Healthy Eating

Pantry And Shopping List Makeover For Beginners

Out of sight, out of mind—create a pantry that actually sets you up for healthy eating success.

By: Rebecca Jacobs

How’s your pantry looking these days? All healthy eating starts in the kitchen, so take a peek into yours—is it brimming with healthy choices or packed with tempting treats, processed junk, and other dietary landmines? Making over our diet starts with making over our kitchen and creating a healthy pantry because after all, that’s where all our healthy eating starts!

If your pantry is looking a little more like a convenience store snack aisle than a Whole Foods, don’t stress! Consider this your cheat sheet-meets shopping list for a healthy pantry makeover, and stock up on these healthy staples that will make whipping up healthy, delicious meals quick and affordable—no takeout needed.  

Your Healthy Pantry Cheat Sheet

Fruits and Veggies Galore

Fresh produce should play a starring role in your diet and make up a large portion of your grocery cart, so start by stocking up on favorites you know you and your family will enjoy. 

Hate broccoli and know your kids won’t eat kale? Pass on them! Grab what you love, but mix it up too, like by trying new seasonal produce.

Keep bags of frozen veggies on hand—they’re nutritious, cheap, and nothing’s quicker than popping a bag in the microwave to get dinner on the table. Fruits are nature’s fast food, so stock up and then wash and slice, so they’re easy to snag.

Here are some nutritious options to stock up on when you head out on your next grocery haul. 

  • Dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens) 
  • Salad greens 
  • Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers 
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery 
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Bananas 

Healthy, Lean Protein

Proteins keep us satisfied and full, holding us over until our next meal, so make sure your kitchen is well stocked with healthy options that are easy to toss on a salad, have as a main dish, or add to pasta or soups.

Another hack is to always have plenty of herbs and spices on hand to whip up whatever you are craving with your lean protein of choice. Seasoning options are endless, so whether you’re craving Mexican or Asian dishes, pre-cook as much as you can so that come mealtime, you can toss together a quick healthy dinner with plenty of healthy protein.

Here are some great lean protein options to jot down on this week’s grocery list. 

  • Lean chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs (preferably organic and pasture-raised) 
  • Tempeh 
  • Tofu
  • Canned beans
  • Lentils

Complex Carbohydrates

When chosen wisely, carbohydrates are a crucial part of a well-rounded, healthy diet and are the brain’s preferred source of fuel (which is why we feel spaced out when trying to cut them.) 

Unrefined carbs are best—some great options to include in your healthy pantry include:

  • Rolled oats
  • Brown rice 
  • Millet 
  • Quinoa

Heads up—while things like sugary cereals, white bagels, bread, and pop-tarts all contain carbs, these are simple carbs and are best avoided. 

Healthy Fats and Treats

A healthy pantry doesn’t have to be devoid of all treats! No one can live off kale salads alone, and while fats and treats should take up the least space in your pantry, they still deserve a place on your shelves.

Since fats are calorically dense, they add rich flavor to meals while keeping us full and satisfied, with just a small serving. 

Delicious, healthy options to have on hand include: 

  • Avocados
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil 
  • Ghee 
  • Nuts
  • Hemp, chia, and flax seeds.

As for treats? Here are some healthier options: 

  • Unsweetened dark chocolate 
  • Dark chocolate covered almonds (preferably unsweetened or low sugar) 
  • Nut butter to enjoy with sliced apple or banana 
  • Dates
  • Unsweetened dried fruit 

Spices and Flavoring

Spice up your life! Artificial flavors and sodium-packed seasonings don’t have a place in a healthy pantry, but fresh and dried spices are a great way to spice up the flavor of your food. 

You can buy spices in the spice aisle or in bulk at health food stores, or pick up some marinades and dressings, just keep it clean, and steer clear of those with added sugars, sodium, and artificial flavor or color.

Here are some other great options to keep in your healthy pantry: 

  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Black pepper
  • Coconut aminos 
  • Nutritional yeast (which lends an Umami flavor and tons of B vitamins)
  • Hot sauces (just make sure they have minimal ingredients) 

Create a Pantry That Makes it Easy to Eat Healthy  

Your pantry should be a place that inspires health when you peer inside it, rather than tempting you with junk or empty calories. 

So, get to shopping, stock up on these staples, and begin your healthy eating journey from your own pantry!