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15 Healthy Pantry Staples Nutritionists Always Buy

Updated on May 23, 2024

These healthful shelf-stable ingredients are affordable, easy-to-use and deserve a spot in your pantry.

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How to Stock Your Pantry With Healthy Food

Stocking your pantry doesn’t mean you have to rely only on convenient, but unhealthy foods. It also doesn’t mean you have to buy a bunch of pricy ingredients that you won’t use, or that you don’t even like. There are plenty of common pantry staples that are full of health benefits, and can be used in a multitude of ways.

So what can a healthy, well-stocked pantry look like? We asked registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) which nutritious, easy-to-cook and shelf-stable items they always have on hand – plus, their favorite ways to use them.

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Canned Tuna

“Not only is canned tuna incredibly versatile, but it’s packed with nutrients your body needs,” says Chrissy Carroll, RD and USAT Level I Triathlon Coach. “Crack open a can and you’re treated to both omega-3 fatty acids (key for cognitive and heart health) and protein (for muscle recovery and helping you stay full longer). Not sure what to do with it besides a good ol’ tuna sandwich? Try making a spicy tuna bowl by combining it with rice, cucumbers, avocado, soy sauce and a little Sriracha-infused mayo. Or toss the tuna with some quinoa, chickpeas, tomatoes, parsley and a fresh vinaigrette.”

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Canned Chickpeas

“My one must-have pantry staple is canned chickpeas,” shares Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD, blogger at Teaspoon of Spice and author of The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet. “Toss them into any pasta or grain dish for an instant protein and fiber boost. Mash them and mix into ground beef or ground turkey to extend the amount of meat you are using for chili, tacos or Sloppy Joes. Or make homemade hummus by adding the can (along with the liquid to make it super creamy and smooth) to a blender with two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of peanut butter.”

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Olive Oil

Olive oil is a common pantry fixture and can be used for sautéing, roasting foods, salad dressings and more, says San Francisco Bay Area-based registered dietitian Julie Upton, co-founder of Appetite for Health. “EVOO is one of the foundational foods of the Mediterranean Diet that has long been heralded as one of the healthiest eating patterns to help add more years to your life and life to your years!”

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