11 Healthy Meal Prep Staples You Can Order Online
Image Recipe: Chickpea & Quinoa Buddha Bowl
Whether you go all-out with your weekly meal prep or just prefer to keep ingredients on hand for easy cooking throughout the week, it goes without saying that having a pantry stocked with healthy staples is a must. That said, lugging heavy bags of canned goods, dried grains and other bulk items home from the grocery store every week is a pain. Luckily, online grocery retailers make it possible to have things delivered right to your door. This can be tricky when it comes to perishables, especially if you're away from home most of the day and during delivery time, but grocery delivery is the perfect way to keep your pantry stocked without breaking your back on the way home from the store.
We asked registered dietitians to share the healthy meal prep staples that they always stock in their pantries. All of the staples below are available online, and super versatile for any kind of meal prep.
"My tried-and-true, easy-to-prep pantry staple is a bag of dried lentils," says Kendra Tolbert MS, RDN. "They cook so much faster than dried beans, and are just as delicious and healthful." You can cook a big batch in an Instant Pot in almost no time, or just do them on the stovetop and reheat servings throughout the week. Get them here.
For a no-cook protein option that can add flavor to a salad, grain bowl, or sandwich, try canned sardines. "They're sustainable, low in mercury and an easy way to add protein and omega-3s to a meal," Tolber says. You can find them sold in olive oil or water, both of which are healthy choices. Get them here.
"Stock up on Berbere seasoning," recommends Tolbert. The spice blend is popular in Ethiopian cuisine and deserves a spot in every spice cabinet. "It's spicy, earthy and versatile as heck. You can put it in and on almost everything: chicken, eggs, lentils, vegetables, popcorn. Everything!" Get it here.
"Healthy grains and rice like barley, black rice and quinoa can be cooked in a large batch at the beginning of the week and incorporated as a fiber-rich side to any dish," says Ha Nguyen, RD, LDN. Quinoa is especially great in salads because it holds a little bit of crunch and won't get soggy once you've added some dresing. Get it here.
Nguyen recommends black rice, which is a fiber-packed whole grain that cooks just like brown rice. Make a batch in your rice cooker over the weekend, then reheat it for lunches and dinners alongside a pile of veggies and some protein. Get it here.
6. Goya Barley
Barley is another of Nguyen's favorites, because it's dense and holds well in the fridge for a few days. Make sure you get the kind with the hull still intact, not pearled barley which actually isn't a whole grain. Get it here.
"Whole grains, like farro, can be prepared in advance and enjoyed throughout the week in both cool and hot dishes," says Jackie Newgent, RDN. "They're ideal as the star ingredient of hearty grain-based salads or bowls." One thing to note is that farro isn't a gluten-free grain, so anyone with celiac disease will need to avoid it.
"My pantry is filled with all kinds of canned tomato products, including canned tomato sauce, canned diced tomatoes and canned tomato paste," Nguyen says. "I buy them when they're on sale, and stock up because they're so versatile and I know I'll use them!" You can use diced tomatoes for pasta sauce, chili or stew—all of which are easy to make in bulk for meal prep. Get them here.
"Lower-sodium vegetable, chicken or beef broth are great meal prep staples because they can be used to make large batches of soups and stews," Nguyen says. "Additionally, instead of using water to cook grains or rice, you can use broth. This adds a lot of flavor for minimal calories." Get it here.
"Canned beans, like garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), are ready to use as-is," Newgent says. "They can simply be stirred into dishes, like stews, or sprinkled onto salads without cooking, and provide a nourishing plant-based protein source." Chickpeas can also be blended into snack-ready hummus in just a few minutes! Get them here.
"Shelled pistachios, like Wonderful Pistachios No Shells, offer a delightfully quick, convenient, better-for-you way to meal prep or snack, complete with a satisfying crunch, creamy texture and rich flavor," Newgent says. "They're so easy to sprinkle onto dishes, like grain bowls, roasted veggies and pilafs, to punch up protein and fiber with their six grams of plant-based protein and three grams of fiber a serving." Get them here.