During the spring and summer, quick, easy, and fueling meals that call for little kitchen time or maybe even no cooking at all are the name of the game. A well-stocked pantry is the best way to ensure you’ll have everything you need to get such low-effort meals onto the table without an extra trip to the supermarket. To get started, shop within these 5 essential ingredient categories to transform your pantry and become a pro at pulling together nutritious meals in a snap!


Beans offer a no-cook way to pump up the plant-based protein and fiber of a variety of dishes. They are also highly affordable, costing around $1.00 or less per pound. Across the board from black beans to kidneys, garbanzo beans to pintos, all beans are also nutritionally similar so you can’t go wrong when making your selection at the shelf.

With soup and stew season behind us, incorporate beans into chilled soups, salads, and wraps to add texture, flavor, and nutrition.

Or toss them with a simple vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil to spoon over grilled chicken, fish, or portabella mushroom caps or eat on its own as a side dish.

Grocery list:
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Cannellini beans
Black beans
Pinto beans
Light and dark kidney beans


You can’t beat the flavor that vine-ripened canned tomatoes bring to everyday meals.  They’re also an abundant source of potassium and supply more of the antioxidant lycopene than their fresh counterparts. Save even more time, by opting for tomatoes that already have the seasonings or onions, garlic, jalapeño peppers, etc. added in. It doesn’t get any easier than that!  Such varieties shine in recipes and or on their own atop pasta or pizza or to make gazpacho (chilled soup), salsa, or bruschetta.

Grocery list:
Petite diced tomatoes
Petite diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
Petite diced tomatoes with chilies
Diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
Crushed tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes with Italian seasoning
Pizza sauce

Quick-Cooking Grains

When all else fails, quick-cooking grains like brown rice, quinoa, farro, or pasta come to your dinner rescue. Once any of these grains are cooked, simply add flavorful herbs and spices, a simple sauce, vegetables, and plant-based or lean protein to complete the meal. To shake it up, try a “build your own” pasta or grain bowl bar with all the fixings and let everyone in the family do their thing.

Grocery list:
Brown rice
Jasmine rice
Whole-wheat pasta


Oil is a core ingredient in homemade vinaigrette, marinades, sautés, stir fry, and many more everyday kitchen applications. Using liquid oil as a primary source of fat in the diet is also shown to be health-protective due to its unsaturated fat content and overall nutrient profile.

To meet all your recipe needs, stock an assortment of oils with varying smoke points. The smoke point of oil is the temperature that it starts to burn, which can negatively affect the flavor of your finished dish. Keep extra virgin olive and unrefined sesame oils on hand for recipes that don’t require cooking, to drizzle over a dish or for dipping; pure olive oil for use in cooking up to 400°F and extra light olive oil or grapeseed oil for higher heat cooking and baking.

Grocery list:
Extra virgin olive oil
Sesame oil
Pure olive oil or Canola oil
Extra light olive oil or Grapeseed oil


Many of us don’t reach the minimum seafood recommendation of 2 servings per week and miss out on nutrients such as omega-3s, high-quality protein, B-vitamins, selenium, and iron. Seafood’s health benefits are many including lowering the risk for heart disease or sudden cardiac death.

What often gets in the way of seafood intake is a lack of confidence with selecting, handling, seasoning, and cooking it. There’s no guesswork involved when using canned seafood. Some varieties are also pre-flavored, so incorporating them into a simple meal is virtually foolproof. Or for a unique and on-trend idea, use canned seafood to build an attractive dinner board with other kitchen staples. You may have nearly all of these ingredients on hand!

Grocery list:
Canned salmon with bones
Skinless/boneless salmon
Chunk tuna
Solid albacore tuna
Yellowfin tuna in olive oil


Canned fruit doesn’t get any easier to use because it’s ready to enjoy with no washing, slicing, or dicing. Since it’s picked at its peak of ripeness, then packed to preserve flavor, texture, and nutrition, all varieties of canned fruit from peaches and pears to pineapples, cherries, mandarin oranges and more are an absolute pantry must-have. Try your favorite canned fruit in smoothies, yogurt parfaits, ice cream sundaes, fruit crisps, mocktails—even cocktails! Or make a super-simple, non-dairy sorbet by freezing canned fruit, then blending until smooth.

Grocery list:
Sliced peaches
Peach halves
Diced pineapple
Crushed pineapple
Mandarin oranges
Fruit cocktail
Sliced pears
Pear halves
Pitted red tart cherries
Pitted dark sweet cherries


From the pantry to your dinner table recipe inspiration!


Mediterranean Board

Mediterranean Board

Dinner boards are the perfect no-fuss solution for busy nights or when you just don’t feel like cooking. Here are specific pantry staples that can be assembled on a large cutting, board, platter or tray in minutes. Include your favorite fresh ingredients like cheese, meats or fruits/veggies to round it out.

  • Kalamata olives
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning (to spoon onto crackers)
  • Premium tuna or salmon
  • Whole grain seeded crackers
  • Roasted nuts
  • Dried apricots, canned peaches, or pears
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Veggie hummus (recipe below!)

Veggie Hummus Trio

Veggie Dip Trio is courtesy of DelMonte Foods

Veggie Dip Trio is courtesy of DelMonte Foods

Serves 8
Prep time 10 min.


Carrot Ginger Hummus

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Del Monte® Sliced Carrots, well-drained
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz) classic hummus (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • Garnish: Cilantro leaves

Spicy Beet Hummus

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Del Monte® Sliced Beets, well-drained
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz) classic hummus (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne or 1/2 tsp. chipotle pepper powder
  • Garnish: pistachios

Minty Pea Hummus

  • 1 can (15 oz) Del Monte® Sweet Peas, well-drained
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz) classic hummus (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
  • Garnish: feta cheese crumbles


  1. For each dip, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
  2. Serve with grilled sliced baguette, pita chips, or sliced cucumber and carrots.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Filled with juicy shredded chicken, black beans, sweet corn, and healthy veggies, this Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe is utterly irresistible and my all-time favorite soup recipe!




Endless Summer Fruit Daiquiri

Enjoy this refreshing summer daiquiri courtesy of Pacific Coast Producers

Endless Summer-Fruit Daiquiri Pacific Coast Producers


Beth Stark RDN, LDN


By Beth Stark, RDN, LDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Nutrition Consultant, writer, & recipe developer in Harrisburg, PA.

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