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When you want to throw together a quick, nutritious meal, you should make sure to have a well-stocked kitchen but when food is healthier, it can mean that it may go bad quicker than foods with lots of preservatives. Ideally, you would want to include foods that will stay fresh for at least 2 weeks while also keeping a good variety for a balanced, healthy diet.
Here are 7 healthy staples that you should always have in your pantry or cabinet:
Grains: a great option for convenience and versatility is grain-based dishes like salads, soups, and pilafs. Depending on the type of grain, most can be kept safely at room temperature for months to years, making them a smart and frugal choice to buy in bulk. Another benefit of grains is that they are an excellent source of micronutrients and fiber.
Nuts & Seeds: Nuts and seeds are full of nutrition and provide healthy fats, protein, fiber, and important vitamins and minerals. Depending on the type, nuts and seeds can be kept at room temperature for 1–4 months, making them an ideal ingredient to store easily. Natural nut and seed butters such as sunflower butter or almond butter are typically long-lasting, healthy alternatives to processed butters, which usually contain added sugar.
Honey & Maple Syrup: Honey and maple syrups are our favorite natural sweeteners that offer unique health benefits - both are rich in antioxidants. These can be used to add both sweet and savory flavors to any dish.
Dried Fruit: While dried fruit can be high in calories, it can be nice to have on hand to enjoy on its own or add to salads and cooked dishes. Make sure to opt for low or no sugar added varieties. Raisins, Craisins, Dried Banana Chips or apple rings are all delicious options to keep in stock.
Non-fat dry milk: Keeping dry milk in your pantry is a fantastic way to always have milk on hand, whether for recipes or otherwise. Dry Milk is also an inexpensive protein, has a longer shelf life than regular milk, and can even be mixed with real milk to add extra protein or creaminess.
Canned tuna, salmon, or chicken: If you're not vegan or vegetarian, these lean protein choices are an easy addition to many meals, from pasta, salads or sandwiches. Canned tuna and salmon also provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for healthy brain and heart function.
Long-lasting fresh fruits and veggies: Most varieties of fresh fruits and veggies can fairly quickly even in refrigeration but there are quite a few long-lasting varieties to keep in storage. Sweet potatoes, some varieties of squash, apples, beets, cabbage, rutabagas, pomegranate, carrots, and citrus fruits are just a few examples of fruits or veggies that can keep for several weeks or more when stored in the fridge or on the counter.
Having your home stocked with healthy foods can ensure that you always have ingredients on hand to prepare a healthy meal. By purchasing a few of the foods listed above during your next few grocery outings, your kitchen will be fully stocked with healthy food staples before you know it.