Pantry Essentials

There are some items that pack such an important nutritional punch that they should always be in your pantry! In this article, Jess, an expert dietitian, lists the must-haves along with a little explanation of why each is so great. 

Pantry Essentials

Written by: Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN

There are some items that pack such an important nutritional punch that they should always be in your pantry! In this article, Jess, an expert dietitian, lists the must-haves along with a little explanation of why each is so great. 

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a pantry staple that’s not widely known! It’s yeast specifically made for cooking so that the yeast is not active in the final products. It has a cheesy, nutty, savory flavor and is used a lot in vegan cooking as a dairy substitute. Fortified nutritional yeast is filled with B-vitamins, protein, fiber,  zinc, selenium, manganese, and antioxidants including glutathione. It’s been shown to have many health benefits from lowering cholesterol to  fighting free radical damage to providing plenty of B12. In our homes, we use nutritional yeast on tons of things including pastas, sauces, salads, avocado, and so much more! We love this nutritional yeast and this nutritional yeast.

Beans and Legumes

We’ve got beans and legumes of all kinds in our pantry at all times: dried beans and legumes, canned beans, and jars of beans. Almost at any point in time, we will have chickpeas, black beans, cannellini beans, and lentils on hand because they are so versatile and offer a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. In 2 minutes, you can add beans or lentils to a salad or bowl of roasted veggies or serve them as their own side dish. We use them weekly to make our Creamy Hummus and “refried” black beans. This instant pot is amazing to quickly cook dried beans and lentils, and we really love these organic beans that come in a jar! 


Whole wheat pasta (or lentil or bean-based pasta), quinoa (can be prepped in an instant pot in 1 minute), couscous, whole wheat bread and crackers, tortillas, and rolled oats are always in our pantry! These grains can be the base of many meals or added to a bunch of veggies a stir-fry, a bowl or served as a side dish. Jess has even been making some homemade whole wheat pita that’s so easy and delish! We almost always have our Easiest Oat Bites on hand for a sweet and nutritious snack, and an easy weeknight pasta dish is this Sweet Potato and Veggie Mac and Cheese.  

Marinara Sauce 

Marinara is the key to making a meal faster than you can Postmates.  Sauté up some veggies (fresh or frozen), add some quality marinara and pasta, and your meal is served. You can also add it to some quinoa, veggies, or instant pot meals for a convenient and nutritious addition. Finding a quality marinara is important because this is a food where companies commonly add a bunch of hidden sugar and proinflammatory oils that you want to avoid, so read the label. The simpler the better! We love this marinara sauce from Thrive Market! 

Nuts and Seeds 

We always have chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds on hand! We cook with them, add them to smoothies, and sprinkle them on so many foods like yogurt, cereal, salads, and oatmeal for an extra boost of nutrition. In fact, we have a mason jar of the chia, hemp, and flax seeds mixed together that we sprinkle on food just like we would salt! We also have this Chia Pudding that we add to our Easiest Overnight Oats weekly. They’re filled with fatty acids and fiber essential for cellular health. 

We also have nuts and nut butters to add some tasty good fat and protein to meals and snacks. Almond butter is a staple that we put in our overnight oats, on bread, in our Easiest Oat Bites, and so much more! 

Looking to boost fertility? Add 1 brazil nut to your smoothie each day to meet your daily requirement of selenium, an antioxidant that’s been shown to decrease oxidative stress and damage to the egg. (Low selenium has been linked to increased risk of miscarriage.) We also love having nuts on hand to make nut milks in the blender or in this amazing Almond Cow Milk Maker.

Dried fruit 

These are the most underrated snack! Dates (our Stuffed Dates are incredible!), raisins, dried mango, dried figs, and baked apple chips are family-friendly, easy, and nutritious. We use them as “taste testers” for our kids when cooking. We also love these Skout Bars, which are the go-to grab-n-go nutritious snack in our homes.

We also use this date syrup as a natural sweetener in so many recipes!

Vegetable Broth

Broth is the easiest way to flavor food. A single box of vegetable broth does can give any meal a good umami flavor! We use it when cooking soups, grains, stir-fry’s, instant pot recipes, and more!  

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