Pantry, fridge and freezer essentials

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.

Pantry essentials

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

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

Corn kernels

Corn spears

Creamed corn



PeachesApricotAppleFruit salad


Tuna in spring waterSalmon in spring water



Cannellini beans


Baked beans

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

Oyster sauce

Fish sauce

Sweet chilli sauce

Plum sauce

Worcestershire sauce

Liquid stock (reduced salt)

Stock powder (reduced salt) – vegetables, chicken, beef


Vanilla extract

Coconut essence


BasilMixed herbsOreganoParsleyChivesRosemaryThymeDill







Black pepper

Mixed spice

Curry powder


Olive oilCanola oilSpray oilSesame oil

Balsamic vinegar

White vinegar

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.

Dried foods

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.

Fruit Grain Meat alternatives
SultanasPrunesMixed fruitApricots



Flour – plain, self- raising including wholemealCorn flour

Rolled oats

Pearl barley


Cous cous

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

Sesame seeds


Peanut butter

Other essential pantry itemsbag of potatoes

  •  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.

Fridge essentials

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

Cottage cheese

Ricotta cheese

Parmesan cheese

Canola or olive based margarine




The above fruits and vegetables can last up to a month if you store them correctly in the fridge. Follow these tips for maximum shelf life:bag of apples

  • 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.

Freezer essentials

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


Mixed vegetables



Wholegrain bread and rollsPita bread

Pizza base


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.

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