A Nutrition Coach’s Guide To Non-Perishables
Non-perishable foods may not sound like the most appealing way to eat, but they can be a healthy, sustainable, and important food category to have stocked in your pantry. Although some items like boxed macaroni and cheese are non-perishable, they’re also packed with preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients that won’t leave you thriving in a time, like right now, when your health is the most important thing you have. Here are a few of my favorite non-perishables that I stocked up on to get us through these weird times:
Oats, quinoa, farro, brown and white rice are all great options to have stocked in your pantry. Grains last about 6 months, if stored correctly in an air-tight container. Oats, quinoa, and farro are packed with fiber, protein, and other nutrients that are great to add as a side to meals or make overnight oats for the next morning.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are portable, nutrient-dense, and shelf-stable, making them a non-perishable food staple. Favored by backpackers and hikers for high calorie snacking, they’re also great to have on hand in any situation, like having as a snack when you can’t leave your house. On average, nuts and seeds last about 4 months when kept at or near room temperature (depending on the nut).
A pantry essential. Remember to look at the ingredients on this product though – as it is known to sneak in funky ingredients like added sugar (a lot) and hydrogenated oils. Look for nut butters that have 1-2 ingredients – peanuts (or cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc.), and salt (optional). Nuts have a ton of natural oil in them, so added oils are extremely unnecessary in this product.
Frozen Vegetables & Fruits
Really great to have during a lockdown, as fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t ideal, this is the next best thing. They can be used in nutrient-dense smoothies (here’s my favorite smoothie that includes frozen cauliflower rice), steamed for a side for dinner, or added on top of oatmeal. When choosing canned or frozen, opt for frozen. Canned fruits are usually soaked in syrup and veggies are loaded with sodium.
While I know these aren’t non-perishable, eggs can last in your fridge for up to 5 weeks. So if you’re mandated to not leave your house for whatever reason – these are a cheap, nutrient-packed option to have on hand and will last you a good chunk of time.
While obviously fresh, uncooked meat doesn’t last long in the fridge. It is smart to stock up on your choice of meats and store in the freezer – to have ready to pull out the night before you’re going to cook. I always have bacon and turkey sausages for easy breakfasts, salmon and chicken for dinners, and ground turkey and sausage to make homemade pasta sauces.
Pasta & Sauce
Whether you choose regular pasta, chickpea pasta, or black bean pasta – they’re a non-perishable essential to keep in the pantry. Jarred sauces will last in the pantry for up to one year unopened. Once you open a jar, if you’re unable to use the whole thing, you can put it in a freezer-friendly container and store in there until you’re ready to use the rest.
Canned Tuna or Salmon
Although fresh fish and poultry are packed with nutrients, they’re highly perishable – only lasting up to a couple days in the fridge uncooked. All the same, canned varieties can be safely kept without refrigeration for long periods — up to 5 years at room temperature.
Protein Bars & Granola
Biggest tip for these non-perishables: Read. The. Ingredients. Look for a simple, short list of ingredients, no sugar added, and no hydrogenated oils. Keep an eye out for ingredients you can read and understand. Protein bars and granola are great, when done right. There are few and far between that meet those guidelines for me, but a few of my favorite brands for protein bars are: Lara Bars, Rx Bars, Go Macro, and Rawr Bars.
Dehydrated or canned soups
I try to choose dehydrated over canned from an ingredient standpoint. But nowadays there are many healthy canned soup options that aren’t loaded with preservatives and sodium. Both canned and dehydrated soups have a pretty long shelf life, so in uncertain times when you’re not sure when your next trip to the grocery store will be, these are essential.
For those who prefer to buy fresh for the most part, I understand that these times can be challenging and confusing! But know that you don’t have to resort to eating boxed and frozen meals that will throw you out of your routine. Stay healthy out there, folks. Let me know if I can help you during these times in any way!