How to Stock a Healthy Pantry

Keep these heart-healthy ingredients on hand for unplanned but nutritious meals at any time.

Planning ahead can help make meal prep low-stress and healthy eating easy. The key is making sure your cabinets, fridge and freezer are well stocked with heart-healthy ingredients. Keep these items on hand for unplanned but nutritious meals at any time.

Must-have pantry staples

  • Dinner-building items: low-salt canned beans, tuna, salmon, tomatoes and marinara sauce
  • Whole-grain pasta in a variety of shapes, brown rice and other easy-to-make whole grains like bulgur, couscous and quinoa
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats makes for a quick breakfast (or dinner)
  • Whole-wheat flour, spelt flour and cornmeal are great substitutes for white flour
  • Nuts and seeds are great sources for protein and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
  • Balsamic vinegar and low-sodium soy sauce are great to have for salad dressings and sauces
  • Low-sodium bullion cubes can make a quick, flavorful stock for soup—just choose ones without hydrogenated oils
  • Dried herbs and spices like rosemary, oregano, thyme and curry add instant flavor to your meals
  • Healthy cooking oils should be kept in limited amounts because they spoil over time

Fridge and freezer fundamentals

  • Stick to low-fat diary products and low-fat cheese
  • Choose soft margarines with 0 grams trans fat instead of butter—these are made with non-hydrogenated vegetable oils and typically come in tubs
  • Pick the healthiest options for salad dressings, dips and marinades
  • Buy fresh or frozen fish instead of breaded and battered
  • Try skinless versions of poultry and trim off any visible fat before cooking
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables make great additions to any meal
  • Limit how much butter, cream and ice cream you eat—save these for special occasions
Jars of pickles

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