A Dietitian’s Top 5 Pantry Staples

by Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN

Last Updated: August 16, 2021

Having a well-stocked pantry can ease meal preparation throughout the week. Pantry items are key to those quick weeknight meals and snacks. Pantry items are great because their long shelf life means you can always have them on hand. Remember to think about your needs and those of your family when you’re stocking your pantry. Here are 5 top pantry staples I keep in my household.
  1. Quinoa
    Quinoa can be an overlooked grain. Quinoa comes from the spinach family and is a quick option to have in any pantry. You can buy quinoa ready to be microwaved, frozen, or cooked on the stovetop. Keeping a mixture of these options can help depending on the time we have to cook our meal. If you are in a rush, opt for the microwave option. If you have some extra time, opt for the stovetop version. Quinoa is considered a complete protein which means it contains all nine essential amino acids our body cannot produce. Quinoa can be incorporated into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert meals.
  2. Bone Broth
    You can use bone broth in many ways. It can be used in soups, add more flavor when cooking rice or quinoa, and it can be a great addition to any sauces or gravies. Bone broth contains more protein than you would find in a regular chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or broth. Adding in herbs (dill, rosemary, chives), spices (black pepper, turmeric, cumin, cajun), or citrus (lemon, lime, orange) can enhance the flavor of bone broth if consuming alone or in a soup. You can use bone broth interchangeably in any recipe that calls for a broth or stock. Here is a stress-free way to make bone broth in an Instant Pot and a fun way to use it next time you roast potatoes.
  3. Canned Lentils
    Canned lentils are a time saver in my household. They’re not only convenient, but they’re a nutrient-dense option that does not take long to prepare. Canned lentils can be heated on the stovetop, in the microwave, or the oven. In our house, canned lentils make an appearance in oven-baked nachos and lentil mushroom quesadillas. Lentils pack a punch of protein and fiber. When using lentils, try to think outside the box and use them as a substitute for sloppy joe’s, in a salad, or your next taco Tuesday!
  4. Canned Mushrooms
    Canned mushrooms are also a convenient nutrient-dense option like lentils. When properly stored, they can last for over 3 years in the pantry. Just make sure to always check the use-by date. Opting for the “no salt added” version puts us in control of the salt used in the dish or meal. Canned mushrooms can be used interchangeably in any recipe that calls for fresh, frozen, or dried mushrooms. They are naturally fat-free and cholesterol-free while a great way to add fiber and vegetables to any dish. Mushrooms are a great way to change up any meal like mushroom bolognese, burgers, or an omelet.
  5. Canned Peaches and Pears
    It can be frustrating when we buy fresh produce and then have to throw it away a week later because we never got around to using it. That’s why it’s important to have various fresh, frozen, and canned options on hand. That is where canned fruit or individual fruit cups come into play. There’s a myth around canned fruit containing more sugar than regular fruit and that it isn’t as healthy. However, canned fruit in 100% fruit juice ensures us that any sugar comes from the natural fruit itself. Canned fruit is delicious to eat by itself or can be used in fruit salsa, smoothie, or muffins.

Let’s stock up on those pantry items (especially when they are on sale). Having a list of a few go-to quick meal ideas your family loves is great to keep in mind when stocking your pantry. Remember: Cook once to eat twice! This will help with faster meal solutions throughout the week. Let this pantry staple guide inspire your next grocery haul. For more information on including pantry items, book an appointment with one of our Kroger Health Dietitians.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.


Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN

Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN

Kristen believes having a strong relationship with nutrition is key to having a healthy life and that relationship should center around the power of self-love!