A well-stocked pantry is essential to making a good home cooked meal, especially when time is scarce. Dried pasta, pre-cooked beans, and canned tuna can are all great things to have on hand when making a last-minute meal. But, not all pantry items are created equal; some can actually help you eat healthy, even when you’re making a meal in a pinch.
Flavor-enhancers are one of the most common pantry staples for healthy eaters. Cans or boxes of stock or broth can replace water when cooking whole grains or oil when sautéing vegetables; this contributes flavor without adding a significant number of calories to the dish. Dried spices are another great way to boost flavor. Choosing spices with complex flavor profiles can limit the number of things you’ll need to have on hand; smoky cumin is a great choice for this reason.
Wholesome and filling foods are another pantry must-have for healthy eaters. Whole grains have a long shelf life and can help you stay fuller longer. Farro, an heirloom variety of wheat, is high in fiber and has a slightly chewy texture when cooked; it’s wonderful cooked and served on its own, or tossed into a leafy, green salad. Lentils are another great choice for a quick and filling meal; they work well in soups, purées, or cold salads.
Every healthy pantry is stocked with a few sweets, too; smart choices can help curb cravings. Honey is a great substitute for sugar in baking, since it adds sweetness with a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Dark chocolate, especially bars with a high percentage of cacao, have less sugar than their milk-based counterparts.
If you’re trying to eat healthy, stock up on these staples:
Broth or Stock
Chicken stock or vegetable broth can add flavor to plain foods without significantly altering their calorie count. Try replacing the water with stock when cooking brown rice.
This chewy heirloom grain has a flavor similar to barley. It’s easy to prepare; simply rinse the farro then simmer it with water in a pot on the stove until it reaches the desired consistency.