The best pantry staples for healthy eating

They’re delicious, nutritious, budget friendly and all available from your local supermarket. Add these foods to your shopping list, stat!

Fact: feeding the family on a budget and serving up delicious, healthy meals is possible.

Don’t believe us? Well, let dietitian and exercise physiologist Michael Lawler of Eat Me Nutrition convince you with his shopping list of simple and nutritious pantry staples.

Full-cream milk

Delicious, creamy and so good for you, full-cream milk is a great source of calcium, B vitamins, magnesium and zinc.

It is so powerful for keeping your immune system healthy, maintaining good bone health as well as driving good energy levels.

My whole family and I go through about 1.5L every day between myself, my wife and our two kids, who are both under the age of three.


Weekend breakfasts in our house wouldn’t be complete without them. Eggs are so versatile, so if they aren’t in my pantry, I quickly lose a lot of meal variety.

My favourite part about eggs is that their yoke is naturally rich in choline, which is great for a healthy metabolism, neurotransmission, methylation and transport of fats.

They’re also a great source of healthy proteins and essential amino acids.


Cheese is loaded with calcium, zinc, B vitamins and magnesium, and is also a good source of protein. A little bit goes along way and strong-flavoured cheeses leave you feeling satisfied in only a few bites.

And that’s not just versatile block-style cheese; soft cheeses, like camembert and brie, liven up a chicken and pomegranate salad or are just nice to have with apple slices and wine.

Parmesan is also great for adding to pasta dishes or shaving over salads, and ricotta or fetta make a healthy but creamy pasta sing.

Shave some fetta on this zucchini ‘spaghetti’ with tomato pasta for a healthy, yet creamy kick.

Dense, grainy bread

Bread really has had a bad wrap over the years but it need not be that way. Quality, low-GI breads that use wholegrains will keep you full and help you to maintain good blood-sugar levels.

These kind of breads have also been linked to better weight management, increased longevity of life and general wellness over the years.

Asian greens

These vegetables are filling, satisfying, nourishing, versatile and cheap.

Asian greens, like bok choy and gai lan, are so alkalising and rich in folate that my family and I try to eat them as often as possible in stirfries, salads, soups and just about any dish you need a fresh flush of green in.

This stirfried beef, bok choy and gai lan is as healthy as it is delicious.

Tinned four-bean mix

Once you learn how to use these beans in your cooking, you’ll realise what you’ve been missing.

Packed with healthy proteins, fats and fibres, this bean mix is a great low-GI source of carbohydrates that everyone should eat at least a couple of times per week.

Herbs and spices

A well-stocked herbs and spices rack will keep your whole family happier, healthier and enjoying more food variety.

I just love adding different combinations, and, by weight, spices can have some of the highest levels of antioxidants and trace minerals available in our food supply.

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