Your ultimate guide for a healthy pantry shopping list to make sure you have plenty of delicious foods on hand that will support your goals!
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The Importance of a Healthy Pantry
The reason why having a stocked, healthy pantry is so essential for making progress towards your weight management goals is simple. It makes sense that people will eat the foods most easily available to them.
Ideally, you want to have a pantry that is full of healthy foods instead of higher-calorie processed foods you may crave. I don’t know about you, but no matter how many healthy options I have at home, there are a few junk foods that I can’t help snacking on (I’m looking at you, gummy bears!).
This is why I recommend stocking up on the healthy pantry items below and also getting rid of the processed foods over time (throw them away, donate them, or just don’t buy them again).
Your Healthy Pantry Shopping List
I created this resource to be your one-stop-shop, so all of these items are available on Amazon for you to conveniently order as you go through this list. All links in a new tab, so you won’t lose your place on this page!
Condiments & Spices
The base of healthy cooking is learning how to prepare foods simply with flavorful spices and condiments that either provide nutritious benefits (e.g., extra-virgin olive oil) or are low-calorie (e.g., mustard).
If you regularly use high-calorie condiments like ranch, blue cheese dressing, and mayonnaise, I would highly recommend making easy swaps from the list below to increase the nutrients in your meals and lower the calories.
- Heart-healthy oils for cooking
- Extra-virgin olive oil (my go-to for sauteeing or roasting vegetables)– quality matters here to maximize health benefits, look for organic and cold-pressed, ideally in a dark bottle, like Olizzi!
- Avocado oil– excellent for high-heat cooking, I love this organic variety by Nutiva
- Avocado oil cooking spray– for non-stick, high-heat cooking
- Ghee– clarified butter that has anti-inflammatory benefits compared to regular butter, look for grass-fed, lactose-free brands like my favorite, 4th and heart
- Condiments (nutrient-dense and/or low-calorie)
- Organic, vegetable-based hot sauce, like ZANA‘s brand
- Mustard, any variety, ideally organic if possible (like this one)
- Vinegar, great for cooking or as salad dressing, try apple cider vinegar, red-wine vinegar, and balsalmic vinegar with no added sugars
- Ketchup, without high-fructose corn syrup, tomatoes should be the first ingredient, I love this variety by Sir Kensington
- Tamari– tastes just like soy sauce but is made from 100% soy instead of just 40-60% soy from typical soy sauce
- Primal Kitchen’s unsweetened barbecue sauces
- Salad dressing, ideally use olive oil + lemon juice, but if you need a healthier variety of your favorite flavor (like ranch!), Primal Kitchen has the best tasting healthy salad dressings out there!
- Tahini– rich, sesame flavor that can be enjoyed on its own or as the base for delicious dips (like hummus!), marinades, and dressings
- Spices (the best way to add LOTS of flavor to your cooking for no calories!)
- Garlic- in water (not soybean oil). My fiancé and I cook with a ridiculous amount of garlic because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. (Tip: if you both have garlic breath, it’s no big deal!)
- Spice set- this one will cover just about anything a recipe would call for!
- Salt-free rubs for chicken, fish, or steak
- Exotic spice blends for switching up your go-to ways of preparing dishes (try the Thai curry!)
Having healthy baking ingredients on hand makes it easy to try out lighter recipes of the sweets you may be craving as you change your eating habits. Here are my go-to baking essentials:
- Unsweetened applesauce– the BEST tasting substitute for butter in baking recipes, I personally think this makes breads and muffins even more moist than the original recipe!
- Raw, unfiltered honey for a natural sweetener alternative to white sugar
- Pure maple syrup as another natural sweetener alternative to white sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Stevia, a zero-calorie sweetener to replace white sugar for baking, look for brands that are 100% stevia with no fillers like this one! (For more info about zero-calorie sweeteners, check out my article that breaks down the science about their nutritional value!)
- Monkfruit, another zero-calorie sweetener to replace white sugar
- Brown monkfruit, a zero-calorie sweetener to replace brown sugar
- Almond flour or coconut flour as alternatives to refined white flour that preserve the texture of your baking recipe
- Crazy Richard’s 100% peanut butter– peanuts should always be the only ingredient in your peanut butter! My fiancé and I are obsessed with this brand.
- Powdered peanut butter– great for getting that peanut butter flavor for a very small fraction of the calories and fat content
- Almond butter, again look for almonds as the only ingredient!
- Oats, either old-fashioned rolled oats or steel cut oats (also make a delicious breakfast option!)
- Unsweetened cacao powder (has more nutrients than cocoa powder and a richer taste!)
- Dark chocolate baking chips, look for 70%+ cacao
Canned & Bottled Goods
Canned/bottled foods can be a healthy base, side dish, or addition to your meals and are super easy to prepare. I recommend keeping these staples around:
- Beans– all varieties, opt for organic, low-sodium or no salt added when possible (Eden Organics checks all of these boxes!)
- Chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)– delicious for making hummus or as a base for vegetarian meals
- Tomatoes– easy to add in to dishes like soups and omelets for a nutrious boost! I love Muir Glen for organic canned tomatoes!
- Amy’s low-sodium canned soups– a good meal option with veggies on a busy day
- Canned wild-caught salmon (SafeCatch brand tests every single salmon for mercury)
- Canned wild-caught tuna (again, SafeCatch has the lowest mercury tuna versus any other brand)
- Bone broth or low-sodium vegetable broth– highly flavorful for sauteeing vegetables as an alternative to using oil
- Tomato-based pasta sauce, look for brands with minimal or no added sugar, Rao’s does it best!
