Stocking Your Kitchen With Healthy Basics For Anytime Cook-Ups!

Blog post

In our last issue, we shared one of the best tips about shopping in a grocery market – stick to the real food around the perimeter!  Now we share how to use the center aisles to best support your health and weight loss! The secret is… find the basic whole foods that will best prepare YOU for your ready-to-cook adventures.  If you have the items you need on hand, you will be more likely to cook at home, and less tempted to order take-out or head out to eat!  

The goal is to build your pantry with items that will naturally last a long time, and be there for when you have the inspiration to cook.  First, we’ll cover a few tips on how to get what’s good, and bypass all the products not designed with your health in mind.  Then we’ll give you some examples of pantry categories and specific items to begin to play with!

5 tips on how to navigate the aisles to find real food for your pantry

1) Begin with a quality meal before you head to the grocery store.  This reminds you of how good it feels to eat for your health and guarantees that you won’t be driven by your immediate hunger.

2) Arrive with a list, or a general idea, of what you need (see basic pantry categories below.)

3) MOST IMPORTANT:  Pass by the items that have refined sugars and flours and unpronounceable ingredients! Just do it.  Keep moving.  Your goal is to find real food (even in the midst of packaged products of questionable repute).

4) Aim for 3-4 different types of food items for each category in your pantry.  Variety is key to having a pantry that is flexible day to day, week to week, recipe to recipe.

5) Try something new!   It’s ready for you whenever you’re inspired!

Start Now!  Create your pantry with the important basic categories, which can include a variety that changes over time!  Start with 3-4 in each category!

1) REAL FATS AND OILS.  Key to any meal.  For example: butter, olive oil, coconut oil, nut oils, ghee.

2) WHOLE GRAINS.   Easy base to use in many dishes.  Examples: brown rice, quinoa, basmati rice, barley, black rice, amaranth, oats, millet.

3) WHOLE NUTS AND SEEDS.  Many ways to use in sauces, salads, or atop most meals!  Examples:  walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds.  Nut butter.

4) WHOLE BEANS.  Dried.  Or canned.  For example: kidney beans, pintos, garbanzos, black beans, great northern, white beans, red beans, lima beans, lentils.

5) SAUCES & BASES.  Common additions to many dishes, to be finessed by your own evolution into a cook, and the flavors you like.  Examples: apple cider vinegar, bone broth, spices and herbs, vanilla, honey, maple syrup, cocoa powder, coconut, soy sauce, almond flour,

6) CANNED GOODIES.  Make these special items you like, that can serve as a base to a meal or an exciting accent!  Designed to last.  Examples:  tuna, salmon, trout, clams, sardines, pickles, olives, capers, artichoke hearts, olive tapenades, olives, roasted red pepper, canned tomatoes.

7) FROZEN GOODS.  Of course fresh is best, but when it comes to fruit and veggies, if you don’t have anything fresh at hand or if a certain ingredient is out of season and expensive, this is the next best way.  Can easily throw into a soup, a meal, or heat up in a pan. For those beginning to cook, a frozen meal can be a base you can add to and build upon.    Examples:  green beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries.

Need more space in your pantry?   It may be time to get rid of the items that you can’t recognize as growing from the earth!  Feel bad wasting food?  Do you prefer those foods to go inside of you and your family or in the trash?!  Go for it!

Remember to include some favorites!  Some new items!  Some comfort food treats!  You’ll be set for the season.


  • CJ Johnson

    April 27, 2018 at 5:08 am

    Some real good stuff. Most I had picked up from my mom, as a youngster. We didn’t get desserts we got treats and they were rare. I was married and I never knew you could get scalloped potatoes in a box. One try and that was were they stayed. YUK!!! About 15 yrs ago I was put on a strict low sodium diet. 2 weeks later I tested. When I went in for my check-up my Dr. yelped and looked stunned. I said oh God I’m going to die. He looked at me and said no your sodium count is cut in half what did you do. He said what did you do to get it down so low so fast. I said well you said I had to cut it out as much as possible I went home and threw out anything that had salt that I could. I haven’t used it since and my butter is unsalted. I make all my own soups homemade and prefer them. I buy tomato soup once in a blue moon because I can only do a little as I have GERDS. With me quick and easy is the best method to start. Clean it all out NOW. I am not a big sweet person. I eat a little ice cream every couple of months. No I don’t do it all perfectly or I wouldn’t be so over weight. My biggest failure is not being healthy. I don’t seek nourishment. I eat 1 meal a day because I take meds period. I did diet as a teen but it was easier to just stop eating then following rules and measuring. If I could encourage any one I would say this. When you make a healthy change and stick to it you really do stop wanting foods that pour toxins into your body. I have people who can’t stop pouring salt on their food say they would rather die. You just might. But if you do it a little at a time and keep it up till it is gone when you go out you don’t enjoy the salt laden food. It actually burns my mouth and I don’t eat very much of it. Food taste soooo much better when you can actually taste it and not just salt. The second thing I love is I was given a gift of a misto. It’s a small container you fill half way and it takes olive oil and makes it a spray so you don’t use as much. So someone unable to see they are using too much can cut down easily and not even realize it. Go be the healthy, happiest you can be!!!

    1. homemade

      May 4, 2018 at 3:42 am

      thanks for sharing CJ! Some great advice in there, thanks for sharing your experiences. And eating for Nourishment is key, so focus on tiny changes every day or week. Keep it up! warmly Anna

  • Bridgett

    March 3, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    I’m so confused about grains,beans, etc. My hubby is a diabetic. So, I always thought those would raise his blood sugar. Also, I buy the natures own whole grain bread. But it shows high in carbs. I’m trying to cut him off sugar. It’s very hard. I need help!

    1. Maddy Kuhn

      March 4, 2019 at 12:58 am

      Hi Bridgett, great question! Carbohydrates, such as grains and beans, do affect and raise blood sugars, however, when choosing the RIGHT type of carbohydrate high in soluble fiber and when paired with healthy fats and protein, they do not spike blood sugars and are actually a source of tons of vitamins, minerals, and wonderful nutrients that would be beneficial for his health. Carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains, lentils, and beans) are our bodies preferred source of energy so they should never be cut out completely from a balanced diet. Whole grains and beans are high in fiber which has been shown to stabilize blood sugars, help with weight loss, and lower blood cholesterol levels to name a few health benefits. Whole grains also reduce risk for certain chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancers, and high blood cholesterol. He doesn’t necessarily need to be cut off sugar completely, but more importantly needs to have less processed and artificial foods and his body needs to be fueled with nourishing, whole-foods that will help stabilize and maintain his blood sugars in a normal range. We have a variety of nourishing and satisfying recipes on the blog that are perfect for those with diabetes. We hope you will try some out! Warmly, Bailee

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