Since seeing fresh food go to waste is one of my pet peeves, I tend to grocery shop every other day. I plan my menus out in advance, and shop for ingredients based on what I am going to make for the next few meals. But no matter what I have on tomorrow’s menu, I keep my cupboard stocked with a selection of pantry staples that are perfect for putting together almost any meal in a pinch. These 10 items are flavorful, versatile, and most importantly, won’t spoil. As long as I have these ingredients on hand, I know that I can whip up a tasty and nutritious spread any day of the week. Here’s a look at my pantry staples:

  1. Quinoa is the healthiest and most versatile grain to have in your cupboard. It is the only grain that offers a complete protein, and works just as well in a sweet breakfast dish as it does a savory side.
  2. Canned tomatoes are packed with just as many nutrients as fresh ones, and even better, they require no peeling, seeding or chopping. I use canned tomatoes often as the base for a quick sauce, served over pasta, chicken, or fish.
  3. Canned artichoke hearts are my go-to for a gourmet meal on the fly. Combine this pantry staple with mushrooms, and then simmer in white wine and chicken stock. Serve over chicken or pasta.
  4. Frozen chicken breasts aren’t a “pantry” staple per say, but they’re another food I always have on hand. They’re a perfect lean protein and last in your freezer as long as you need them to.
  5. Angel hair pasta makes a great quick dish any night of the week. I use whole-wheat pasta as it’s a healthier alternative. Toss with shrimp (fresh or frozen), olive, oil and garlic, and there you have it— a delicious and complete meal.
  6. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are essential ingredients for any kitchen. Combined, they make the perfect base to dress almost any salad. And alone, olive oil is my go-to oil for flavorful cooking.
  7. Rolled oats are a definite staple in my home. From overnight oats to baking, I use them on a weekly basis.
  8. Canned beans are a great vegetarian source of protein. I prefer cannellini beans since they can be used in soups, salads, or sautéed with greens for a quick and easy meal. Depending on your personal preference though, chickpeas and black beans are other great options.
  9. Canned green chilies are the perfect way to spice up sauces, dips, chilies, and chicken dishes. If you can stand the heat, they’re the perfect way to punch up a bland recipe.
  10. Canned light tuna has over 21g of protein per can and is rich in healthy amino acids. There’s a reason it was a staple in your lunchbox growing up!

What staple ingredients do you always have in your cupboard?

XO Lauren