The key to eating right is to make sure you have a healthy food pantry in your house, and to keep unhealthy foods out. Think about it, if you are passing the bag of chips and box of cookies every time you pass through the kitchen, the temptation will catch you sooner or later. Therefore, make life easy for yourself and your family in advance with a healthy food pantry. Follow the healthy food pantry checklist, created by nutrition specialist and physician Kieran Stober M.D., and set yourself up for nothing but success in improving your nutrition and overall health. Here is a list of healthy pantry foods to make sure you always have stocked. Keep these tools in your toolbox to build that healthy foundation of eating.

Scroll to the bottom of the article to print or download this list.

Healthy Pantry Food Checklist

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

–       Mostly GOOD fats (73% monounsaturated fat/11% polyunsaturated fats)

–       Salad dressing; sauté vegetables, meats; frying eggs; marinades; sauces; bread dipping; VERY useful, flavorful oil. You just can’t use to make a roux or fry because it will smoke at high temperatures

–       Make sure to buy “Extra Virgin”. It tastes better.

Canola Oil

–       Also mostly GOOD fats ( 62% monounsaturated fat/ 32% polyunsaturated fats)

–       Has a higher smoke point than olive oil so can be used for frying or making a roux.

**There really is no reason to buy shortening (e.g. Crisco), or “vegetable oils”. You can substitute Canola Oil for all recipes where you want a flavorless oil. If you must use butter/margarine make sure to buy a trans fat free, non-hydrogenated soft margarine (e.g. Smart Balance Light, Blue Bonnet Soft Spread, or I Can’t Believe its Not Butter) made with canola oil and use it sparingly. The key is low percentage of saturated fats to total fat content. Other acceptable oils include Safflower oil, Sesame oil, Sunflower oil, Soybean oil and various nut oils (but be careful if you have a nut allergy).**

Canned Sweet Peas

–       Great non-perishable go-to veggie when you want a quick side dish. Also can be used to fill casseroles, or added to stews.

–       These little guys are delicious and high in fiber (4g/serving) and protein (3g/serving) and relatively low in Calories (60 Cal/serving)

–       Eat sparingly if you have hypertension or heart disease because they are high in Sodium

Can Black Beans

–       Cheap (69 Cents/can at Whole Foods), easy, non-perishable great source of protein (7g/serv) and fiber (7g/serv). Also low-fat. Low-carb.

–       Add some sautéed mushrooms, peppers, chili powder or you can just season with salt and pepper

–       Use plain to top salads, in burritos, as a main or side dish with rice

Can Garbanzo Beans

–       Also cheap, hi in protein (5g/serv) and fiber (4g/serv). Low-fat/Low-carb.

–       Curried garbanzos (also called chickpeas) are delicious

–       Blend with sautéed garlic and onions to make hummus

Can Pinto Beans, Can Red Beans

–       When making red beans, instead of adding bacon or pork fat; just buy a ham bone from the store and add this to the pot when boiling the beans: This still gives some of that smoky ham flavor, but without all the saturated fat from the pork.

–       Like all other beans, these are cheap, high in fiber, protein and low in fat

Rice (One large bag of brown rice; one large bag of long grain white rice)

–       Brown and white rice are both great staple foods. Brown rice is higher in fiber, protein, and essential oils.

–       Use brown rice just like you would use white rice (dirty rice, with beans etc.)

–       Switch it up using brown rice and white rice on different nights


–       very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin

–       do not take if you are taking an anticoagulant (Heparin) because Vitamin K is an important clotting factor that Heparin trying to lower in your system

–       Freezes well so can be kept for a long time

–       Cook just like you would cook any other type of greens

Wheat/Nut/Whole Grain Bread

–       Tastes great and provides lots of fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates and essential oils

–       White bread has essentially no nutritional benefit—it is just plain carbs. These will raise blood sugar without giving any other nutrients.

Dried Lentils

–       Very cheap and quicker to prepare than other beans

–       Can make a soup, serve over rice or add to a vegetable stew

–       High in fiber, protein, folate and B-vitamins. Very low in fat

Dried Split Peas

–       Much of the same nutritional benefit as lentils but with are also high in Potassium

–       Easy/Quick to prepare. For split pea soup refrain from adding butter or pork fat. Instead use olive oil and a ham bone.

