Having a cleverly stocked pantry, fridge and freezer is essential for creating quick and easy meals. Use this list to ensure you have all the basic ingredients on hand to make healthy meals every night of the week. You can also use it as a starting point for a grocery shopping list.
Most foods from the pantry have a long shelf life provided you store them properly. Certain pantry basics such as canned foods and jars of curry or tomato pastes need to be refrigerated after opening. Always check the storage recommendations on the label after opening these foods.
Canned foods are great cost effective, long lasting pantry items that can be used in a range of healthy recipes. Always choose low salt varieties; avoid canned foods that are high in fat such as coconut milk and; choose canned fruits in natural juice instead of syrup.
|Vegetables||Fruit||Meat and alternatives||Dairy|
|Tuna in spring waterSalmon in spring water
|Reduced fat evaporated milkCoconut flavoured evaporated milk|
Sauces, herbs, spices and dressings
These items are our flavour essentials. Basic recipes can easily be turned into Indian curries or Asian laksas based on choosing the right flavour combinations.
|Sauces and flavourings||Herbs and spices||Oils and dressings|
|Tomato pasteCurry pasteLaksa pasteSoy sauce, salt reduced
Sweet chilli sauce
Liquid stock (reduced salt)
Stock powder (reduced salt) – vegetables, chicken, beef
|Olive oilCanola oilSpray oilSesame oil
Reduced fat mayonnaise
Reduced fat salad dressings
If fresh herbs are difficult to find or out of season then you can always rely on the dry alternative. Because dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs, you’ll need less — typically three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry.
It is essential that all dried foods are stored in an air tight container to help extend their shelf life and avoid pests. If you live in a humid area then many of grain foods such as flour and rolled oats may store better in the fridge or freezer to prevent mould growth.
|Flour – plain, self- raising including wholemealCorn flour
Rice – Arborio, Basmati, brown
Pasta – spaghetti, risoni, lasagne sheets
Reduced fat instant noodles
|Red lentilsBrown lentils
Yellow split peas
Nuts (unsalted) – cashews, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts
- Long life reduced fat milk – avoid running out of milk.
- Potatoes – store them in baskets or hessian bags to allow good air circulation and place them in the darkest part of the pantry.
- Onions and garlic – store them like you would for potatoes but don’t put them in the same basket as the potatoes or they will spoil quicker.
Products purchased for the fridge are going to have a shorter shelf life than pantry items. Always be sure that you will use them before purchasing to save having to throw food out.
Below are some of the most common fridge items that you are likely to need on a regular basis to prepare healthy dinners.
|Vegetables and fruit||Dairy||Meat alternatives|
|CarrotsLemons and limes
|Reduced fat milk or soy milkReduced fat natural yoghurt
Reduced fat cheese
Reduced fat feta cheese
Canola or olive based margarine
- keep vegetables in a plastic bag in the crisper. For carrots, place a paper towel in the bag to prevent moisture build up and mould
- keep apples, lemons and limes in separate plastic bags in the crisper.
A well-stocked freezer can contain many essential ingredients that will help to get a quick and effortless dinner on the table fast.
|Vegetables and fruit||Grains||Meat and alternatives|
|Wholegrain bread and rollsPita bread
|Fish fillets (not crumbed)Chicken – breast, thigh
Beef – lean mince, steak
Pork – lean steak
Lamb – lean cutlets
Lean short cut bacon
When buying meat save money by buying in bulk and repackaging the amount you would need in one meal in freezer bags or ziplock bags. Just transfer them to your fridge to defrost the night before you’re ready to use them.
Did you know? Because they are frozen within hours of being picked, frozen vegetables can be even healthier than fresh versions.