10 pantry essentials

If you never run out of these 10 pantry items, you’ll always be able to make yourself a healthy meal in minutes.

1. Tinned fish
Tuna, sardines, salmon … you can’t go wrong with tinned fish for a tasty, heart-healthy meal. Also a great source of protein, they’re perfect in salads, sandwiches, patties, fish pies and even pasta dishes.

2. Potatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are nutritious wholefoods that offer healthy carbohydrates. Store them in a cool dark place in your kitchen to dish up mashed or baked potatoes, or to make a topping for Shepherd’s and fish pies. They’re also used in salmon patties.

3. Tinned beans
Beans are great for fibre, protein and complex carbs. With tinned beans, it best to use them drained and rinsed. They’re ideal for quickly whipping up vegetarian soups, casseroles, salads, curries, pasta dishes and dips (e.g. hummus).

4. Tinned tomatoes
You can use tinned tomatoes for many dishes. Cheap and cheerful, tinned tomatoes can add rich flavour to soups, pasta, casseroles, risottos and baked dishes. Cooked tomatoes are also rich in the antioxidant lycopene.

5. Pasta
Got pasta in the pantry? Then you won’t go hungry. Along with other pantry staples such as tinned tuna, tinned tomatoes and dried herbs, you’ll be able to make yourself a satisfying meal in minutes. See if you can opt for the wholemeal variety for a bowel-healthy fibre boost. Why not try our Zesty Tuna Pasta?

6. Olive oil
If you’re going to stock only one oil, it might as well be cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, which is full of healthy monounsaturated fats. It’s perfect for sald dressings and low-heat cooking. To choose one that’s of good quality, see if you can buy local olive oil in dark glass bottles. It may cost extra, but it is more likely to be fresh and less likely to be rancid (which can happen when the oil is old and exposed to light).

7. Dried herbs and spices
While I find fresh herbs more delicious, stocking some dried herbs in the pantry can help you to add flavour to meals when you’ve run out of the fresh stuff. My favourites are thyme and bay leaves. And being of Indian descent, I have a huge stash of spices to make punchy, aromatic meals.

8. Whole grains
Quinoa is one of the fastest cooking and most nourishing whole grains (technically it’s a seed), so it can be handy to have a stash in the pantry. While white rice is not really a whole grain, it does cook quickly, and with regards to flavour and lower GI, basmati is probably your best option compared to other varieties of white rice.

9. Nuts
Nuts are perfect for a healthy snack in between meals. Why not enjoy them with natural yoghurt to abate the mid-meal hunger pangs? For more protein and healthy fats, you can also add nuts to meals – especially vegetarian ones.  

10. Stock
Whether you make your own and freeze it in portions or buy it from the shops, stock is a delicious way to add flavour to casseroles, soups, risottos and curries.

How many of these items are stocked in your pantry? What other handy goodies to you store in your pantry?

Related articles:
Tips for a frugal pantry
10 foods you don’t need to refrigerate
How to save money and eat well

YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writershttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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