13 foods every household should have on hand right now, according to nutritionists

Plus- easy recipes that use them!

MADISON, Wis. — Buying, storing, and cooking fresh food is especially challenging right now, but dietitians say there are several healthy eating staples every family should have on hand during this pandemic.

“You know me,” registered dietitian Tami Schiltz told News 3 Now. “I’m all about vegetables and want to encourage people to still focus on getting in what they can!”

Schiltz and other dietitians agree that while fresh produce is almost always the best option, there are plenty of healthy alternatives that are easy to store and prepare when that’s not available… or you run out!

Canned beans and chickpeas, both good sources of protein, can be stores for months or even years and can be used in everything from soups and salads to side dishes. You can even turn them into dessert. Click here for the recipe Schiltz uses.

Eggs, hard cheeses, and frozen meat are also good protein options.

Canned oily fish like sardines, mackerel, and salmon are rich in protein, Omega 3 fatty acids, and a range of vitamins and minerals. They can be used cold in sandwiches, salads, or pasta dishes, or cooked as part of a warm meal. Here is the salmon cake recipe Schiltz recommends.

Pasta sauce and noodles can be an easy pantry go-to option and make great leftovers. Look for higher protein noodle options like Banza, Modern Table, or Barilla Protein Plus.

Canned vegetables, like tomatoes, tend to contain lower amounts of vitamins than fresh produce, nutritionists say they are still a good fallback options when fresh or frozen vegetables are hard to come by. Dried goods, like dried beans and grains such as rice or quinoa, are also nutritious, long-lasting options that are tasty, affordable, and filling.

Rolled oats are also inexpensive and good to have on hand for breakfast.


Here are a few more tips from Schiltz to keep in mind:

  1. Buy as much fresh produce as you think you can eat before it starts going bad, and then use frozen options until you can get back to the store or order online.
  2. Consume produce in order of its expiration date. For example, eat your lettuce and spinach first, and then start roasting things like broccoli and cauliflower later in the week because they will hold up longer.
  3. Cut up and freeze your soon-to-expire produce to use later in another recipe rather than throw it out. For example, dice onions and/or peppers to throw in a soup later.
  4. Look for ways to re-purpose, and don’t dump! Don’t throw away your broccoli or cauliflower stems. You can easily turn them into waffles or buns once they’re roasted. Click here for Schiltz’ recipe. Click here for instructions on how to do that.