At this point, you may have begun to clean out your fridge, freezer and possibly even tackled your pantry. Good for you! Now one of the biggest stumbling blocks is trying to figure out what exactly you need to buy to restock your kitchen, real food style. Keeping a well stocked kitchen is essential for following and sticking to a healthy lifestyle. Without it, it is so easy to be led astray as you run through the drive thru or reach for that box of processed “quick food” because you failed to have anything else on hand to make a quick meal.
I remember those early days in our quest for all things “real.” I’d go to the grocery store excited to try to find things that would fit within the rules, only to wander the store for hours and come home with what seemed like nothing that would sustain us for a few days let alone the whole week. How was I supposed to make a meal out of a can of beans and a bag of oats? Through trial and error, and a whole lot of research, I have finally figured out what a well stocked pantry looks like for us. Welcome to my pantry. Come on in and take a look around, but please excuse the mess.
Nuts and Seeds
- What to buy: Buy a wide variety of raw, unsalted nuts (preferably organic). Avoid nuts roasted in oils if possible.
- How to use it: Nuts and seeds technically should be soaked first (then dehydrated) to neutralize enzyme inhibitors which make them harder to digest. The only time I soak nuts is when I am making nut milk. Shame on me.
- How to store it: I store most of the nuts in my pantry in glass jars. Some items such as chia seeds and flax seeds I store in my refrigerator after they have been opened.
- What’s in my pantry: Walnuts, hemp seeds, whole flax seeds (I grind my own), whole almonds, slivered almonds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds.
Grains and Flours
- What to buy: If you can tolerate grains, buy a wide variety of grains and flours. When purchasing whole grain pastas buy whole wheat, quinoa pasta, brown rice pastas and soba noodles. Always look for the word “whole” in the ingredient list.
- How to use it: Grains, like nuts, should be soaked.
- How to store it: Some I store in my pantry such as pastas, oats and rice, while whole grains and flours should be stored in your fridge or freezer for optimal freshness once opened.
- What’s in my pantry: Brown rice, arborio rice (not a whole grain), quinoa, bulgar, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, oat flour, corn flour, brown rice flour, rolled oats, wheat germ, almond flour, whole wheat spaghetti, black bean spaghetti, buckwheat soba noodles and brown rice spring roll wrappers. I also have a few boxes of Annie’s organic whole wheat shells and cheese for those “just in case” kid meals.
Beans and Legumes
- What to buy: Beans and legumes are highly nutritious and really cost effective. While canned are often more convenient, they do contain more sodium. If you are buying canned, choose ones that are no salt added and are in BPA free cans. I like Eden Organic brand.
- How to use it: Beans can be thrown into all kinds of dishes. On top of salads, in soups, in chili, replace meat in tacos, in veggie burgers, blended for dips and even made into great tasting desserts. Chickpea blondies anyone? If you are preparing dried beans they need to be soaked prior to cooking them. At least 8 hours should do it, but if you want to soak overnight, that’s fine too. Adding a seaweed like kombu or kelp while cooking help make the beans more digestible. Rinse canned beans thoroughly in a colander before using.
- How to store it: Dried and (unopened) canned beans can be stored at room temperature in your pantry.
- What’s in my pantry: Black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, adzuki beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, green lentils and a bean soup mix.
- What to buy: Sweeteners, both refined and natural should be used at a minimum. When you do need a sweetener, it’s best to choose ones that are in their most natural, raw state.
- How to use it: In tea, coffee and in all your favorite baking recipes. Coconut sugar is substituted in a 1:1 ratio. Up to 1 cup, honey can be subbed equally for sugar. Over one cup, use about 2/3-3/4 cup of honey for every cup of sugar. This will affect your liquids, however, so remember to reduce by 1/4 c for every cup.
- How to store it: All can be stored in your pantry, except for maple syrup which needs to be stored in your refrigerator once it’s opened.
- What’s in my pantry: Organic coconut sugar, 100% maple syrup and raw honey are my favorite sweeteners. I very rarely use stevia or organic Turbinado Sugar (for my occasional coffee drink) but have it on hand as well as blackstrap molasses and brown rice syrup.
- What to buy: Keep all of your baking and cooking essentials on hand at all times. I like to bulk bake muffins, pancakes and other baked goods and freeze them. They make fabulous snacks, lunches and are great for breakfast on the go.
- How to use it: In all your homemade baking recipes. Throw away those boxed mixes. Homemade is where it’s at!
- How to store it: In a cupboard or pantry.
- What’s in my pantry: Baking soda, aluminum free baking powder, organic vanilla, organic unsweetened cocoa powder, cocao powder (notice the difference in spelling. They are two separate items), arrowroot powder, organic cornstarch, organic cold pressed olive oil, organic canola oil (only for occasional baked goods), organic extra virgin coconut oil, Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar (I’ll replace with brown rice vinegar once it’s gone), balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar.
- What to buy: Buy a wide variety to “spice up” any meal. (I know. I’m cheesy.)
- How to use it: In all your baking or cooking. Don’t be shy to try lots of different spices to find a flavor that you like.
- How to store it: In a cupboard or pantry away from the heat of your oven or stove top.
- What’s in my pantry: Himalayan sea salt, kosher salt, sea salt, ground pepper, peppercorns, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, ground ginger, whole cloves and ground cloves, cardamom, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, curry powder, cumin, dill, basil, oregano, Italian spices, wasabi powder, cayenne, garam masala, bay leaves and thyme.
Miscellaneous items in my pantry
- Raisins, goji berries, dried mango, canned coconut milk, cereals (Ezekiel sprouted whole grain cereal, Trader Joe’s bite sized shredded wheat, Uncle Sam original cereal, Cascadian Farms multi grain squares and Joe’s O’s), homemade granola, homemade muesli, jars of cashew and peanut butter (made with one ingredient and used if I get in a pinch and don’t make my own), rice sticks, can of wild caught tuna (hubs likes this every now and then), silken tofu, diced tomatoes, no salt tomato sauce (in case I’m in a pinch and can’t make my own), low sodium veggie broth, organic ketchup, unsweetened organic applesauce (made with just apples), nutritional yeast, organic popcorn kernels, raw cocao nibs and, of course, vegan chocolate chips.
Until next time, keep it real.
Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through our link you will not incur any additional costs but Keepin’ it Real earns a small commission. We only recommend products we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so we may continue to spread the news about real food.