- Fruit: Look for canned fruit that has no added sugar. Canned peaches, pears, pineapple, grapefruit and mandarins are all great options.
- Vegetables: A great source of fiber, vitamin C and other nutrients, canned veggies like corn, carrots, peas and green beans, are a great addition to lots of meals, from omelets to casseroles.
- Beans: All varieties of canned beans — from black beans to pinto beans — are a great source of plant protein and can be used in everything from tacos to grain bowls and soups.
- Ravioli: If you have kids, keeping a few of these on hand will be a fun way to perk up meal time.
- Fish: A wonderful source of both protein and omega-3 fatty acids, canned fish (such as tuna, salmon, anchovies and sardines), can be used in sandwiches for lunch and main dinner dishes.
- Soups and chilis: Pick up several different varieties for everyone in your household. Keep in mind that you can always perk up relatively plain soups with extra veggies and your favorite spices.
2. Pantry Staples
You might already have plenty of pasta and peanut butter in your pantry, but when you have to rely on these items for more than a few days, they tend to run out quickly. Restock your kitchen cabinets with these essentials and other family favorites.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a healthy seed that makes a great base for grain bowls and salads; it's also great added to soups and stews. Brown rice, barley and bulgur are other tasty whole grains. Pick up a couple boxes of each.
- Pasta: This pantry staple is essential, whether you choose the classic wheat-based kind or a bean-based, gluten-free variety. A box of dried pasta makes eight servings, so a family of four may want to buy four or more boxes for a two-week period.
- Chicken, beef or vegetable stock: Low in calories, but also a great source of protein, stocks are great as the base of hearty soups and stews. They also add wonderful flavor to cooked grains and rice.
- Dried fruit: While dried fruits do not contain the water that fresh fruit does, they do contain plenty of nutrients. Dried fruit can be used to top cereal, oatmeal and yogurt, and it can also be added to baked goods.
- Nuts and nut butter: Nutrient-dense and full of plant-based protein, nuts contain heart-healthy fats, as well as essential minerals. Nut butter can be spread on apples or stirred into oatmeal and yogurt.
- Baby food and formula: Depending on your baby’s age, he or she may be eating grown-up food in some form, but it's a great idea to stock up on some ready-to-eat food pouches and kid-friendly snacks to supplement meals.
3. Frozen Foods
Frozen fruits and veggies are often just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. But don't overcrowd your freezer with too many items since, unlike canned items, a lot of frozen foods don't last forever and you don't want to be wasteful.
- Vegetables: Buy a variety of frozen veggies to add to pasta, stir-fries or soups.
- Fruit: Frozen fruit, such as mango, peaches, berries and even dragon fruit, are great for smoothies and make easy desserts.
- Burritos: Basic bean burritos are rich in protein and can be dressed up with salsa and cheese.
- Pizza or pizza crust: If you have room in your freezer for these, they’re probably worth the space. While not essential for basic nutritional needs, freshly baked pizza will be a welcome weeknight treat.
- Meat and poultry: Chicken breast, beef and turkey all freeze well. They can be turned into the centerpiece of a meal, or they can be added to soups and chilis to bulk them up.
- Frozen treats: Staying at home for a two-week period can be stressful, so don't refuse from a treat or two. Pick up some ice cream and a box or two of ice pops.