What’s in Your Pantry? These 7 Staples Make Healthy Meals So Easy

Last Update: December 22, 2023

If you’re new to healthy cooking, it can be a little intimidating—especially when you might be missing an ingredient and need to improvise. The key is stocking your pantry with nutritious and versatile staples.

A well-stocked pantry is also a great way to keep costs down; when you eat wholesome meals filled with nutrients, you may find that you feel satisfied with smaller portions and don’t get hungry as quickly.

Thrive Market sells a wide range of nourishing foods like whole grains, beans, and nut butters that add heft to meals, in addition to kitchen essentials like cooking oils and spices. If you have a good mix of both on hand, you’ll always well-equipped to throw a healthy meal together. Still not sure where to start? We’ve shared some of our favorite pantry products and a few ways we like to use them.


Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is an ancient grain has spiked in popularity over the last few years for a few reasons. It’s gluten-free, supplies 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving, and contains B vitamins, potassium, iron, zinc, and other essential nutrients. (Check out tips for cooking quinoa here.)

Stock up: Thrive Market Organic Sprouted Quinoa

Quinoa recipes

Quinoa Porridge
Quinoa Granola
Quinoa Breakfast Bar
Quinoa Crunch Bars

Brown rice

Our creative recipes—from a rice-and-fish salad bowl to sweet, satisfying brown-rice porridge—are proof positive that brown rice can be so much more than a boring side dish. And if you’ve ever wondered how brown rice matches up to white varieties nutritionally, read this.

Stock up: Thrive Market Organic Sprouted Brown Rice

Brown rice recipes

Brown Rice Porridge with Roasted Blueberries
Brown Rice and Salmon Salad
Brown Rice Pudding and Caramelized Pineapple

Coconut milk

Rich coconut milk comes from the meat of mature coconuts so it’s a great source of lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride that’s been shown to have antimicrobial properties. Plus, it’s a tasty way to add creamy texture to dishes without the dairy—as we’ve done in our Coconut Creamed Spinach recipe (below).

Stock up: Thrive Market Organic Coconut Milk

Coconut milk recipes

Coconut Creamed Spinach
Thai Red Curry Salmon Bowl With Kelp Noodles
Yellow Curry With Rainbow Vegetables

Almond butter

Nutty and mildly sweet, creamy almond butter is another non-dairy way to add rich texture to smoothies and sauces. This versatile ingredient works well in sweet and savory dishes—and each serving delivers plant-based protein, calcium, vitamin E, and other micronutrients.

Stock up: Thrive Market Creamy Almond Butter

Almond butter recipes

Chocolate Pear Smoothie
Raw Carrot Pad Thai
Blueberry Ginger Smoothie

Canned tuna

Fish is considered an anti-inflammatory food thanks to its essential omega-3 fatty acids. And there’s so much you can do with a can of tuna beyond tuna salad—start with our creative ideas below.

Stock up: Safe Catch Wild Albacore Tuna

Canned tuna recipes

Tuna Hand Rolls
Open-Face Tuna Melts
Mexican Spice Tuna Sandwiches


Lentils are another anti-inflammatory food we love to keep on hand for a few reasons. In addition to being a good source of plant-based protein, they also provide micronutrients like magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, and potassium. Check out this article if you’re not sure how to cook them—then put those skills to work in making some of our favorite lentil recipes.

Stock up: Organic Green Lentils by Thrive

Lentil recipes

Yogi Lentil Bowl
Red Lentil Soup
Brown Rice and Lentil Salad

Garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)

Think garbanzo beans were only put on the earth to make hummus? While we understand where you’re coming from, we also think it’s time to expand your chickpea horizons. Hot Wing-Spiced Chickpeas? Vegan Chickpea Patties? Yeah, there’s a lot this little legume can do—plus, it’s an inexpensive source of protein, fiber, folic acid, and manganese.

Stock up: Thrive Market Organic Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo bean/chickpea recipes

Dairy-Free Tomato Chickpea Soup
Vegan Chickpea Patties
Hot Wing-Spiced Chickpeas
Pumpkin Hummus

Many families without access to cars, supermarkets, or speciality health stores rely on Thrive Market and the Thrive Gives program to help keep their pantries stocked with healthful ingredients. So let’s all thrive together in 2017—stock up your pantry and get cooking!

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

By joining Thrive Market, members not only help their own families—they offer another family the chance to thrive, too. For every paid membership, we donate one to a veteran, teacher, student, or low-income family in need. Learn more.

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Melinda Gross

Melinda writes about health, wellness, and food for the Thrive Market blog. She started her career as a financial journalist in NYC and has written for Where Magazine, Worth, Forbes, and When she's not reading or writing, she enjoys working out, sketching, and playing with her daughter and mini-dachshund, Goliath.

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