Healthy Pantry Eats

Use what you have on hand to make delicious (and healthy!) meals

By Elle Merrill, Registered Dietitian at Enlightened Nutrition April 29, 2020

Let’s talk easy meal & snack ideas that can come together from pantry staples! We all have been focusing on bulking up our pantry shelves, however that doesn’t mean your healthy meal ideas have to dwindle! Here are some of my meal ideas for you with ingredients you probably already have on hand! Remember, pantry staples can also be freezer items too, they won’t go bad!

 1)    Mac & Cheese

Yes, boxed mac and cheese is a great idea! I personally love Banza brand macaroni and cheese (high in protein and fiber), however this concept can apply to any favorite brand you prefer.

Cook according to instructions, then add in some color! Try some frozen spinach, canned diced tomatoes, frozen vegetable medley, anything you have on hand. This is also the time to add in a protein source if available, like leftover diced or shredded chicken, lean ground beef or steak, even diced and cooked tofu if that’s your jam. In this way you’re adding fiber, micro-nutrients & protein to your typical boring mac & cheese. 

2)    Tuna

I also have on hand some of those individual tuna pouches. They come in a variety of flavors and they $1 or less per pouch depending on where you purchase. My favorite way to eat them is by toasting up a slice or two of bread, then putting the tuna on top, add spinach if on hand, and then sprinkle mozzarella cheese. Put in the oven with broil setting up the cheese is bubbly. There you go, an easy tuna melt at home!

Tuna pouches are also great to add to a salad, a sandwich, even right out of the pouch as a snack. I really love the lemon pepper flavor!


3)    Smoothies

 Smoothies don’t have to be just fruit & milk. Let’s bulk them up to be filling enough for a meal! 

  • You can start with any frozen fruit you prefer. Frozen fruit is perfect because it won’t go bad and they have just as much if not more vitamins & minerals than fresh.  
  • Want to try a frozen veggie? Frozen cauliflower, spinach, or kale are all great options that you can’t taste in the finished product, promise!
  • Add milk of choice. You can definitely use a plant based variety which you can purchase as a shelf stable product until you open it, then store in the fridge. 
  • Add yogurt if on hand. This is a great way to add some probiotics to your diet and keep your gut happy. This also adds more flavor to your smoothie!
  • Other mix-ins: any nut butter can be delicious! It make your smoothie more satisfying and creamy. If you have flax seed or chia seed, this can really pump up the fiber keeping you full as well. 
  • For fun/sweetness: if you need a little more sweetness, you can always add honey or some chocolate chips!

4)    White Chicken Chili

 This one of my go-to recipes because not only is it so simple, it uses all shelf stable ingredients!  You can certainly used canned chicken breast instead of fresh. Usually 2-3 cans is plenty!  This recipe is great to make it your own as well. Use any other favorite beans you have in the pantry, or frozen veggies as well.  If you have leftovers, just divide into individual Tupperware containers and stick in the freezer for later!

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