pantry essentials for healthy home cooking

When you’re trying to eat healthier, it’s typical to pile your shopping cart high with fruit and vegetables, but you need more than produce on your shopping list for healthy home cooking that tastes great too. So, to save you from just eating boring salads, here we have a list of some essential pantry investments to have on hand for tastier home cooking.

Herbs & Spices

Adding herbs and spices to your food gives your meals an upgrade by adding flavor, many additional health benefits, and, last but not least, certain herbs and spices, such as ginseng, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper, can actually promote weight loss by boosting metabolism and balancing blood sugar levels. The trick to creating your own personal supply of pantry essentials is to look for healthier recipes for some of your favorite foods, or the types of foods you would like to start cooking and see what herbs and spices they contain. You might see that some of the recipes include the same versatile herbs, such as basil, in which case you might like to keep them in stock as both fresh and dried herbs. And, if you feel like exercising your green fingers, how about planting a herb garden come spring? Even if you just have a windowsill, growing your own herbs could mean that you have a fresh supply of your favorites without even having to go to the supermarket!

These herbs and spices are a great place to start stocking up your pantry spice rack:

Fresh Herbs

Basil, Sage, Mint, Rosemary, Cilantro, Chives

Dried Herbs

Garlic Powder, Oregano, Basil, Bay Leaves


Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Chili Powder, Cayenne, Ginger

Oil & Vinegar

For a well-stocked pantry ready-made for healthy cooking, olive oil is an absolute essential. Olive oil has around the same amount of calories as other oils, but it has many more health benefits as one of the 'good fats'. Olive oil provides omega 3 and 6, and includes both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), and all of these add up to you looking better, being healthier and losing weight. What’s more, the MUFAs in olive oil have been found to stop the build-up of belly fat, the most dangerous place to carry excess weight.

There are many different types of olive oil but the two you really need in stock are standard olive oil and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). So, what’s the difference between them? Olive oil doesn’t have much flavor but is great to cook with, so you’ll need a bigger bottle but don’t spend too much on this purchase. EVOO, on the other hand, is the rawest form of olive oil you can get, and if it’s good it will be full of flavor. However, you shouldn’t cook with EVOO as adding heat to it removes its flavor and since EVOO is more expensive this would be a waste; you should just use EVOO in salad dressings, dips, and to pour over food before serving to really taste its flavor.

Vinegars are another pantry investment; balsamic vinegar is now one of the most popular as it adds tons of flavor but few calories. The important thing to remember with vinegar is that you’ll rarely cook with it so having a great flavor is essential since you’ll be using it raw. The best balsamic vinegars are sticky, so if it’s hard to clean up then it’s good! Apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or white wine vinegar will also be god investments for your pantry. There’s no need to go for the most expensive, but don’t skimp either, as they will last a long time and you’ll want vinegars with a good flavor.

pantry essentials for healthy home cooking

Fridge Essentials

As well as these shopping cart recommendations, these five specific products are extra useful to have in your fridge for healthy AND tasty home cooking:

  • 0% Greek Yogurt - Yogurt is full of fat-fighting calcium and vitamin D, and Greek yogurt in particular is also high in protein. And, not only is Greek yogurt a perfect snack when combined with fruit, it is also a great swap for cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise – and with only around 30 calories in ¼ cup compared to 120 for sour cream and 230 for cheese!
  • Eggs – eggs are one of the 'bad foods' that you should be eating and an absolute must for your fridge. Not only are they incredibly versatile, they are also cited as ‘the perfect food’ due to being super filling and packed with protein, plus egg yolks are also a good source of choline, which is known to help block the absorption of fat.
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk – although almond milk tastes different to regular milk if you drink it, it’s a great milk replacement in cooking as you won’t be able to tell the difference and it contains only 40 calories per cup – 100 calories less than 2% milk! Plus, it lasts forever in your fridge and is perfect for adding to delicious fruit smoothies or comforting hot drinks if you’re feeling under the weather this winter as dairy can aggravate a sore throat.
  • Hot Sauce – if you’re a fan of spicy foods then this is great way to add lots of flavor and make your healthy meals pack a punch without the calories. Plus, adding some spice to your lunch has been found to stop the afternoon munchies; researchers have found that spicy foods subdue hunger cravings because of how they interact with the trigeminal nerve, producing a thermogenic heating effect that simultaneously boosts metabolism and suppresses hunger. So, both your taste buds and your waistline will be happy!
  • Mustard – Much like EVOO, vinegar and hot sauce, this is a great ingredient to add flavor to any dish. If you’re a mustard fan, Dijon and English mustard are the most versatile and can be added to chicken dishes, potatoes, salad dressings and sandwiches for a taste boost with minimal calories.

With these key pantry investments and this list of essential jars, tins and dried foods to stock up your pantry with, you’ll be planning and preparing healthy and delicious home cooked meals and on the way to weight loss success in no time! And don’t forget, if you need extra help on your weight loss journey with appetite suppression and energy boosting then Phen Caps are another essential investment to help you establish a healthy eating routine for the long term.

What are you own personal pantry essentials? Let us know by commenting below!