Building a healthier pantry isn’t as hard or as expensive as you might think. By incrementally including more whole foods into your shopping list and learning how to use and pair ingredients to make delicious meals and snacks you like, you’ll avoid the shock of wasted food and money. Better, you’ll accustom yourself to eating healthier week by week and minimize cravings for junk as you start sidelining and replacing less healthy food purchases.
For the past two weeks we’ve been building a whole foods-based pantry 5-7 foods at a time while providing meal and use suggestions for the foods so that you can incorporate them more easily into your cooking routine. With the addition of this week’s items, your whole foods pantry will burst with options for healthy and delicious meals when paired with foods from the previous two weeks. You’ll now start reaching the mix and match point where there are so many delicious, hearty and filling options that you won’t have time for them all, let alone the less nutritious meals of before.
Week 3 Shopping List
In this third week we’ll continue introducing versatile foods fundamental to building a stocked whole foods pantry (i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, tubers, nuts and seeds). This week’s list will provide ingredients for breakfasts, snacks, light lunches, and dinners so you may be able to cut back on or cross out less healthy foods you would have bought for those meals. This week’s items will be relatively inexpensive too. Here’s the list of 5-7 items to throw in your cart when you next head to the grocery store.
Disclaimer: While not all suggestions for the pantry shopping list will be whole foods, they will account for roughly 90% of the overall recommendations and help support the whole foods way of eating.
Week 3 List:
- Greens – baby or regular kale, spinach or other greens
- Potatoes – regular or sweet
- White beans – (any navy, cannellini, Northern, etc)
- Olive oil
How to Maximize Your Purchases
With these 6-7 items, you can mix and match to cover quick breakfasts, snacks, lunch and even dinners for most of the week – especially when combined with previous shopping items kept in stock. This week’s items also provide a diverse and versatile base for almost limitless meal options. Here’s how to use what you bought.
- Scrambled eggs or omelets with spinach or other greens
- Spinach quiche
- Spinach or kale smoothie
- British style “baked” beans
Lunch and Dinner Ideas
- Creamy spinach risotto
- White bean salad
- White bean soup
- Italian style beans with sausage
- Cabbage and pecan stir fry
- Potato and carrot stew
- Vegetable soup
- Cole slaw
- Baked, mashed, or roasted potatoes
- Bean dip
Eggs. One of the most versatile foods in any kitchen, they are wonderful scrambled, boiled, poached, made into omelets or quiches, or added into other dishes.
Greens. Use them for salads or in place of lettuce in tacos, as a side dish when steamed, sauteed or boiled, or as an ingredient in omelets, smoothies, stir fries, curries, soups and stews.
Cabbage. This is another versatile food. Add it to soups and stews, stir fries and curries. It’s the main ingredient for probiotic foods like kimchi and saurkraut but also makes a wonderful wrap for stuffing and steaming.
Carrots. Great for snacking and eating with dips, in soups, stews, stir fries and curries, and as a side dish.
Potatoes. Another versatile food, potatoes are great broiled, boiled, roasted, mashed, baked, or added into soups, stews, curries and even stir fries. Personally I like to also steam and saute them on the stove top with a little olive oil to make a healthy version of fries.
White beans. Use these for bean salads or add them into other dishes to make tasty and filling soups, stews, and breakfast beans. They can even substitute for chick peas when making hummus for a lighter taste.
Olive oil. This is a great oil for imparting wonderful flavor to many meals. Use it in place of your usual vegetable oil for added health benefits and flavor. It’s part of a successful vinaigrette or in making your own pestos and sauces.
When building a whole foods pantry, staying in stock takes some getting used to. Focus on easy wins while learning to juggle fresh produce and other more perishable items. In the beginning, basics that can sit on a shelf for a bit are your friends:
- Always keep nuts and seeds on hand to snack on or add to other daily dishes.
- Similarly, always have a couple of varieties of beans in your pantry to eat daily or semi-daily. Beans, nuts and seeds are nutritional powerhouses loaded with the fiber and essential vitamins and minerals your body needs each day to maintain and repair itself in good condition. They also feed your beneficial bacteria.
- Whole grains are easy to store as well. Keep oats and other whole grains around so you can rely on them more for your nutrition rather than the refined flours of bread and pasta which have mostly been stripped of any of their healthy aspects.
The trick to eating healthy is learning how to enjoy real food over your less healthy food habits. Start simply by experimenting with the foods or dishes suggested this week. Then put the items on this week’s shopping list into your regular shopping rotation, taking out less wholesome purchases or cutting down on them. Maybe you’ve been eating pasta for many of your lunches and dinners. Start rotating in bean or rice dishes or adding a soup or curry. Freshen up your lunches too by dropping the heat and serve meals or fast food for homemade bean salads and burrito bowls. Cut down on the sugary snacks by replacing them with chips and salsa or chips and guacamole. Your body will thank you with better health and vitality.
Your Whole Foods Pantry So Far:
- Greens – spinach, kale, etc.
- Sunflower seeds
- Chick peas
- Black beans
- White beans – navy, northern beans, etc.
- Peanut butter or other nut butter
- Olive oil
- Plain yogurt
Next week, the shopping list will continue to build up your basic pantry and recipe repertoire with tricks and time-savers for busy lives. Soon you’ll feel like a whole foods pro.
Like this article? Share it so that others can learn these health secrets and start living their best lives now.