Eating healthy can seem hard, especially when there’s no time to run to the store and all you have in your pantry is sugary cereals, white rice and pasta.
But there’s so much more to nutritious eating than fresh produce. If you keep some frozen veggies and one of these long-lasting pantry staples on hand, then making a last-minute meal that hits all your nutritional markers is easier than you might think.
1. Brown rice
Fiber- and protein-rich brown rice is a pantry staple that can last six months or longer after it’s opened. Keep it in an airtight container to preserve freshness.
2. Whole-grain pasta
Whole-grain pasta, a fiber- and protein-rich ingredient, can last for one to two years past its best-by date. It’s a great way to make some of your favorite comfort foods a little more nutritious.
3. Dried beans
Dried beans are a great source of protein and fiber. They can remain safe to eat for up to 30 years, though vitamin loss may be experienced after three years. Levels of protein, carbs and trace minerals remain intact, though, so if you’re really desperate, they’ll work in a pinch.
4. Dried peas
Peas are a vegetarian protein powerhouse, great in soups and stews. They keep for up to five years in an airtight container.
5. Dried lentils
Hearty lentils make a great addition to soups, stews and curries. They keep almost indefinitely when stored in an airtight container, though they may experience vitamin loss after two to three years.
Oat is a whole grain that’s been found to reduce cholesterol and help prevent diabetes. It can last six months or longer when stored in an airtight container.
Quinoa contains all nine amino acids, making it a great source of protein. It can last for two to three years past the date listed on the package if stored in an airtight container.
Honey is naturally antimicrobial and one of the only foods that can truly last forever. It may crystallize over time, but gently heating it in a bath of warm water should smooth things right out.
Vinegar is a salt- and sugar-free way to add some flavor to foods. Because of its high acidity, white vinegar lasts nearly indefinitely. Sweeter varieties, like balsamic, may get hazy or develop sediment over time but generally will remain safe to eat. Apple cider vinegar is good for about five years.
Almonds have more protein, calcium, fiber and vitamin E than most other tree nuts, and the least amount of saturated fat. Keep them on hand for snacking or to add some crunch to salads and oatmeal. Raw almonds in their shells can last up to three years; whole raw or dry-roasted almonds can last up to two years; and oil-roasted almonds last up to 18 months.