5 Foods For A Healthy Pantry

August 31, 2011

I have been voraciously reading the comments about a chef who lived on a foodstamp budget, and am appalled at the lack of human decency that trolls..err some of the people commenting have. For me, the takeaway is the many people feel a sense of despair about their location and trying to afford real food.

I want to offer a plan of action.

This plan is a way to start building a pantry of healthy food. It won't happen all at once, but it gets you off to a good start, where you will be able to find and prepare simple, wholesome foods. When  you have nutrition coursing through your body, you will have the energy to take the next step..and the next. Although you might not have more than a few dollars a week to devote to a food budget, there is a way to make it work. Let's get started. 

Build A Pantry With $5.00

If you have a 5 dollar bill for food, buy a bag of rice and a bag of dried beans. The two of these things cooked together, make a complete protein that will fill you up and satisfy your body. Add salt/pepper/ketchup/soy sauce/hot sauce, any condiment you have. 

Do you have a dollar and some change left over? Buy some plain flour. You may only get a small bag, but buy it and place it in your pantry.

Still have some change? Buy some margarine. It is not your final destination, you will eventually have butter and oils in the pantry, but a small tub of margarine (some convenience stores sell by the stick), will add satisfying flavor to your food. 

So with your $5.00, buy rice, beans, flour and margarine. Sound impossible? Look for the smallest size package you can find. If nothing else, the rice and beans first.

Next, let's look at what to do if you don't have a full kitchen (in some cases, NO kitchen at all). How do you cook?

Image Sources:



Jody Warnke's picture

Remember, you can buy many pantry items CHEAP at the Dollar Store. Chili, spaghetti sauce, rice and pasta, pickles and condiments, too. You'll be amazed at the money you can save.

Julez's picture

Yeah you can save money there, but the goal is nutrition. Those inexpensive ready to eat items are loaded with the toxic chemicals people are trying to avoid like hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and high fructose corn syrup along with the other five preservatives of varying toxicity to your body.

Amy Jeanroy's picture

Ah! You stole my idea for today's blog :-) 

You are right! I love dollar stores for quite a bit of pantry items. The items are sold in much smaller quantities, making them affordable. 

You can find canned tomatoes, seasonings, salt, noodles, dried beans, rice, tuna or other fish..the list goes on. 

Of course, there is the obligatory junk there too, but definitely worth a look if you can get to one. 





Richard Rehwinkel's picture

with flour, yeast and water you always have bread actually you don't need the yeast there are many wild yeasts that you can collect to start a sourdough

Amy Jeanroy's picture

Absolutely true! Sourdough starter is fabulous. It might be too much to manage if one doesnt have a place to keep it, or a place to do that sort of cooking. 

Thanks for your response, Richard.



Anonymous's picture

Margarine is not healthy.

Amy Jeanroy's picture

Absolutely right. Margarine is not healthy. It is included in this week's $5.00 grocery list for two reasons: 

1. It is very inexpensive(I do know the irony in that) so it can be added to the tiny budget, to improve the flavor of the most basic dish.

2. Fats and oils offer a measure of satisfaction when eaten. By adding a pat of margarine to rice and beans, it makes the dish more palatable, especially since it is going to be eaten many times in a row. 

3. As time passes and the pantry items build, buying a healthy fat like lard or butter or olive oil can be fit into the budget. 


So, you are totally right, margarine is not good for you. It is however, practical and found in most convenience stores - often by the stick. When  you are just starting out filling a pantry, it is a give and take. Using the money to buy a bag of rice AND a bag of beans for the cost of a pound of butter, makes sense. 

Thank you so much for posting. I should have clarified this in the original blog.