Whipping up an easy meal or snack that’s packed with nutrients usually requires a well-stocked kitchen. However, if you’re trying to avoid food waste, then you are likely not stocking up on a lot of highly perishable items. That said, there are still several healthy, long-lasting staples for your pantry, freezer, and fridge that you can use to throw together a healthy snack, even if you’re low on your go-to ingredients.
Here are 15 healthy longer-lasting food items to keep on hand:
Dried and canned beans and lentils. Many of us probably remember that dried and canned beans and lentils are always highly valued at local food drives. This is because they are amongst the healthiest foods you can eat (they are packed with nutrients like fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, and iron) and they have very long shelf lives, making them a convenient non-perishable food choice to keep in your kitchen.
Canned beans can be stored at room temperature for around two to five years, while dried beans can last over a decade.
Nuts, seeds, and their butter. Nuts and seeds are known for their healthy fats, filling protein, fiber, and many other vitamins and minerals. Many nuts and seeds can be kept at room temperature for months, making them a convenient and easy-to-store snack.
Also, consider ditching commercial nut spreads and butter and grabbing their healthier natural nut and seed counterparts. These natural choices will likely have less added oils and sugar.
Grains. Grains are an excellent source of fiber and micronutrients, including B vitamins, manganese, and magnesium. Plus, eating them may help protect against conditions like heart disease and certain cancers. There are also such a variety of grains to choose from, such as spelt, brown rice, amaranth, bulgur, oats, and quinoa, all of which can be stored at room temperature for years.
Frozen fruit and veggies. Frozen fruits and veggies are sometimes not held in the same regard as fresh produce, but in reality, frozen produce is comparable to fresh produce in micronutrient content, making them a healthy freezer staple that won’t go bad in a matter of days.
Honey and maple syrups. Raw honey and maple syrup are natural sweeteners that bring more than sweetness to the table. Raw honey has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as powerful antioxidants. Maple syrup is also packed with antioxidants and small amounts of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Just don’t overdo it as too much sugar from any source isn’t great for your health.
Apple cider vinegar. We’ve written before about the multiple benefits of apple cider vinegar. Not only is it an effective all-purpose cleaner, but it can also be used in other recipes like sauces, salad dressings, or baked goods.
Healthy fats for cooking. Some fats like coconut oil, ghee, and olive oil, can be stored at room temperature for over a year, depending on the type. Cooking with these healthy fats will add flavor to recipes and help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from food.
Fermented foods. Fermented foods aren’t just long-lasting, delicious, and versatile, but they also offer several health benefits. Studies demonstrate their ability to improve digestive health and help reduce inflammation and blood sugar levels.
Snack on these tangy foods straight from the jar, or use them as toppings for salads and other dishes.
Spices and dried herbs. Any avid cook will tell you that a well-stocked spice rack is an essential feature of anyone’s kitchen. Spices and herbs don’t just elevate the flavor of your food but can promote your health in a number of ways.
Garlin and onions. Both common ingredients are a favorite of professional chefs and home cooks for their versatility and long shelf life. Their regular consumption may also reduce your risk of a variety of illnesses including heart disease and diabetes.
Long-lasting fresh fruits and veggies. As we discussed earlier, a lot of fresh produce spoils in a matter of days, but there are some varieties that are more long-lasting than others.
Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, and beets are just a few examples of fruits and veggies that keep for a few weeks or more!
Frozen fish, poultry, and meat. Opting for frozen fish, poultry, or meat means that your products will stay edible for much longer. Having a good supply of these frozen items can help you prepare healthy, protein-filled meals even when good quality animal protein sources are limited.
Healthy condiments. Instead of grabbing popular, highly processed, sugar-filled products, try choosing healthier options like tahini, salsa, coconut aminos, mustard, or nutritional yeast. These alternatives can help you boost your health without compromising on taste.
Eggs. Eggs are full of protein and almost every vitamin and mineral your body needs to reach optimum health. They are also versatile and last for weeks. Try to purchase pasture-raised eggs as the hens are treated better and the eggs will be more nutritious.
Full fat yogurt. You may be tempted to reach for nonfat and reduced-fat yogurt, but full-fat yogurt is the most nutritious option and is associated with a number of health benefits. Full fat yogurt may offer you protection against heart disease as well as the development of belly fat. Most yogurt can be kept for up to three weeks in the fridge. Plus, the expiry date on yogurt is more like a guideline. If it still looks, tastes, and smells fresh, then ignore the expiry date and enjoy!