Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Stocking a Healthy Pantry | Family Economics
By Alison Lewis
Having a well-stocked pantry in your home can lead to some very delicious and spontaneous meals. Healthy eating starts at home and having the right ingredients on hand is sure to keep you on track to a healthy lifestyle – especially during the holiday season! Stock your pantry with the below go-to ingredients and you’ll always be prepared to whip up a fast and healthy meal.
Oils, vinegars & condiments: In my opinion, the below list are ‘essential’ ingredients that should never be forgotten at the grocery store. From basic condiments like butter and mustard, to something we use daily like oil, most of these items have become a necessity when preparing a meal.
- Extra-virgin olive oil (used for cooking and salad dressings)
- Canola oil (used for cooking and baking)
- Butter, preferably unsalted
- Mustard, my preference: Dijon
- Flavorful nut and seed oils for salad dressings and stir-fry seasonings such as toasted sesame oil or walnut oil
- Mayonnaise, preferably reduced-fat
- Vinegars such as balsamic, red-wine, white-wine, sherry, apple cider
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce
- Kalamata olives or green olives
Seasoning: From pantry spices to seasoning your dish with real fruit, these ingredients help add flavor to an otherwise boring dish. Making sure that your pantry is always stocked with at least five of the below items, will ensure your children’s plates are always licked clean!
- Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
- Dried herbs including: bay leaves, dill, crumbled dried sage, dried thyme leaves, oregano, tarragon and Italian seasoning blend
- Spices including: chili powder, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, curry powder, ground ginger, dry mustard, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper and turmeric
- Black peppercorns
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Onion powder or real onions
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh ginger
- Lemons, limes and oranges for topping (Organic fruit is recommended when using a lot of zest)
- Pure maple syrup
- Quality jams or preserves
- Unsweetened cocoa powder, natural and/or Dutch-processed
- Dark chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips
Canned goods: Stock your pantry with each of the below items and you will be covered for dinner the next time you’re on a tight schedule. Keeping canned goods such as chicken broth or tuna on hand will prepare you for the next time you don’t have time to make a gourmet dinner. Soup or tuna sandwiches it is!
- Canned tomatoes, tomato paste
- Reduced-sodium chicken broth, beef and/or vegetable broth
- Canned beans: cannellini beans, chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans (low salt when possible)
- Canned lentils
- Chunk white tuna and Alaskan canned salmon
Grains & legumes: Choosing healthier options such as whole wheat flours, pastas and brown rice, is an easy transition with minimal sacrifices to your taste buds. Next time you’re preparing dinner, substitute your regular pasta for a whole wheat version (without telling your diners) and watch as your children’s reaction. Mine didn’t even notice the switch!
- Whole wheat flour
- Assorted whole-wheat pastas
- Brown rice (instant and regular)
- Pearl barley, quick-cooking
- Rolled oats
- Whole-wheat couscous
- Dried lentils
Nuts, seeds & fruits: Having an array of healthy snack options in your home not only provides nutritional benefits for your family, but also sets an example for your children’s future eating habits.
- Nuts including: walnuts, pecans, almonds, pine nuts and peanuts, dry-roasted and unsalted
- Seeds including: pumpkin, sesame and flaxseeds
- Natural nut butters
- Assorted dried fruits
Which pantry ingredients must you always have on hand?