Having basic "staple" items always stocked in your kitchen makes it easy to prepare healthy meals instead of going out to eat or making an extra trip to the grocery store. Canned and dry foods that are stored in the pantry last longer than the items that are stored in the refrigerator. Keeping a well-stocked pantry means that some of your most-used items will be available without worrying if they have gone bad.
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Dry grains are good sources of fiber and B vitamins.
whole grain cornmeal
whole grain pasta
whole wheat flour
Beans and lentils are good sources of protein and fiber. Dry beans are cheaper than canned and cook in only 45 minutes in a pressure cooker.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can still cook beans quickly by soaking them before you boil them. Soaking also makes the beans easier to digest. Place the beans in a pot and fill with water to cover the beans by 2 or 3 inches. Soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. When you’re ready to cook the beans, drain the soaking water and refill the pot to cover the beans by 2 or 3 inches. Bring the water to a gentle boil and reduce the heat. Allow the beans to simmer for 30 minutes, removing any foam that floats to the surface. Continue to cook until the beans are tender, anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. If the beans look dry, simply add more water.
To cook lentils, rinse thoroughly and add to a pot with 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of lentils. Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are fork-tender.
chickpeas or garbanzos
pink or red beans
Canned vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Rinse and drain canned vegetables to reduce the salt content or buy low-salt or no-salt-added cans.
roasted red peppers
tomatoes (diced, crushed, whole, paste)
mixed vegetable blends
Canned fruits are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Choose items that are packed in 100% juice or water
Canned fish and meats are good sources of protein. Look for items packed in water or brine (concentrated salt water); the oil in oil-packed meats contributes extra calories but no essential nutrients.
Frozen vegetables are an essential to have in the freezer to quickly add vegetables to any meal.
Frozen fruits are great for adding to yogurt or eating as a dessert on their own. The fruits are already sweet enough on their own, so choose items without any added sugar.
Frozen meats last a lot longer than fresh meats. Buy pre-frozen items, or freeze your own by purchasing fresh meats and storing them in the freezer. To defrost, move the package from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow it to defrost naturally.
boneless, skinless chicken breasts