The gift that keeps on giving

Looking for the quintessential gift this holiday season? Well, you’re in luck as I have the perfect idea!

How about a well-stocked pantry? Hands down, a pantry full of all the good stuff is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet and prepare delicious meals for you and your family all year long. While it may take a little legwork, my guess is many of you already have the bones to begin with and all you need is a little organization to build a fantastic pantry!

For those of you starting from scratch, take your time investing in quality ingredients such as spices (which add layers of fantastic flavor without the added fat) and pick up a few things here and there like nuts or condiments as they go on sale throughout the year.

Here is a list of what I like to keep in my pantry:

Pasta, Rice, Grains & Legumes
pasta (whole-wheat, stock many varieties like penne, rotini, spaghetti, etc.)
brown rice
quinoa
wheat berries
bulgur
whole wheat couscous
steel cut oatmeal
dried lentils

Canned Goods
whole & crushed tomatoes (I stock San Marzano – aim for no or low sodium)
tomato paste
chicken & veggie stock (choose no or very low sodium)
light coconut milk
cannellini beans, chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans (no salt added)
tuna (oil & water packed)
salmon
sardines

The Spice Rack
allspice, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, chili powder, chinese five-spice, cinnamon (ground & sticks), coriander, crushed red pepper, cumin, curry powder, dry mustard, garam masala, garlic powder, ground ginger, herbs de provence, kosher salt, nutmeg, onion powder, oregano, smoked paprika, peppercorns, pumpkin pie spice, thyme, turmeric

Oils, Vinegars & Condiments
extra virgin olive oil
canola oil
vinegar (balsamic, red & white wine, apple cider & rice wine)
low-fat mayo
dijon mustard
ketchup
worsteshire sauce
cornichons
capers
kalamata olives
Asian ingredients: reduced sodium soy sauce, wasabi paste, pickled ginger, fish sauce, oyster sauce, chili-garlic paste, curry paste

Baking
granulated sugar
brown sugar
agave
powdered sugar
vanilla extract
honey
pure maple syrup
unsweetened cocoa powder
chocolate chips (semi-sweet & white)
rolled oats
AP flour
whole-wheat flour
pastry flour
baking soda
baking powder
cornstarch
cornmeal
plain dried breadcrumbs

Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruits
walnuts
pecans
almonds
pine nuts
sesame seeds
peanut butter
almond butter
dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, prunes, golden raisins, figs)

Refrigerator
low-fat milk
low-fat plain greek yogurt
unsalted butter
Parmesan cheese
feta cheese
eggs
orange juice
dry white wine
Trader Joe’s steamed lentils
nutritional yeast

Freezer
frozen veggies: edamame, spinach, artichoke, broccoli
frozen berries
low-fat frozen yogurt
protein: chicken breast, whole chicken, ground turkey breast
Trader Joe’s pre-cooked brown rice

Staples (other)
celery, carrots, parsley, onions, shallots, lemons, limes, garlic

What are some of your pantry mainstays?