Stock your pantry: 10 must-haves


Stock your pantry: 10 must-haves

Make weeknight dinners and meal prep easier by stocking your pantry with healthy meal staples. Nancy Waldeck, a chef at Cancer Wellness, shares what she keeps in her pantry, plus cooking tips and two quick recipes that incorporate some of her favorite ingredients.

  • Canned beans. Add protein-rich black beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans and kidney beans to soups or chili, toss them on salads, or puree them for hummus and dips.

  • Dried fruit. Make your own healthy trail mix or snack on dried fruit on the go. Keep portion sizes small, as dried fruit can be higher in calories and sugar.

  • Fire roasted tomatoes. Ideal for making a quick pasta sauce, double the recipe and put half in the freezer. Try them in Waldeck's "Fast and Flavorful Tomato Sauce" recipe below.

  • Hot sauce, such as Sriracha. It adds a pop of spice to meals without excess fat and calories.

  • Mustards, oils and vinegars. Waldeck keeps a variety in her pantry to add a dash of flavor to sauces and dressings.

  • Nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews and peanuts are great for trail mix, a variety of recipes and on their own.

  • Rice and ancient grains. Try quinoa, amaranth, barley and brown rice.

  • Sardines and anchovies. Ideal for adding savory, salty flavor to your recipes.

  • Spices. Add zest to your meals without adding fat or calories.

  • Stone-ground oatmeal. Use it in overnight oats, pancakes and desserts. 

Recipe: Fast and flavorful tomato sauce


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

  • 3 large garlic cloves, grated or minced

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

  • 1 28-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes

  • 1 bouquet garni (made with any fresh herbs you have on hand, tied with kitchen twine) or 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste


  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions in the oil until they soften, about five minutes.

  • Add the garlic and salt, stir for an additional minute.

  • Add the entire can of tomatoes and the bouquet garni.

  • Simmer over medium heat for about 20 to 30 minutes longer.

  • Give it a big grind of black pepper and serve with your favorite whole wheat pasta, quinoa or protein.

Recipe: Date nut bites


  • ½ cup toasted almonds

  • ½ cup toasted walnuts

  • ½ cup toasted pecans

  • 16 pitted dates

  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or honey)

  • Zest of 2 oranges

  • ½ teaspoon cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt


  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is completely chopped and forms a thick paste.

  • Place in a bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour, up to overnight.

  • Remove from the fridge and with a spoon, make 1-inch balls by carefully pressing the mixture together.

  • Serve in mini cupcake liners. These will keep in the fridge for a week in an airtight container.

For more tips to simply meal planning, check out Waldeck's freezer must-haves.

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