Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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Top 12 Healthy Pantry Essentials
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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Now that you’ve mastered the art of healthy grocery shopping, you’re probably wondering how else you can make healthier choices in the kitchen!  One of the easiest ways to eat healthier is to cook your own meals, as much as possible.  That way, you know exactly what you are putting on your plates and in your mouths.  The first step in cooking healthier meals is stocking your pantry full of healthy ingredients that you can incorporate into lots of different recipes.  Here’s a list of some of my favorites!

  • Canned tomatoes are one of the most versatile items you can stock up on!  Add them to stews, chili, or make your own pasta sauce.
  • Spice up your food with a well-stocked spice rack! Besides their numerous health benefits, using spices like cinnamon, oregano, thyme and ginger  to flavor your food can help you reduce your salt intakes.
  • Frozen vegetables are great to keep on hand, especially when your favorite veggies are out of season or not available at the grocery store.  Plus, research shows that they are just as nutritious as fresh veggies, since they’re packed at their peak!
  • Extra-virgin olive oil may be a little pricey, but it’s worth the investment in your health!  Full of healthy fats, it can be used for things like roasting vegetables, salad dressings, or even in homemade hummus.


  • Black beans,are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.  Whether canned or dried, they can be an addition to chili, pastas, soups, or even lasagna!
  • Fill up your freezer with your favorite frozen fruit – they can be used for an energizing morning smoothie, added to your favorite yogurt, or even simmered in a saucepan into a berry sauce for French toast or pancakes.


  • Eggs are perhaps nature’s perfect little protein package, wrapped up in an assortment of essential vitamins and minerals!  Have them on hand for breakfast omelettes, to hard-boil for on top of lunch salads, and for baking healthy treats!
  • One of the healthiest breakfasts you can have is oatmeal, so stocking up on rolled oats means you always have them on hand to whip up a quick breakfast.  Try swapping out your regular morning cereal for a warm bowl of oatmeal for a filling breakfast that will give you lasting energy throughout the day.
  • An essential pantry ingredient is 100% pure honey. It is a natural sweetener which is versatile and delicious. It goes great in smoothies and my children love to eat peanut butter and honey sandwiches with bananas on whole wheat bread.
  • Another perfect little protein source can be found in nuts and nut butters – although calorie-dense, they give you that healthy fat boost to your meals and snacks, and can help lower your cholesterol levels.  Try a handful of almonds or a tablespoon of almond butter with sliced apples for your next snack.


  • Whole grains are the backbone of a healthy diet – branch out from rice and try some other alternatives, such as quinoa, bulgur (cracked wheat), or barley.  Plan your meals around these grains for a healthy dose of fiber!

What is your number one pantry essential?  I’m sure there are more great staples out there that I’ve missed here!  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Assistance provided by Megan Skinner

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