Cart Smarts: Tips to stock a healthy pantry – Post-Bulletin

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I helped build a kitchen display down at the Home Show last weekend.

Let me clarify: I have zero carpentry skills, but I do consider myself to be an expert grocery shopper! I filled the kitchen cabinets with a variety of healthy foods from the store shelves. As I worked, I got to thinking about how important it is to keep your pantry well-stocked.

Sure, some of the freshest and healthiest foods can be found around the perimeter of the grocery store, but those center aisles carry some essential products, too.

When your pantry is well stocked, you can create meals in minutes and you can skate through those days when you don’t have time to get to the grocery store.

Aisle by aisle, here are some of the healthiest pantry staples:

Canned fruits/vegetables. Look for no-salt-added canned beans and vegetables, and fruits packed in juice. Examples include canned tomatoes, black beans, corn, pears, peaches and pineapple.

Whole grains. Stock up on whole-grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, barley and couscous.

Canned meat. Keep tuna and canned chicken on hand for no-cook protein options.

Nuts. Don’t forget walnuts and almonds for snacking and baking. Look for natural peanut butter without any hydrogenated oils.

Soup. Find lower-sodium soup and stock options for those days when you’re feeling under the weather.

Baking supplies. Fill your shelves with whole-wheat flour, canola oil, a variety of spices and dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and raisins.

Cereal. Look for low-sugar, whole-grain options in addition to old fashioned oats for healthy breakfast options.

Snacks. Check labels for whole-grain crackers and granola bars.

Here’s a recipe for a meal that highlights some of those pantry staples, including whole-grain pasta, tuna and spices. It’s on our family meal plan for next week because our new oven is officially getting installed this weekend. After surviving on a toaster oven and stovetop cooking for months, I am absolutely thrilled to finally bake something.