in a Jar – having flavor-packed organic pasta sauces on hand makes pulling together last-minute meals a snap.

Rice – with so many varieties, and many organic ones, you’ll travel around the world as you discover new tastes and textures.

Sea or Kosher Salt – high quality salt is essential for cooking tasty organic foods.

Tomatoes – keep several cans of crushed or diced tomatoes on hand for emergency pasta sauces or curries.

Vinegars – choose your favorites like red, white, champagne or balsamic.

Pantry Essentials (Perishables)

Bread – whole grain and sprouted varieties are healthiest.

Butter – this is preferable to margarine and adds flavor and depth to any dish.

Eggs – get free-range organic.

Garlic – keep several bunches always on hand in the fridge.

Herbs (fresh) – add lots of vibrant flavor to your dishes with herbs (you can even grow your own).

Mayonnaise – soy mayonnaise made from real ingredients is a great choice.

Mustard – perfect for many casseroles, dressings and marinades.

Nut Butters – these can be used in baking or spread on sandwiches and crackers to provide extra nutrients and flavor.

Nuts – add them to salads, pasta and pesto dishes.

Stocks – chicken and/or vegetable work well to add flavor to many dishes.

Keep a list of the items you use and review it before going shopping. That way, you’ll be able to easily determine the pantry basics you need to restock.

Happy shopping…and healthy eating!