- Unsweetened, shelf-stable milk substitutes, such as almond milk, flaxseed milk, or oat milk
- Unsweetened canned coconut milk, good base for rich-tasting, nutrient-dense sauces like coconut curry
Here are some ideas for grains to include in your meals that will not spike your blood sugar as high as white pasta or white rice. You may be surprised at how delicious some of these can be!
- Chickpea pasta has 20g of protein per serving and is a perfect alternative to white flour pasta, Banza is my go-to brand!
- Other brand for pasta alternatives is The Only Bean. Check out their edamame or black bean spaghetti!
- Hearts of palm linguine– different texture than pasta but only 60 calories and per 12g carbs per CAN. Hearts of palm is a plant-based pasta alternative with many nutrients! The Palmini brand was featured on Shark Tank!
- Long-grain brown rice
- Wild rice
- Black forbidden rice
- Seeds of Change microwave-ready brown rice and quinoa
- Bulgur (an ancient Mediterranean grain used to make pilaf recipes, use as you would rice)
- Microwave-ready lentils
Having some shelf-stable breakfast options on hand is helpful on busy mornings. The key is to avoid high-carb options that will spike your blood sugar and leave you hungry soon after eating. Here are some of my favorite picks!
- Low-sugar oatmeal (look for fewer than 3g sugar per packet), I recommend adding protein powder to oatmeal to reduce the blood sugar spike, check out my top picks for protein powder here
- Orgain is one of the top brands for protein powder, and they are offering my readers 25% off of their best selling protein powders
- Overnight oats with protein, just add unsweetened almond milk!
- High-protein pancake/waffle mix, my favorite brands are Kodiak Cakes and Birch Benders
- Try with a sugar-free syrup alternative, organic and sweetened with erythritol
- Catalina Crunch brand’s cereals that have 0g sugar, 9g fiber, and 11g protein per serving!
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are incredibly nutritious snack options that will provide you with heart-healthy sources of fat and keep you full between meals. Always opt for raw varieties that have not been roasted in inflammatory oils (like soybean or canola oil) and loaded up with salt!
- Raw cashews
- Raw almonds
- Raw walnuts
- Raw pecans
- Raw pinenuts (our favorite salad topping)
- Raw Brazil nuts (eat 2 per day for your daily dose of selenium!)
- Chia seeds (nutrient-dense addition to smoothies and oatmeal)
- Flaxseeds (high in heart-healthy omega 3s)
- Raw pumpkin seeds (a.k.a. pepitas)
- Raw sunflower seeds
Better-For-You Snack Options
If you’re craving chips or other snacks that you may be trying to cut down on as part of your healthy lifestyle, these substitutes are for you! I’m by no means saying that you shouldn’t enjoy your favorites in moderation, but this list is to provide you with additional options that may be easier to fit into your healthy eating or weight loss plan!
- Lesser Evil’s Himalayan Salt Popcorn (this is SO good)
- Cauliflower pretzel sticks (I know cauliflower is so overdone as a healthy substitute, but these are really tasty!)
- Cauliflower cheese-its (same thing here, these are tasty and you can eat 50 OF THEM for 110 calories)
- Quest protein chips (delicious flavors like ranch and BBQ, 4g net carbs and 20g of protein per bag)
- Low-sugar granola (great topping for yogurt!)
- Dry-roasted edamame
- Seaweed snack packs
- Bare fruit chips
- SmartSweets gummy candy (these have been my lifesaver for satisfying my gummy candy cravings during the week when I’m trying to eat healthier)
- Hu dark chocolate gems (enjoy 2-3 in the evening to get your chocolate fix)
- Protein bars- my favorite brands are Quest and RX Bars
For more inspiration for snacks (and another place to buy many of the other items on this shopping list), check out Thrive Market! I’ve been a big fan and customer of Thrive Market since they were founded in 2015. They keep an incredible selection of organic groceries, delivered to your door for very affordable prices. They have a special offer for my audience to receive a free gift (like one of the options on this list!) with their first order! Click the picture below!
Your First Step: Create Your Healthy Pantry Shopping List
I created this guide to be as comprehensive as possible, but I understand that seeing so many options may feel overwhelming. In practice, creating a healthy pantry begins with your first step: creating YOUR healthy pantry shopping list.
Reading through the options outlined above, where is the first place you feel like your pantry could use a makeover? Maybe you want to add in raw nuts as a snack option or replace the white pasta you typically make with chickpea pasta.
Your first step is to pick just three products from this list to try out this week. Then, keep adding new foods into your pantry week after week, and eventually you’ll be amazed by the healthy, nutrient-dense options available in your pantry.
Change takes time but requires you to take the leap of this first step.
Dr. Schulte’s Summary
I hope this article has provided you with LOTS of inspiration for how you can work towards creating a healthy pantry. Remember, the more healthy options you have on hand, the more likely you are to follow through with your healthy eating or weight loss plan! While there are many options detailed on this list, I encourage you to pick just three new products to try out this week.
What products did you pick to try first? Let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: all opinions are my own and are not affiliated with my employers. Please seek medical guidance before pursuing weight loss or making significant changes to the way you eat or your physical activity routine.