10 Healthy Ingredients This Nutritionist Keeps Stocked in Her Pantry

updated May 21, 2020
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I typically use the change in seasons as an opportunity to take stock of my pantry. I find I’m a smarter grocery shopper and a happier eater when I know what exactly my pantry holds; a cluttered, messy pantry makes meal planning feel close to impossible. That’s why, after I sort through anything that’s expired or needs to be used up, I like to replenish my pantry with plenty of nutrient-dense, shelf-stable ingredients.

I recently did a little pantry check-in for spring, and these are the 10 ingredients I re-stocked up on for healthful meals.

Credit: Heather McClees

1. Whole Grains

Whole grains like quinoa, barley, millet, and brown rice are great to stock your pantry with. They offer a nutrient-dense way to bulk up dinners. Wild rice, in particular, is a lunchtime favorite because it is low-glycemic and higher in protein and fiber than regular rice.

My pick: Lundberg Wild Blend Rice, $9.54 for three 16-ounce bags at Walmart

Credit: Heather McClees

2. Canned Tuna and Salmon

Wild Planet is the only brand of canned of fish that I’ll buy because it’s sustainably caught and really high-quality when it comes to taste and nutritional profile. From a nutritional standpoint, wild tuna and salmon are great sources of lean protein, omega-3’s, B vitamins, zinc, and iron. I like to keep several cans of their no-salt-added tuna and no-salt-added salmon cans on hand — they’re great on top of salads and chopped veggies.

My pick: Wild Planet Albacore Tuna, $13.44 for four 5-ounce cans at Walmart

Credit: Heather McClees

3. Pre-Portioned Almonds

I like to make sure I always have 100-calorie almond packets on hand to pair with seasonal fruit for an afternoon snack — it helps to make sure I get enough balanced nutrients during the day. Because they’re pre-portioned, I find that I get through these pouches faster than I would a larger bag (so they never run the risk of going rancid). It’s also the easiest way to add the right amount of nuts to smoothie bowls and salads.

My pick: Blue Diamond 100-Calorie Almond Packs, $10.74 for 12 pouches

Credit: Heather McClees

4. Salt-Free Seasonings

My trick for making meals healthier without restricting calories or portion size is just to use salt-free seasoning instead of high-sodium blends. I like Costco’s Kirkland Signature version. I use it on salads, cut-up fresh veggies, tuna or salmon, eggs, and whole grains. I also like to stir it into nonfat plain Greek yogurt for quick healthy dip!

My pick: Kirkland Signature Organic No-Salt Seasoning, $13.98 for 14.5 ounces

Credit: Heather McClees

5. Greens Powders

Greens powders are something I always have on hand, but they’re especially key during spring since I make so many more smoothies and juices during the warmer months. I love to blend a packet (or scoop) of greens powder into smoothies and seasonal vegetable juices for an instant nutrient boost.

My picks: Amazing Grass, $22 for 8.5 ounces; Garden of Life, $29 for 7.3 ounces; and Daily Green Boost, $31 for 8 ounces

Credit: Heather McClees

6. Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Raw pumpkin seeds are little nutrition powerhouses! In addition to tasting great, they also pack protein, fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc, and chlorophyll. Raw pumpkin seeds give salads, yogurt, smoothie bowls, and oatmeal a little extra texture and crunch. Keep them in a large Mason jar in your pantry or portion them into little pre-portioned baggies and use them with ease. 

My pick: Organic No-Shell Pumpkin Seeds, $8 for 1 pound at Nuts.com

Credit: Heather McClees

7. Plain Instant Oatmeal Packets

Quaker’s Original Instant Oatmeal is the only instant oatmeal I buy because it doesn’t contain any added oils, sugars, or high levels of sodium. It also has the same fiber, protein, and calories per ounce as regular oats. I like the spreed and convenience of these packets because they cook up quicker than regular cooking oats do — which means less time standing over the stove during warmer weather. 

My pick: Quaker Instant Oatmeal Value Pack, $4.88 for 24 one-ounce packets at Walmart

Credit: Heather McClees

8. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar and fresh lemon juice are my go-to ingredients to dress my salads with. Even though I’m quite picky about what kind of balsamic I buy, I’m also price-conscious and have found that you can get a great bottle at the supermarket for a decent price.

My picks: Colavita Balsamic Vinegar, $3.69 for 17-ounces at Target; and Di Nigris Balsamic Vinegar, $3.74 for 33 ounces at Walmart

Credit: Heather McClees

9. Dried Figs

Dried figs are one of my favorite healthy snacks to have on hand because they’re full of calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium, making them a nutrient-dense and filling snack with zero added sugar. They’re perfect for making no-bake bites made with nuts and seeds. I also like to chop them up and put them on top of yogurt bowls or salads, and add them to overnight oats.

My pick: Sunny Fruit Organic Figs, $19 for 40-ounces

Credit: Heather McClees

10. Herbal Tea

During the winter, I love a hot cup of tea, but as the weather warms up, I love to make iced tea and serve it with fresh lemon. It’s an easy way to stay hydrated, and because it’s unsweetened it’s a better option than most packaged iced teas. I tend to buy fruitier blends for springtime and look for ones that contain hibiscus, rooibos, citrus fruits, and/or berries.

My picks: Celestial Seasonings Red Berry, $12.70 for 3 boxes, and Celestial Seasonings Wild Berry Zinger, $2.37 per box at Walmart

What are your go-to pantry ingredients? Let us know in the comments!