Stocking nutritious, convenient staples in your pantry can save the day -- and your health. These dietitian-approved suggestions for foods to keep on hand will ensure you have healthful options within reach.

Janice Baker, R.D.,CDE

Fill Your Pantry

Keeping your pantry supplied with healthful foods can make mealtime easier and help to shake the takeout habit. Here are 17 diabetic foods to stock.

Tip: Best Foods for Diabetes

No-Salt Seasoning

No-salt seasoning is a good replacement for seasoning salt or regular salt. It's usually made from a mix of dried herbs and spices, and it can be used to flavor many dishes.

Gingersnaps and Vanilla Wafers

Gingersnaps and vanilla wafers are nice but not overindulgent treats. Three or four small cookies make a perfect companion to a cup of tea.

Flavored Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Flavored olive oil can be used for dipping vegetables and crackers or mixing with tuna in place of mayonnaise -- but use a light hand, because the calories and fat add up quickly! Try lemon-infused olive oil (citron oil) drizzled over fish, chicken, vegetables, or salad greens for a burst of flavor without adding salt.

Balsamic vinegar is a mild vinegar that (along with a drizzle of olive oil) can dress up salads and vegetables.


Nuts are a great source of heart-healthy fatty acids. Purchase the unsalted versions (found most often in the baking section of the grocery store). Pair 1 ounce of nuts with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh fruit for a healthful snack. Top cereal with chopped nuts for a protein and fiber boost.

No-Salt-Added Canned Veggies

No-salt-added canned vegetables are high in nutrition and convenience. Add the drained veggies to salads and soups, or mix several cans together for an easy side dish.

Canned Fruit in Its Own Juice

Canned fruit in its own juice can be mixed with fresh seasonal fruit for a more colorful salad. Try hot cereal topped with diced canned peaches or apricots.

High-Fiber Cracker Bread

High-fiber cracker bread is a terrific substitute for regular bread. It keeps you full and helps slow the pace of eating -- and it's lower in sodium than most other breads and crackers.

No-Salt-Added Canned Beans and Low-Sodium Bean Soups

No-salt-added canned beans -- such as white, black, kidney, and garbanzo -- are full of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Rinse the beans before adding to soups or salads or blending into a dip.

Low-sodium bean soups are a great base. Stir in vegetables and lean meats for a semi-homemade meal.

Whole Grain Pasta and Marinara Sauce

Whole grain pasta makes an easy meal when topped with a zesty marinara sauce, lean protein, and vegetables.

Marinara sauce is a robust source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Keep some on hand to make a mini pizza from a whole wheat tortilla, vegetables, and a pinch of cheese. Use it to top chicken or burgers -- it's a vegetable serving!

Canned Tuna and Chicken

Canned tuna and chicken are great protein add-ons for soups, salads, and sandwiches -- no cooking needed!

Oatmeal and Whole Grains

Oatmeal is a high-protein, low-sodium breakfast with lots of fiber. Purchase the old-fashioned variety for the best nutrition and economy.

Whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa, can be served as a side dish, as a salad base, and even as a hot cereal. These grains provide protein and other nutrients that keep hunger at bay and cholesterol under better control.