12 Foods Dietitians Always Have on Hand

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If you’ve ever wondered what foods dietitians stock their fridges and pantry shelves with, you might be surprised to know it’s not all quinoa, kale and salmon. They rely on certain staple foods to help them create quick, nutritious meals at home. Here, 12 registered dietitians share their go-to, healthy fridge and pantry staples.

1. Frozen Vegetables

“They are great to throw in pasta or rice dishes, soups, stews, or just as a quick side dish. I like knowing that I always have a supply of veggies around in case I haven’t had time to go to the store.” —Kate Chury, RD

2. Short-Grain Brown Rice

“Short-grain brown rice is much more tender and flavorful than the long-grain brown rice you commonly see in the grocery store. I always make more than I need and freeze it for quick meals.” —Jenna Braddock, MSH, RDN, CSSD

3. Reduced-Salt or Unsalted Nuts

“No matter what meal or dish it is, you can always add nuts for more protein and fiber. Nuts are a staple in everything from my my breakfast cereal to homemade pesto.” —Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan, MS, RD, LDN

4. Greek Yogurt

“It is so versatile and is a great source of protein. I mix it with fruit for a sweet treat, in overnight oats for a doughy texture, and mix it with tuna or hard-boiled eggs for a quick tuna- or egg-salad sandwich. It also is a great substitute for sour cream in any Mexican-style dish.” —Kelsey Lorencz, RD

5. Frozen Veggie Burgers

“Packed with vegetables, fiber and protein, they’re perfect for a quick, weeknight meal or a grab-and-go lunch to take to the office. When I’m looking to add a little stay power to a salad, I’ll break one up over a big bowl of leafy greens.” —Elle Penner, MPH, RD  

6. Eggs

“Eggs truly are one of the most versatile and affordable foods. My family eats eggs hard-cooked, over easy, scrambled or as part of a roasted vegetable frittata. With 6 grams of high-quality protein,12 other essential nutrients and just 70 calories, eggs are truly a nutritional powerhouse and fridge staple!” —Karen Buch, RDN, LDN

7. Canned Beans

“I find them so versatile to include in everything from a stir-fry, pasta dishes, appetizers, salads and even desserts! They’re full of fiber and protein so it’s not hard to make a pretty balanced meal with just a few ingredients. Pro tip: I always drain and rinse beans very well to remove excess sodium.” —Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN

8. Fresh Garlic and Olive Oil

“Growing up in an Italian household, these are must haves for cooking. They also add healthy fats and help flavor foods without adding the unnecessary salt. They’re my go-to for making tasty salad dressings, marinating vegetables, meat, fish and poultry.” —Angelica Agami, MS, RD

9. Pre-Washed Leafy Greens

“I’m not always great at getting greens in, but I find if I keep a bag of fresh greens in the fridge, it’s easy to pull out and add a handful to sandwiches, eggs, smoothies, etc. A handful here and there adds up over the course of the week!” —Kate Lee, MPH, RDN

10. Frozen Fruit

“I use it in smoothies, mixed in oatmeal or yogurt, or spoon it on top of waffles or pancakes. Having a bag in the freezer comes in handy when I don’t have fresh fruit on hand. Definitely a must-have for me!” —Jenna Gorham, RD, LN

11. Brown Rice Noodles

“They have more fiber than white rice noodles and are a great vehicle for veggies. Plus they don’t require cooking. Just soak them in hot water! For a quick weeknight meal I’ll add them to a stir-fry made with frozen vegetables, chicken, soy sauce and a little peanut butter.” —Wendy Wesley, RDN

12. Canned Tomatoes

“I use them as a base for homemade tomato sauce and add them to stews and chilis in the winter. I buy ones that are purely tomatoes and add my own seasonings so I can control the sodium and add my own flavor.” —Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN

Are there other healthy staples that you try to keep on hand? Share in the comments what your go-to ingredients are!

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