Looking to put your pantry ingredients to good use? Check out these healthy tips and recipes to use up those jars, cans, and containers filled with
(This post is written by Grateful Grazer contributor, Mackenzie Burgess, RDN.)
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and healthy fats like monounsaturated fat, as well as omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. I like to buy my nuts and seeds in bulk to save money. Since these items have a high amount of oil, they can go bad faster if not stored properly. If stored at room temperature, nuts and seeds can go rancid within a few months. Throw them in the fridge in mason jars to last for about 6 months–or better yet–store them in the freezer for up to one year. Some of my favorites to keep on hand are cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds.
How to use nuts and seeds:
- Try incorporating your favorites into this completely customizable quinoa crunch granola recipe. Combine oats, nuts of your choice, seeds of your choice, and other add-ins of your choice for a crunchy, satisfying snack or breakfast topper.
- Even though it may seem silly at first to buy a big thing of chia seeds, they go fast with recipes like chia seed jam or seed-filled pantry crackers.
- Elevate baked chicken or salmon by adding a glaze + chopped nuts and seeds on top.
Canned Fruits & Vegetables
There’s no need to fear the canned goods aisle. Produce is usually canned within hours after picking and can be just as nutritious as fresh and frozen foods. Opt for canned items that are labeled "no sugar added," "no salt added," or "low sodium" if you want them to be nutritionally as close as possible to fresh produce. You can also drain and rinse canned products to remove some of the excess salt if you want. Stock your pantry with various canned items to have on hand and avoid a grocery store run.
How to use canned fruits and vegetables:
- Use canned tomatoes to make quick, homemade soups like tomato basil soup or easy Harissa Bean Chili.
- Use applesauce to make clever recipes like frozen bites or parfaits.
- Garnish your salads with slices of canned beets, pears, or peaches.
Quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. You can enjoyed quinoa cooked or raw for added crunch. If you are enjoying quinoa raw, buy it “pre-washed” so the saponin, or bitter coating, is removed.
How to use quinoa:
- Add a little protein and crunch to your chocolate craving with this raw cocoa bark recipe. Simply combine melted coconut oil, cocoa powder, quinoa, and maple syrup and freeze with toppings of your choice.
- Quinoa is also a great addition to salads and soups alike. Try throwing it over a Mediterranean inspired-salad filled with fresh fruit and flavorful spices or one-pot white bean kale quinoa soup.
Oats are another ingredient that is great to buy in bulk and store in your pantry as it will last for years. Whole grains, such as oats, whole wheat bread, and brown rice, contain the “whole” grain including the bran, germ, and endosperm (AKA all the good parts filled with vitamins and minerals) whereas refined grains only have the endosperm which is the primarily starchy part. Aim to incorporate more healthy carbohydrate sources like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet for optimal nutrition and sustained energy.
How to use oats:
- Add rolled oats to everything from grab-and-go PB&J overnight oats to energy bites filled with your favorite nut butter and add-ins.
- Oats aren't confined to just sweet. Go savory with veggie-filled oat bowls like steel cut oats with spinach, mushrooms and tofu.
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are another canned ingredient I stock my shelves with. Canned beans are a quick way to add filling protein and fiber into your snacks and meals. Don’t be too quick to throw away the liquid in your chickpeas can. This reserved liquid is called aquafaba and can be whipped into delicious vegan recipes such as mousse or dips.
How to use chickpeas:
- Whenever I’m in need of a quick, healthy dip for my veggies, this blender hummus recipe is my go-to. Hummus usually calls for an ingredient called tahini, but it is typically more expensive and an item I don’t readily have on hand. Instead, I like to use my pantry peanut butter to give it that necessary nuttiest and creamy texture. It’s also great because it is so versatile. You can throw in whatever spices or additional flavor you love.
- Roasted chickpeas are another great, everyday snack to throw over salads or pack to-go. Try these cheesy vegan roasted chickpeas tossed with fresh herbs, spices, and nutritional yeast.
Cooking from your pantry is beneficial for a number of reasons.
It allows you to use up what you already have,
Canned pantry items are typically cheaper, yet
Finally, these pantry ingredients keep for months to years at a time, allowing you to have a stocked kitchen—always ready to whip up a healthy recipe.
your essential pantry ingredients you like to keep on hand?
Mackenzie Burgess, RDN is a dietitian, recipe developer and blogger based in Fort Collins, CO. Her blog focuses on simple recipes with customizable ingredients of your choice. This allows recipes to cater to different dietary preferences and ingredients already on hand. Connect with her on her website, Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook page.