13 Healthy Food Items You Should Always Have On Hand
Eating healthy usually requires frequent restock of perishable foods that need to be eaten within a few days.
But this isn’t always the case! There are plenty of food items you can keep in your kitchen for much longer. These can offer great options for when you’re running a bit low on groceries and still want to make a healthy meal.
In today’s blog, we go over 13 of these food items and why you should keep them in your kitchen at all times.
1. Dried/canned beans or lentils
Speaking of healthy foods, beans and lentils are among the healthiest things you can eat. They’re highly nutritious, offering protein, fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, and more. 
In addition to being healthy and filling, canned beans or lentils can last 2-5 years when stored at room temperature. And dried beans can last over 10 years! This is because dried beans lack the moisture for microbial growth. [2, 3, 4]
You can add black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas to soups, chilis, or salads. There are also many recipes online which call for these ingredients in everything from plant-based chickpea burger patties to black bean cakes!
2. Nuts and seeds
Depending on the type of nut or seed, these can last in your pantry for up to 4 months. This makes them a great choice to keep in your kitchen just in case. 
Nuts are loaded with nutrients and compounds that greatly benefit your health, including healthy fats, protein, fiber, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
To read up on specific benefits, check out our blog on almonds, along with our blog on pistachios.
Another option is natural nut and seed butters. Many of these have a long shelf life and don’t contain added oils or sugars, making them a healthier option.
You can eat nuts and seeds on their own, add them to salads, bowls, yogurt, and oatmeal, or toss them in smoothies. Additionally, you can use them to make your own sauces or spreads!
Rice, quinoa, oats, and spelt all have a long shelf life, able to live in your pantry for months or even years. These make them a smart choice to buy in bulk, and also a great food to always have on hand.
Grains are healthy options for bowls, salads, or soups. They’re versatile and convenient, yummy with different types of sauces and food combinations.
These grains are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients such as B vitamins, manganese, and magnesium. Eating them regularly has been shown to support the heart and fight off disease. 
4. Frozen fruit and vegetables
Since fresh fruits and veggies only have so long before they start going bad, it’s a good idea to have frozen options available. This can allow for you to have fruits and veggies at all times!
And don’t worry, frozen produce is just as nutritious as non-frozen produce, with some even arguing that it’s healthier. 
You can add your frozen veggies to soups, stir fries, and smoothies. Fruit can be added to yogurt, oatmeal, baked goods, and also smoothies.
5. Honey and maple syrup
Honey and maple syrup are natural sweeteners with added health benefits.
Maple syrup is rich in antioxidants, with nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Honey contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, along with antioxidants. [8, 9, 10]
These can both be a better option than sugar, giving recipes that need a sweetener a small nutritional boost.
Maple syrup can last a year in your pantry unopened and at least a year in your fridge once opened. And honey lasts forever!
6. Apple cider vinegar
Research has shown that apple cider vinegar (ACV) can have antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and heart-healthy properties. [11, 12, 13]
Though many people simply take it as-is for its ample health benefits, ACV has many uses in the kitchen. It can be added to sauces, dressings, and baked goods, plus it’s useful in homemade cleaners!
7. Healthy fats for cooking
Certain cooking oils like coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil can be kept for over a year at room temperature. This means you can always have a healthy fat to cook with on hand.
Cooking with these foods offers a healthy alternative to processed, less healthy oils.
To learn more, read our blog Should You Cook With Olive Oil?
8. Fermented foods
The bacteria in your gut plays a major role in your immune system and overall health. This is why you want to make sure you’re populating your gut with good bacteria and not bad bacteria. Fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi can help you achieve this.
Research has shown that these foods can improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and lower blood sugar levels. [14, 15, 16]
On top of that, they can last up to 18 months in your pantry, so feel free to stock up! Eat these straight from the jar or use them as yummy toppings or additions to salads and bowls.
9. Spices and dried herbs
Spices and herbs are a must for flavorful recipes. Plus, they last a long time, so you can always keep them on hand. Though they’ll be good to eat for a very long time, perhaps years and years, they do begin to lose their potency after 6 months, so be mindful of that.
Not only will spices bring your recipes to the next level, they can offer great health benefits. Turmeric, cayenne pepper, rosemary, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, and cumin all come with amazing health benefits, helping reduce inflammation and lowering risk of disease. 
10. Garlic and onions
Keeping them in a cool, dry, and dark area – or the fridge if needed – onions and garlic can last months.
This is great because not only are they the backbone of many recipes, they offer amazing health benefits. Research has shown that they can reduce the risk of disease and mental decline. [18, 19, 20]
11. Long lasting fruits and veggies
Speaking of onions and garlic, there are several other types of fruits and vegetables that can last for months in your kitchen.
Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, beets, cabbage, spaghetti squash, rutabagas, pomegranate, carrots, and citrus fruits are a few examples of produce that you can keep on hand for at least a few weeks.
If you’re unsure about shelf life, do a search online or ask the produce clerk at your local grocery store.
12. Healthy condiments
There are many healthy condiments that you can stock your fridge and pantry with that are extremely flavorful.
Consider stocking up on tahini, salsa, balsamic vinegar, coconut butter, mustard, nutritional yeast, tamari, or sriracha for some healthy condiment options.
Not only that, but many of these are called for in recipes.
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