10 Pantry Staples for Healthy Meals

By Gina Matsoukas May 6, 2014

I have a pantry stocking problem. Really, it’s like a sickness and I’m pretty sure it’s genetic because I guarantee you I could find cans and boxes of food items that have a “best by” date of at least 5 years ago in my mom’s house. I swear, we’re not the people you see on hoarders, we just like a well stocked pantry! There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of cooking a meal only to realize you ran out of a basic thing like canned tomatoes. Ulysses operates the exact opposite of this however, which has made for a *fun* 7.5 years of living together when I’m constantly trying to justify the need for 6 different cans of beans at all times as the flimsy wire shelves in our pantry bow under the weight. But seriously, a well stocked pantry is key to not only quick & easy meals, but healthy ones too. The first thing I did when I was actively trying to lose weight was throw out all the processed crap and re-stock my pantry & cabinets with basics to create healthy meals. Today, I’m sharing what I think are the 10 pantry staples for healthy meals and recipes to go along with them!

I love this stuff. Maybe it’s the Italian in me, but this is my cooking oil of choice 90% of the time. Coconut oil takes up another 9% and a variety of others make an occasional appearance for that last 1%. It’s delicious enough to use on salads and eat straight up and it’s versatile enough to hold up well in stove top cooking. The “extra virgin” means it’s the least processed of any types of oil and therefore has more monounsaturated fats than other olive oils which may have benefits for your heart.

Lemony tomato herb scallops
Meyer lemon roasted carrot strings

Quinoa is like the grain that’s too good to be true. And that’s probably because it’s not really a grain, it’s a seed. But hey, it cooks like a grain, tastes like a grain…so yeah, in my mind it’s a grain. The one big difference with quinoa is that it’s a complete protein. No other grain can boast that on it’s resume. It’s also packed with calcium, iron and fiber. It’s a great way to “healthify” a dish traditionally made with rice or pasta.

Cheddar chicken quinoa bake
Turkey quinoa muffins
Cashew quinoa granola

*This post was originally published on Gina’s blog, Running to the Kitchen. To read the rest of Gina’s pantry staples, as well as recipes for each ingredient, click here.


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