10 Must-Have Pantry Staples


Canned Beans/Lentils

Protein-packed beans and lentils are an economical and convenient vegetarian alternative to meat, poultry and seafood. Plus, they’re filled with fiber, which helps maintain digestive health, reduces cholesterol levels, and keeps blood sugars under control, among other benefits. 

Load up when they go on sale, as canned beans last for up to two years. Opt for low sodium whenever possible and rinse with cold before using to remove excess salt from the canning liquids. 

Substitute beans for ground meat in chili, tacos, soups, or burgers or add them to cold salads. Pureed beans can even be used as a low-fat alternative to butter or oil in baked goods, as in this cupcake recipeUnlike dried beans, lentils don’t require pre-soaking and they cook up quickly. Simmer lentils with diced tomatoes and seasonings for a hearty side dish, or add dry lentils to soups or stew to increase protein without relying on expensive meats.