What Healthy Foods Should I Have in my Pantry? Part 1

What healthy food should you have in your pantry? As we are having tornado warnings going on here in the Midwest I’m thinking about the food I have in my pantry and how many healthy foods do I have? This also comes in handy to have these healthy foods in your pantry for last minute meals. You can save some money and your diet by storing some healthy nonperishable food items.

Items for a healthy pantry:

1. Canned tuna
This is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids—120 calories and 30 grams of protein in one 6-ounce can. Buy tuna packed in water instead of oil to reduce fat and calories. And look for preparation methods that aren’t mayonnaise based.

2. Instant oatmeal
It’s low in fat and high in fiber, oatmeal is a great filling breakfast or snack. Try skipping the presweetened, flavored oatmeal though. You’re better off adding your own sugar, maple syrup, or honey, as you’re more likely to add less than the manufacturer. Or even better, try to get your palate use to eating it plain. The first few times might have a higher yuck factor, but eventually you’ll get used to it and the other stuff will taste too sweet.

3. Energy bars and shakes
When all else fails energy bars are great. I know several people who are short on time (and also the love of cooking) who practically live on them. But, it’s important to read the label. Some brands are similar to candy bars for nutrients and just have an oat or two mixed in. Try to find bars and shakes that offer a balanced mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fats, such as Beachbody’s P90X® Peak Performance Protein Bars and Meal Replacement Shake, and of course, Shakeology, the Healthiest Meal of the Day®.

4. Peanut butter
 Two tablespoons will give you approximately 8 grams of protein.  You still need to watch the fat grams of the peanut butter you buy. If you get bored with peanut butter, you might give almond or soy nut butter a try. Peanut butters are also fantastic additions to smoothies to make them thicker and creamier.

5. Canned vegetables 
Fresh vegetables are usually better, and organic better still, but the downside of getting rid of nasty preservatives in your veggies is that they tend to spoil faster. Enter frozen and canned vegetables. I think, frozen tastes better, but thawing adds another step to the preparation process, so canned vegetables are a quick fix in a time crunch and just a great nonperishable item to have available. The downside is the amount of sodium that some brands load their veggies with so read the label and find one with the least amount of salt.

6. Canned fruit
Another quick and easy option for a snack at hand. Just try to avoid fruit that has been packed in heavy syrup. Even light syrup isn’t great. Try to find fruit packed in its own juice (some brands have it packed in water, I don’t like it but I haven’t gotten used to it yet).

7. Beans
Canned or dried, it’s great to have a supply of lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans, low-fat refried beans, and/or garbanzos on hand. As with other vegetables, watch the sodium content in the canned beans. Dried beans won’t be as mushy as canned, but can require soaking overnight to achieve a non-tooth-breaking consistency.  Personally I haven’t been able to get dried beans to work out for me, but I just recently found out you get better results with buying name brand vs store brand.

8. Broth and soup
Every good cook should have several cans of chicken, beef, or vegetarian broth on hand—preferably reduced fat and low sodium. Some cooks recommend filling an ice cube tray with broth and using a cube at a time in use of sautéing. To keep things separate I suggest taking them out of the ice cube tray once they’ve frozen and put them in a labeled freezer bag. You wouldn’t want anyone putting that in his or her regular drinks.

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