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5 Smart Ways to Stock a Nutrient-Rich Pantry

By Dayle Hayes, MS, RD

Since 2005, has provided Americans with the gold standard in nutrition advice. Use the site to track your food intake or to get a personalized MyPyramid menu plan. Check out the newest feature where you can learn about calories and serving sizes for 1000’s of foods.

If you want to enjoy all the benefits of a healthful eating style, the most basic place to start is with your kitchen cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer. If you have nutrient-rich foods and beverages from all groups on hand, it is much easier to put tasty meals on the table easily and quickly. Here are some delicious inexpensive ways to do just that!
Choose foods that say 100% whole grain or list a whole grain as the first ingredient on the Nutrition Facts panel. In addition to breads and rolls, shop for sales on whole grain cereal, oatmeal, and brown rice. Buying in bulk and sales are also good ways to buy whole grain pasta, barley, and other grains. Go to for recipes and more.

2. Vary the vegetables in the fridge and freezer.
Here’s some smart news about veggies, especially in winter: Frozen and canned are great options when fresh veggies are expensive or hard to find. For example, buy a large bag of frozen broccoli, take out just enough for your meal, reseal the bag carefully, and put it back in the freezer. For more veggie tips and recipes, go to

3. Focus on fruits on all the shelves.
Like veggies, fruits come in a variety of nutrient-rich forms, including fresh, frozen, dried, canned, and 100% juice. For smart winter buys, look for canned-in-juice varieties, dried plums and raisins, and new crops of apples, pears, and citrus fruit. Want to get your children excited about colorful fruits and vegetables? Go to

4. Stock the fridge with calcium-rich foods.
It’s super simple to get your 3 dairy servings every day by drinking a refreshing glass of fat-free/low-fat milk with every meal. If you are not a regular milk drinker, there are plenty of other delicious ways to get calcium-rich foods. Just make certain that your fridge is filled with yogurt and cheese. Need some more recipes ideas? Try

5. Go with lean proteins on every shelf.
Lean proteins are a good fit on every shelf in your kitchen: ground beef, wild game, and salmon fillets in the freezer; chicken breasts, pork loin, and beef steak in the fridge; and tuna, beans, peanut butter, and nuts in the cupboard. Remember, eggs are a lean protein and a real nutrition bargain too! Find recipes and tips at

For more fun, easy tips on healthy living, go to

Dayle HayesDayle Hayes, MS, RD
Author, Speaker, and Nutrition Therapist

Dayle Hayes is a registered dietitian committed to innovative, delicious nutrition solutions for busy families. As a consultant to Billings Clinic, she specializes in positive nutrition tips, eating disorders, and sports nutrition. Dayle graduated from U. Mass-Boston and received a Masters of Science in Community Health Education from U. Mass-Amherst.
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