The Healthy Pantry

Stock your cupboards with wholesome essentials and create easy, satisfying meals — fast.

Pantry items for your kitchen

We’ve all been there. It’s the end of a long day and the last thing you want to do is whip up another dinner. So, you do the easy thing and nuke a bowl of canned soup or, worse, settle for a bowl of chips and salsa. After all, you deserve a break sometimes, and this is what convenience food is for, right?

Although there is no shame in eating like a college freshman once in a while, the truth is that if you’re willing to open up just a few more cans, jars or boxes — and get creative — you can have a delectable meal on the table with little more effort than heating up that can of soup. And it will be good for you, too.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of go-to pantry items (see “Pantry Essentials,” below), as well as eight recipes that use no more than two or three additional perishable ingredients.

In a pinch, most of the recipes can be made without the fresh ingredients listed, which are highlighted in green, but they do brighten the flavor of the dishes and add some extra phytonutrients to the mix. So in the event you’re missing one type of produce, feel free to toss in any other workable veggies, fruits or herbs you have in your crisper drawer.

Have fun experimenting, and for more helpful pantry tips, as well as other quick recipe ideas, see “The Clean-Eats Pantry” at

Betsy Nelson (a.k.a. “That Food Girl”) is a Minneapolis-based food stylist and recipe developer.

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