Wheat Pasta (Spaghetti, Angel Hair/Cannellini, Penne)

–       Low in fat, higher in protein and fiber than regular pasta. High in complex carbohydrates.

–       Takes a little bit longer to cook

–       You can vary how many calories you ingest by your portion size

–       Avoid sauces rich in cheese or cream. Instead rely more on tomato based sauces or pesto.


–       High in Vitamin A, Vitamin C; as well as fiber. Low in fat.

–       Sautee in a curry sauce with vegetables, bake and serve with salt and pepper, steam or boil and serve with vegetables, also good in a meat stew

Red Wine

–       High in antioxidants; 1-2 glasses may protect against heart attack and lower blood cholesterol

–       Alcohol if taken in excess has many deleterious health effects

–       Can be drank with dinner, after dinner, or used as a base for marinades or sauces

Large Can Mixed Nuts for Snacking

–       Great source of essential oils and high in protein

–       Get nuts instead of chips or other snack items.

–       Satiate hunger (make you feel full) fast


–       Great for snacking and can be added to stir fried vegetables or meat to add some flavor


–       Similarly can be used as a snack or added to stiry fry

Peanut Butter

–       Low in saturated fat, high in protein

–       Another great quick snack item. Spread on some wheat toast.

–       Make sure you buy a brand whose ingredients are only peanuts and salt. No hydrogenated oils or sugar.

Almond Slivers

–       Very high in protein. Mostly Unsaturated fats. Good source of fiber

–       Instead of croutons on your salads, sprinkle with almond slivers. You can use with breadcrumbs to cover a fish filet and bake. Add toasted almonds to greens for an added flavor or crunch

Tomato Sauce (puree)

–       Great source of various vitamins, high in fiber

–       Add to beans or make sauce for topping pasta, or meats

Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes

–       Allows for more flexibility than sauce in that you can roast them or create a different type of sauce

Canned Olives

–       Good source of essential oils and fiber

–       Very high in Sodium

–       Good snack item or to sprinkle on top of salads

Popcorn (unsalted/no butter)

–       Good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates

–       Great snack item

–       Try either Orville Redinbacher 94% Fat Free or Act II Fat Free Butter, which have low fat and less saturated fat. The only way popcorn is unhealthy is if you overdo the butter and the salt


–       another great source of fiber, essential oils, and complex carbohydrates

–       Eat everyday for breakfast if you like, with cinnamon, honey and dried fruit

Ground Flax Seed

–       Great source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids; High in fiber and protein

–       Add a couple spoonfuls to oatmeal to boost the fiber/protein content

–       You can also add to cookies, bread or any baking recipe to boost nutritional content of anything you bake

–       Also very cheap

Canned Chicken  

–       Great lean source of protein that does not spoil

–       Make chicken salad, add to soups, or use in pasta

Dried Fruit – Apples, peaches, raisins, dried Cranberries, dates, etc.

–       One of the most difficult aspects of eating enough fruits is keeping fresh fruit in your home before it goes bad.

–       Dried fruit wont perish

–       Great snack item or as an additive to oatmeal or cream of wheat to add a little sweetness/flavor

Canned Vegetables

–       Peas, corn, green beans, etc.

–       If it is difficult to eat enough fresh vegetables and you don’t have freezer space for frozen veggies, canned vegetables are a good alternative and much better than no vegetables.

–       Usually higher in Sodium and lower in most nutrients

□ Extra Virgin Olive Oil

□ Canola Oil

□ Canned Sweet Peas

□ Can Black Beans

□ Can Garbanzo Beans

□ Can Pinto Beans, Can Red Beans

□ Rice (One large bag of brown rice; one large bag of long grain white rice)

□ Wheat/Nut/Whole Grain Bread

□ Dried Lentils

□ Dried Split Peas

□ Wheat Pasta (Spaghetti, Angel Hair/Cannellini, Penne)

□ Yams

□ Red Wine (from Sonoma County, CA is always a good option)

□ Large Can Salted Mixed Nuts for Snacking

□ Cashews

□ Peanuts

□ Peanut Butter

□ Almond Slivers

□ Tomato Sauce (puree)

□ Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes

□ Canned Olives

□ Popcorn (unsalted/no butter)

□ Oatmeal

□ Ground Flax Seed

□ Canned Chicken/Tuna

□ Dried Fruit – Apples, peaches, raisins, dried Cranberries, dates, etc 

□ Canned Vegetables

Pantry Checklist for Download