Pantry Staples: Make Healthy Snacks And Meals For Your Family

A well stocked kitchen is both an easier and more enjoyable place to prepare meals for your entire family.  When you are missing a few of the essentials you can be greatly limited in your ability to create a menu.  There is not much worse than hearing, “What’s for dinner?” when there is not a plan in mind.  Keeping a stocked pantry of healthy essentials will prepare and allow you to be more creative and free to plan a healthy meal.


Have on hand a couple different grains, such as brown rice, barley, couscous, and quinoa.  At the beginning of the week make a large pot of grains to use as the base of meals throughout the week.  These will keep in the refrigerator 3-4 days.

Dry Beans

While canned beans are more convenient, dried beans are cheaper and healthier.  Canned beans are higher in unnecessary sodium.  You can easily make beans without having to attend to them by putting them in the slow cooker on low overnight.

Vegetable stock cubes

A box or can of vegetable stock in most cases costs more than buying an entire box of vegetable stock cubes.  This is a convenient and inexpensive way to create the base of a soup. Look for low sodium cubes for an even better option.


Oatmeal is not only a wonderful breakfast, but can also be used as a snack, to make granola or granola bars, or to make cookies.


It is a good idea to have on hand more than one kind of pasta, such as lasagna, spaghetti, farfalle, and rotini.  These can be used as a spaghetti dinner, but also for pasta salads, casseroles, and can be added to soups.

Jarred pasta sauce

You most likely do not have time to make your own pasta sauce.  Instead of waiting until you are planning to make pasta that week, keep a jar or two of pasta sauce on hand for a meal emergency.

Canned tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are an excellent addition to soups, casseroles, and pasta.  Keep a variety, such as crushed, whole, and fire roasted.


Nuts are useful for adding to oatmeal, salads and granola.  They can also be eaten as a snack with fruit or used to make trail mix.  They are an essential in baking as well.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is an excellent sweet option instead of eating dessert.  You can also use it in cereal or oatmeal when fresh fruit is not available. It is great as an on-the-go snack with some nuts.


Both white and sweet potatoes are a pantry essential, as they can be eaten in many ways – cubed and placed in soup, baked, roasted, or mashed.


Onions are the base to almost every dish in many cultures.  Having yellow and red onions on hand will enable you to begin your meal with a building block of flavor.

Most of these items have a long shelf life; however, nuts should be kept in the freezer, unless they will be used within a couple weeks.  Potatoes and onions should be used and replenished frequently.

Susanna Watters is a writer and cook.  She enjoys writing about recipes, cooking tips, and nutrition.  Susanna recently wrote an article about the nutrition in nuts.

11 Responses to “Pantry Staples: Make Healthy Snacks And Meals For Your Family”

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  1. Pantry Staples: Make Healthy Snacks And Meals For Your Family via @JoanneGreco777

  2. Carla

    Solid tips! I could easily make a meal out of brown rice, made with caramelized onions and stock cubes for flavor, plus canned tomatoes and a little jarred pasta sauce. In fact, the thought of it is making me hungry. ;-)
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  3. David Allen says:

    Always good to get with the healthy eating regime. Better still to be a vegetarian.
    David Allen recently posted..Mac20Q news June 2012My Profile

  4. Jodie says:

    These are some really great ideas. I didn’t realize you could cook up rice a few days beforehand and keep in the fridge. That will save heaps on cooking and preparation time for some of our meals. I also like to keep the wraps (fajita / burrito type wraps) in the pantry for a quick, light and easy dinner the kids all love on the nights you just don’t feel like cooking much.
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  5. Pantry Staples: Make Healthy Snacks And Meals For Your Family via @JoanneGreco777

  6. Leigh says:

    There’s some great ideas here. I never keep nuts in the freezer though, it never crossed my mind.

    As a stay at home father it’s my job to cook all the meals and because I have four fussy eaters who all like different things my menu has become quite limited.

    Sometimes I would rather tear my hair out then cook and eat the same boring meal again.

    I also often myself thinking ‘we’ll have so and so for dinner’ and then I wait until the end of the day to cook it. It’s then that I find that I am missing that one vital ingredient. Drives me crazy. You think I would have learned by now but I did it twice last week.
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  7. Darrell says:

    Definitely some good tips for healthy snacks. We need to teach not just our kids, but adults too about the benefits of eating healthier alternatives…lots of good choices on this page..


  8. Sally K Witt says:

    Very good info. Economical and healthy – difficult to balance!
    Sally K Witt recently posted..What does “Quiet” make you think of?My Profile

  9. Beth Parker says:

    My cupboards are seriously bare right now. I’m out of a lot of these things. I really need to make a major stock-up trip soon.
    Beth Parker recently posted..More Companies Are Using Smart Card TechnologyMy Profile

  10. Love the ideas even if my kids squirmed at the idea of Vegetable stock cubes! LOL still gonna try it!

  11. Beans are a wonderful staple to keep at the ready! I just went shopping yesterday and picked up some garbanzo beans which I love to add to salads or roast for 30 minutes in the oven with different seasonings to taste and have them as a snack. And who doesn’t love dried fruit and nuts =) Great list and tips Joanne! Now I’m really hungry and have to go make some dinner:)
    Mary E Haight recently posted..Animal Stories, Wildfires Unleash CompassionMy Profile

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