One of my absolute favorite spots in my home is my pantry. 1. Because I love food. 2. Because I love organized food. 3. Because with these staple pantry items I can simply throw a healthy meal together in no time.
The question I get most often is what items should I have in my pantry to eat healthy? It can be very overwhelming to know what to buy and have on hand. These are the items that I always keep stocked because I use them most often. Plus y’all know I like to save money and since I frequently use these items, I save money by only purchasing them when they are on sale. That way when I am meal planning or making a recipe, I am prepared and don’t have to make special trips to the store and possibly have to pay full price for an ingredient.
I got lucky when a local spice store was going out of business and they were selling all their glass jars. I bought about 20 of them and they work perfectly in my pantry. I also like to up-cycle and have saved old glass jars from salad dressings to use to store my seeds. I prefer glass over plastic, because glass does not contain BPA, so I encourage you to save and clean out your used jars to create this look. And of course no pantry organization is complete without my best friend, my label-maker. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom of this post where I share all my tips to achieve an organized pantry.
I love the clean and organized look that clear jars give a pantry. You can look right into the jars to not only see exactly what you have, but how much you have left. I do have another cabinet that I keep a back supply of the items that I stock up on when they are on sale. That way when something is getting low, I can easily fill it up.
Nuts are awesome to have on hand. I love throwing them into recipes for added protein and fiber, and they are also incredible snacks to help curb hunger in between meals. Nuts are packed with vitamins and nutrients and have been linked to lowering cholesterol and better heart health.
Tip: Try adding nuts to your favorite salad for added flavor and texture.
Beans Beans they’re good for your heart, the more you eat the more you…put them in your cart. LOL you thought I was going to say something else didn’t you? But beans really are amazing in so many ways. Not only are they loaded with protein, but they also are digested slowly which helps stabilize your blood glucose levels. These nutrient packed legumes are also super affordable, and for those living on a budget beans go a long way.
Tip: Try to mostly use dry beans, but when time isn’t on your side, be sure to have your canned beans stocked as well.
I love the Simple Truth Organic canned beans because of the ingredients, they are simple – water, beans, sea salt.
Beans (Dry & Canned):
Seeds may be tiny, but they are mighty when it comes to nutrition. They are perfect to add to salads or your own trail mix. My favorite seeds are chia seeds and I add them to my morning smoothies everyday. Chia seeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, plus give you protein, fiber, calcium, they’re packed with antioxidants and are a great detox for your body.
Tip: Up-cycle old salad dressing bottles, making the perfect container to store and pour your seeds when needed.
Dry Foods are also important to have on hand. Dried fruit especially makes great snacks. (My husband is obsessed with the dried papaya, he claims it taste just like swedish fish!) You can find a lot of these items in the bulk foods sections at Whole Foods, and some Kroger stores have also started a bulk foods section. Quinoa is a must in our household. Many times when I don’t feel like being creative in the kitchen, roasting some vegetables and serving on top of quinoa can pull a healthy and easy meal together in no time.
Tip: There are so many options for dried snacks, but be sure you read the labels, often you will see added sugar to items that don’t need it and you can usually find a similar option without the sugar.
- Trail Mix
- Dried Bananas
- Dried Papaya
- Dried Mango
- Dried Cranberries
- Red Quinoa
- Steel Cut Oats
- Split Peas
Healthy oils are essential for cooking. I recommend extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil. I also have local honey on hand to add to tea or to use as a sweetener instead of added sugars. Broths are also great to keep on hand for those quick and easy crockpot meals.
Tip: Buy a large container of coconut oil. It costs around $24, but lasts us about 2 months and you get more bang for your buck with the larger jar.
Oils & (Liquids):
- Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 54 Ounce
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Chicken Broth
- Vegetable Broth
- Beef Broth
Cans & Jars
There are also a variety of other essential pantry items that I always have on hand. Tomato sauce and paste to use as a base to make homemade sauce. Also, many crockpot meals – soups and chilis call for these ingredients so it is important to always have these items stocked. Also tahini, this is used to make homemade hummus and stir-fry. And of course salsa, because who doesn’t love salsa.
Tip: I love making my own homemade pasta sauce to put over zoodles (zucchini noodles), but it is always good to have back ups and have some healthy pre-made sauce on hand for those quick dinners.
Cans & Jars:
Spices are simply a must. They are what can transform your meal from bland and boring to delicious and indulging. It took me a while to get comfortable with using spices (a lot of spices). We grow basil, oregano, and cilantro and I love fresh spices, but you definitely need to have dry spices on hand. But beware of spice “blends” most of the time these are laced with natural flavorings and chemicals. You can usually make your own blend using a combination of spices. There is however one exception to this rule in our household. My husband is from Maryland and he puts Old Bay on everything! And I mean everything. That is something I have learned to accept. (I mean did I really have a choice?)
Tip: Experiment with spices and flavors on chicken. Everyone has different taste buds and you need to explore to see what flavors make your mouth water. Cut up some chicken and use a different spice on each section, this will help you get comfortable with tastes and flavoring.
Another Tip: Whole Foods has a new bulk spice section and I am in love with it. It is so much more affordable to buy organic spices in bulk.
- Garlic Powder
- Cayenne Pepper
- Chili Powder
- Onion Powder
- Italian Seasoning
- Old Bay
Essential Oils are also frequently used in our household and in our kitchen. I use dōTERRA essential oils I love adding a drop of Citrus Bliss into our green smoothies in the morning or a drop of lemon into hot water or tea. There are many many many uses of oils and I honestly could not live without them.
Tip: Don’t have a lime? Use a drop of lime essential oil in your beer.
Essential Oils (ones I use to cook with):
- Citrus Bliss
To create an Organized Pantry, here are some additional tips:
- Up-cycle or purchase stackable clear containers.
- Clearly label your jars for easy reference.
- Group items by type so you know exactly where to find an item.
- Purchase a tiered rack for your spices, cans, or jars to maximize space and visibility.
- Strategically place the items you use most frequently low and accessible.
- Don’t let your husband put your groceries away. (hehe)
(Okay that last tip was a joke, but if you create a system together with your spouse and family giving every item a place, they should easily be able to help themselves to items and put them back where they’ve found them. It may take practice and patience, but remember kind reminders will eventually turn into routines for everyone.)
Thank you for taking a look inside my organized pantry. By having a stocked and organized pantry it makes grocery shopping easy. Each week I buy my fresh produce and meat for my meals and any other staple items that are getting low (if they are on sale). When you create an organized and balanced pantry you have a sense of zen in the kitchen. Cooking doesn’t seem as much of a chore when you are at peace with the ingredients you are using. I love opening my pantry and knowing what we are putting into our bodies and that gives us reason to smile. I like to think my jars are smiling back at me.