Many items with long shelf lives can be full of processed chemicals or preservatives. It can be tricky and time-consuming navigating the grocery store aisles while reading all of the ingredient lists to learn which foods won’t spoil quickly or potentially harm your health.
The most nutrient-dense and freshest foods, like fruits and veggies, can go bad quickly. Sometimes you don’t have the time or energy to get around to cooking it all, and at the end of the week, you find yourself cleaning out the drawers of your fridge again thinking “what a waste!”.
Try filling up your pantry with longer-lasting options! There are so many delicious foods that are perfect for cooking with or snacking on and that are also full of nutrients the body loves and needs. That’s why we’ve put together this list of our favorite staple food items that are durable, delicious and nutritious!
#1 Dates and other dried fruits
When you have a hankering for something on the sweeter side, but you’re trying to cut back on your processed sugar intake, dried fruits like dates make for a great alternative. They’ll give you the fix you need to curb your sweet tooth and get an extra boost of natural energy, vitamins and minerals to make it through the day.
Dates come in many different varieties and with several health benefits being high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants and B and vitamins. Medjool dates are larger, darker in color, and caramel-like in taste and soft in texture compared to deglet noor dates which can be tough and nuttier. Plus medjool dates have more potassium than a banana ounce per ounce! These secret sweets add the nutrition and fix you need to keep in a bind. Whether whole dates for snacking or pitted dates for easily adding to recipes these are a staple to keep in the panty. And the best part is medjool can last about nine months in the pantry, up to a year in the refrigerator or two years in the freezer!
Need to stock up on Joolies? Buy medjool dates or date syrup now!
Nuts are another great for snacking, for adding to a salad or tossing in another prepared dish. They also have a long shelf life! Some of our favorites include almonds, pistachios and cashews.
While high in calories, nuts are both loaded with healthy fats, carbs, protein, fiber and vitamins - so they're a complete food item that will keep you fuller longer. They’re an awesome mid-day snack to lift your energy levels. Plus, both can last for months in your pantry!
#3 Canned Fish
Moving along down the list, this next option is for people looking for a protein source! Canned tuna, sardines or salmon are wonderful items to keep stocked in your pantry.
Canned fish are both high in heart-healthy fats like omega 3 fats and high in protein – sometimes upwards 20 grams of protein per serving. These canned goods make for a tasty and nutritious lunch or dinner reicipe , and can last up to three years! If you’re on a budget or want to experiment in the kitchen, canned tuna or salmon are useful items to keep around.
#4 Alternative Better for you Pastas
Another health-friendly and shelf-friendly option is alternative pasta made with better for you ingredients! Some of our favorite brands include Banza’s chickpea pasta or Right Rice, which is made from plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas. Although most pastas and rice have long shelf-lives, these have become our favorites due to their higher nutritional value!
Alternative pastas can be lower in calories, higher in fiber, and made with healthy complex carbs. This makes them wonderful to consume in moderation when working towards your weight loss goals.
#5 Dried or canned garbanzo beans
A great source of protein, nutrients, and fiber, garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) are another one on the list of durable and useful pantry items. Dried garbanzo beans are said to last infinitely, while canned garbanzos can last three to five years unopened.
While we love all types of beans, these exotic beans just add a little more life to our plates. There are several amazing ways to enjoy whole garbanzo beans. You can make hummus or falafel, or add them to your salad for a plant-based protein. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even use them in sweet applications - cocoa hummus anyone?
#6 Jarred Vegetables
Jarred vegetables, like red peppers or artichokes, when stored in a jar, can last from six months to a whole year (if refrigerated). There are so many delicious recipes to enjoy using these flavorful vegetables since they have a nice brine to them. This makes them one of our favorite long-lasting pantry items.
But that’s not the only reason! They are also incredibly nutrient-dense and can be beneficial to your health.
#7 Long grain rice
Healthier than other varieties of rice, long grain rice, such as brown, basmati, or jasmine, is long-lasting and nutritious. You can keep it as a staple item to enjoy with lunch or dinner for three to five years.
Long grain rice has a lower glycemic index than short or medium grain. This makes it a better option for your health. These forms of rice also have different, almost crunchier textures, which are necessary changes of pace if you're consuming the same foods more often than you'd like!
Next on the list is a Mediterranean staple food: lentils. They come in black, brown, green or red and are an excellent source of iron, folate and protein. In addition, they’re a low calorie substitute for rice or pasta if you’re trying to lose weight. Dried lentils can last up to three years when properly stored. Enjoy them in your soup or another yummy recipe inspirations.
#9 Nut butters
Peanut butter, almond butter and other nut butters are a classic treat to make sure you have stocked in your pantry. In the refrigerator, they can last for months after opening.
Nut butters are high in protein, healthy fats and fiber. They also contain many antioxidants and nutrients to boost your health.
Add nut butters to breakfast dishes like oats, slather onto dates for a delicious and satisfying treat or use in various sauces to add a nutty flavor profile.
#10 Spices, herbs and seasonings
Rice, pastas, lentils and garbanzo beans... so many durable and delicious choices to play with in the kitchen! You’re going to need to spice things up a bit… Spices, dried herbs and seasonings are a must-have in your pantry to add some much needed flavor. Face it: they can make or break a dish!
Most spices and seasonings can last from three to five years and have great health benefits as well. A great example is Pink Himalayan salt has trace amounts of nutrients.
It’s a good idea to pick out one or two new seasonings each time you stop at the grocery store. That way you can start a collection of different spices for all of your cooking needs! Our easy favorites are lemon pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and of course garlic!
Bonus: #11 Protein Powder
We've all heard that adding protein to your diet gives you energy, can aid in weight loss, keeps you full and keeps your muscles strong - and helps build muscle with exercise!
For more sedentary lifestyles, the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. The general guidelines for endurance and strength-trained athletes from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine suggest consuming between 1.2 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for the best performance and health. So how to get more in without access to lots of meat or eating copious amounts of beans?
Protein powders are a simple solution to keep in your pantry. These come in plant-based and whey/casein varieties in a plethora of different flavors like chocolate, vanilla, for any type of diet. Not only is protein powder easy to consume, it's super versatile to add into recipes. Things your can add a little more protein-oompfh to include:
- Your morning coffee
- Breakfast oats
- Pancakes or waffles
- Homemade ice-cream or vegan nice-cream
- Baked goods like cookies, cakes or cupcakes
Whether you love to cook or dabble here and there, it makes a huge difference when you open up your pantry to find so many options to choose from and enjoy! Stock up on these long-lasting, healthy options and you’ll be ready to get creative with all of your breakfasts, lunches and dinners!