How to shop smart, stock your pantry

Food staples on counter.

Written by Shorus Minella, a dietitian at the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute.

Though it is always important to eat balanced meals with representation from most of the food groups, it is especially important for those who are spending more time at home and/or are feeling stressed or sick during the coronavirus outbreak. Community guidance concerning COVID-19 is changing daily, but one consistent recommendation is to practice social distancing by avoiding large crowds and staying home more.

Because of this, many people are trying to decide how best to stock their pantries with useful items that will last and contribute to healthy meals for themselves and their families. Shopping during this uncertain time can be difficult, but hoarding food is not the best answer for you or your larger community. Instead, it’s best to shop smart with a set plan.

Here are some food items and uses to consider as you plan to stock your pantry:

Baking products: Flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda are necessary for most baked foods and desserts.

Canned beans and fish: You can include these in salads, soups, stews and casseroles.

Canned fruits and vegetables: Great for side items but can also be mixed in other dishes. Canned tomatoes are a versatile ingredient widely used in a lot of different recipes.

Cereals and oats: Always good for breakfast but can also be used in baked goods as well as trail mixes. Some, like cornflakes, can be used for breading meat.

Pasta and rice: With a shelf life of two to four years, pasta and rice are quick to cook and can be used in a number of recipes. 

Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits: These items also have a long expiration date and they are full of protein and healthy fats. These are great ingredients for making a trail mix or granola.

Oil, vinegar, herbs and spices: Don’t forget these items. Not only do they help you to continually cook your food in healthy ways, but they also help add flavor to your food.

Take a look at the dietitian-approved pantry list below and use it to formulate your own shopping list:

Baking Staples

  • Baking powder.
  • Baking soda.
  • Cocoa powder.
  • Flour: all purpose, whole wheat.
  • Rolled oats.
  • Sugar.
  • Vanilla extract.

Cooking Staples

  • Barley.
  • Brown rice.
  • Canned beans: black, kidney, pinto, chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
  • Canned corn (no salt added).
  • Canned pineapple.
  • Canned tomatoes (no salt added).
  • Canola oil.
  • Chicken broth (low sodium).
  • Cornstarch.
  • Nuts: almonds, peanuts, etc.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Raisins or other dried fruit.
  • Tuna or salmon (canned in water).
  • Vinegar: white, cider.
  • Whole grain cereal.
  • Whole grain pasta: spaghetti, macaroni.
This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

Topics in this Story

    Wellness-Nutrition and Recipes