As we saw during the onset of the pandemic, having a stocked pantry is not just something of a convenience, it can become quite essential at the drop of a hat. But of course, there are other advantages to food storage. The most enticing? The best pantry items last, on average, four months to a year without spoiling — meaning 1) you always have the building blocks of a health-conscious home-cooked meal and 2) you can say goodbye to impulsively ordering take-out because there’s nothing on-hand.
If that sounds like something you’re into, here are the must-have items for a healthy, useful pantry that lasts.
Nuts & Seeds
Satisfying, wholesome and super for snacking, you don’t have to be a health nut (sorry — couldn’t resist) to enjoy this pantry staple. Eating more nuts has been linked to lower risk of obesity, according to a long-term study conducted by the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. Nuts and seeds (think: chia, flax and sunflower) are good sources of fibre and essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
For sweet and savoury mixes, top a green salad with walnuts and raisins (or cranberries, if raisins make you sour) or add sliced almonds and hazelnuts to a chilled cup of yoghurt or chia seed pudding. Naturally gluten- and grain-free, they’re convenient snacks for those with common food allergies (sans nut allergies, of course).
Keep unopened packages for six months past their best-by dates.
Unlike their more finicky counterparts, the vegetable, fruits can be processed in a way that savours their flavour for months at a time. Although fruits are typically high in a wonderful assortment of vitamins and nutrients, water is removed during the drying process — meaning the natural sugars in the fruit are concentrated. So keep your eyes peeled when munching on these delicious snacks, it’s easy to overconsume them! Add them sparingly to morning oats, midday salads or nighttime parfaits. Store them in a dry place for up to one year.
Ready to stock up on nuts, seeds and fruit? Head here to browse our plentiful blends.
Grains truly make the basis of most meals. You have your grains of rice — Arborio rice for a Risotto, Basmati rice for coconut curry — and your “wild card” grains such as Couscous for a hearty Morrocan meal. Next, you have your grain legumes: beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts. These are true vegan stars, creating the bulk of many amazing recipes from soup to vegan burger patties.
And the best part? When choosing whole grains such as these, they are hefty plant-based protein sources. For example, black beans contain more than seven grams of protein per half a cup! So rest assured you’ll have protein stock that lasts for months without spoiling. Simply keep your grains in airtight containers. Check out our full guide to storing grains here.
No kitchen is complete without proper baking supplies. And while you may not be ready to recreate grandmother’s classic recipes, you’ll do well with a few types of flour on-hand. The trick is knowing which ones.
While all-purpose white flour is good for, well, all purposes, wheat flour can replace it for a healthier option in many recipes such as pizza dough, homemade roux, zucchini bread, muffins and much more.
For sweet treats such as cookies, cakes and pancakes, head for the naturally sweet, almost Marzipan-Esque, almond flour. Gluten-free and low-carb, it’s a must-have pantry addition for those moments you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.
For bread making, turn to buckwheat, chickpea or organic white cassava flour. Many people prefer the latter for grain-free baking.
Also try vegan-friendly, low-fat and delicious polenta. Made from dried maize, it’s a good source of fibre, protein and iron and is the perfect side for any protein or savoury veggie dish (such as mushrooms).
When stored in a cool, dry place, flour will keep for at least one year. Sound good? Browse our selection of flours here.
Oats are an awesome way to get energy-loving carbohydrates in the morning to keep you going all day long. Opt for the larger oats for slower absorption in the bloodstream, meaning no sugar crash later on. Turn to the finer-milled variety for porridge and smoothie additions.
For those days you don’t feel like cooking, pre-packaged cereal and Muesli are great options. As they are typically mixes of oats, wheat-based items, dried fruit and seeds, everything inside is non-perishable.
An even better idea? Combining dried and puffed cereals with honey toasted oats, rye flakes, nuts and your favourite sweet additions to create homemade muesli or granola bars!
These items are good up to one year in a pantry, presuming they’re stored in an air-tight container; otherwise, you’re looking at stale cereal which, to be frank, is a poor way to start the morning.
Dive into the Wholefood Earth cereal & flake options here!
Minerals & Salts
Every recipe calls for a pinch of salt. In addition to everyday table salt, you’ll want to stock up on cousin, Himalayan pink salt, which boasts less sodium and more minerals. For true salt lovers? Try coarse sea salt for sweet treats that pack a punch.
Now, salt isn’t just for making recipes come alive. It’s also for setting your self-care routine off just right. Turn to ultra-relaxing Epsom salt to ease sore muscles and Israeli Dead Sea salt to nourish and help heal itchy, dry skin in the bath.
Ready to stock up? Check out the salt & mineral collection here.
Maybe there’ve been one too many post-apocalyptic movies, but no pantry looks complete without tins abound. From hearty soups to baked beans to canned veggies and fish, they certainly are convenient and last, well, indefinitely! The problem with tinned items? “Foods are sealed and preserved by pressure cooking them at a very high temperature,” according to BBC News online. “Like regular cooking, this destroys some of the nutrients,” they add. Not to mention — salt, sugar and fat are sometimes added to make them taste better. When possible, opt for fresh veg and meats you can store in the fridge.
Extra Pantry Essentials
Coconut Milk: Unlike dairy milk, coconut milk often comes in a non-perishable tin can. Use it for curry, full-fat soups and even Paleo-friendly frostings on delicious homemade sweets.
Vinegar: The tart liquid, such as distilled white or apple cider, lasts indefinitely. Use them for dressings, marinades, and cooking meats.
Pickled Items: For an added bite, try kimchi, pickled beets, or sauerkraut. They keep indefinitely until opened, at which point you’ll want to store in the fridge.
Peanut Butter: A universal favourite in the spread and a commonly seen item amongst healthy pantry staples.
Sauce: Don't forget your condiments. Soy sauce is a go-to for extra flavour in healthy dishes.
Oils: Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and, for the millennials out there, avocado oil, are a great addition to a pantry.
Apple Cider Vinegar: While it may not come up high on many ingredients lists, Apple Cider Vinegar has an extraordinary range of uses from baking fluffy cakes to relieving headaches.
Now that you have a stocked pantry, you can create an assortment of affordable, healthy meals any day of the week — not to mention you’re prepared for the next time the supermarkets decide to clear out of real food for healthy eating! And may we add: bon appetit knowing you’re eating sustainably sourced, whole foods and none of the pre-packaged, frozen dinners. With a packed pantry like this, you’ll see how nutritious cooking can be convenient too.
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