Building out a healthy kitchen pantry and refrigerator can seem like a daunting task. However, with a little guidance, it is incredibly easy to make sure you are feeding yourself and your family the quality, delicious, and healthy food they need. If you know what to look for, you will find awesome and healthy shelf-stable items and fresh items to build out your stock of healthy kitchen essentials for cooking delicious and healthy meals at home.
Some quick tips
- In general, raw foods are healthier than processed. Preservatives are a large contributor to digestive issues, and they tend to suck some of the nutritional value out of the food.
- A healthy kitchen is a balanced kitchen. Protein, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fats are all a part of a healthy, balanced diet.
- Not all of these items will work for all diets. If you are meat or dairy free, make the correlating adjustments to this list.
In your pantry
When talking about long shelf life, canned goods are second to none. Things like beans, sauces, and even vegetables are great to have on hand to add protein and vitamins to any meal. When shopping for canned goods, grabbing the low-sodium version can be an easy way to keep it healthy.
An awesome source of protein, nut butters like almond, sunflower seed, cashew butter, and even peanut butter make a great addition to your pantry.
Pastas and Other Carbohydrates and Starches
Quinoa, rice, pasta, couscous — whatever carbohydrate or starch fillers you like in your meals will keep for a long time and are important to fuel your body well. Our favorite way to up the "healthiness" factor of pasta is to opt for a veggie enhanced pasta instead of regular.
We're talking oils! Olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, ghee, even canola oil — whatever your oil (or oils) of choice, make sure you have some on hand for cooking.
Food is meant to be enjoyed, and a huge part of that is flavor. Whatever you like to use to season your food, keep it on hand! Some of our favorites include; cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, and cumin. Bonus points if you have the time and space for a fresh herb garden, but dried spices work just as well!
Apple cider vinegar
This one gets us really excited because you can use ACV in so many different ways! Along with multiple health benefits, its uses range from being a powerful flavor booster in meals to a natural kitchen cleaner. Head to A Sweet Pea Chef blog to learn more about the healthy benefits of apple cider vinegar and all the ways to use it.
Although sea vegetables might not yet be a part of your weekly veggie haul yet, they are worth adding as they have an amazingly diverse mineral profile which includes many minerals that are essential to our well being. This was a new ingredient for us to explore, check out five sea plants that could be the newest addition to your diet.
Potatoes, garlic, ginger, onions, squash... the produce that can be stored at room temperature generally have a long shelf-life, and pack a huge punch in the vitamins department. Pro Tip: Many vegetables are able to be stored at room temperature — check out this list of shelf-stable veggies.
In your fridge
This category will look different for every household. What veggies do you and your family like? Which ones pair well with favorite meals? Which ones do you like to snack on? Keep them on-hand.
When supplements are meant to be refrigerated, you know that they pack a nutritional punch that other shelf-stable supplements just can't. Look for all natural, plant-based supplements like these super greens to supplement your diet.
Often overlooked, stocks are incredible for your gut and immune health. Use them for soups, rice, or even as an oil or butter substitute to get more of that goodness into your diet.
Fermented foods such as kimchi and kombucha are the emerging stars when it comes to the health of your digestive community and immune system. These foods have been shown to add beneficial bacteria and enzymes to our intestinal microbiome aiding in digestion. Curious about trying kimchi? Check out this super easy recipe and show your gut some love.
If you have meat in your diet, keep your fridge (or freezer) stocked with at least one kind of red meat, one kind of poultry, and one kind of fish. Chicken is highly versatile and a lean, healthy meat. If you opt for bone-in cuts, you can even make your own stock!
Remember: the key to building a "healthy kitchen essentials" list is balance. Carbs, fats, fruits, and vegetables are all essential parts of a healthy diet, but they will come in ways that look different for every family and every diet.