Stocking your pantry with all new gluten-free, soy-free, and healthy ingredients may seem like a daunting task at first. But believe me when I tell you, it’s going to make your life a lot easier in the long run.
How many times have you tried to make a Paleo recipe only to find that you don’t have arrowroot flour or coconut aminos?
It used to happen to me all the time. You know what I used to do? Replace the missing ingredient with something unhealthy. And at that point I’d think, well, I might as well sneak in some other unhealthy things, since this dish is obviously not going to be 100% Paleo…
Having an improperly stocked pantry is just another excuse to sabotage your healthy lifestyle.
You’re more likely to slack off on your cooking or to snack on junk when that’s all you have in your pantry.
So the best solution I found is to throw away anything that’s not Paleo (yup, even if someone else in your house still uses it – throw it out. They’ll buy more if they need to. But chances are, they will end up eating your healthy food, and let’s be honest – that’s a good thing).
Now restock that pantry with healthy, wholesome, Paleo ingredients. You will be able to cook your favorite recipes without any hiccups and it’s going to make your life a lot easier, I promise!
Below is a list of my favorite Paleo pantry items. I use every single one of these myself, and when I try more stuff that I like, I will be updating this list. However, I think I’ve got all the basics down, so this is a great starting point for those of you looking for pantry-inspiration.
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These ingredients are a must-have for anything you’d normally use flour in. Think: baked goods, breading, thickening, and binding. No single Paleo flour really compares to wheat flour, so you have to keep that in mind when you’re cooking as sometimes you’ll need to mix more than one flour together to get the result you need.
For most recipes, almond flour is my favorite. It’s healthy, it doesn’t really taste like anything, and it’s works well for “breading” and binding foods.
However, in the rare instances when I’m baking something like paleo bread or another “airy” food, I like to add coconut flour or arrowroot powder. They’re a little less dense than almond, and their texture is more akin to wheat flour. Arrowroot flour is best for thickening sauces, since the other two come out a bit too “grainy” when added to liquid.
Sugars should barely be consumed, especially if they’re added sugars (as in, not naturally present in the food you’re eating). But of course, once in a while, you need to add some sweetness to your meal. What’s the best way to do it?
My favorite is honey. Make sure to get the honey with minimal processing. Sometimes I get lucky and find some raw honey at the farmers market that hasn’t even been heated or filtered (you can tell because it’s opaque). That’s the best kind of honey.
Honey is a great sweetener because it comes with so much more than just sugar! Honey is packed full of vitamins and minerals that are essential for our health. It’s believed to prevent cancer and treat bacterial illnesses. Basically, honey is like a sweet shot of medicine.
If you need something more akin to regular granulated sugar, coconut sugar works well too. It’s very similar to brown sugar in appearance and flavor. Coconut sugar is made from coconut sap, and contains a lot of important vitamins as well. It has a very low glycemic index so some people might prefer it for health reasons.
Maple syrup is also a great way to sweeten your dishes. I prefer to use it on meats when I need to add just a touch of sweetness. Be careful when buying it though – some supermarkets sell “maple syrup” that is made entirely of artificially colored high fructose corn syrup!
I prefer to make most sauces myself from scratch – that way I know all the ingredients and where they came from. But not everything can be reasonably made at home. Here are the sauces I recommend buying for your pantry to make the most of your cooking.
Coconut aminos is a fantastic Paleo ingredient that you’ll definitely be using a lot of! It’s the perfect replacement for soy sauce. It smells, tastes, and behaves just like soy sauce but without the soy.
Fish sauce is another staple that you can’t really re-create on your own at home, but it provides so much flavor to your recipes, I really think you should have it. Fish sauce is made using fermented fish (anchovies usually) and contains probiotics. This one is made using traditional chemical-free fermentation methods
And of course, Primal Kitchen Mayo is a must in my pantry! This is the only mayonnaise I can find that is completely Paleo-friendly. It contains no dairy, soy, canola, gluten, sugar, or any of the other questionable ingredients that lurk in regular mayo. It’s made with a few ingredients that you could easily recreate at home (but who has time for that): avocado oil, eggs, vinegar, and salt.
Get rid of that canola and “vegetable” oils as fast as you can. They are just terrible for your health and many of them can’t even be heated up safely, let alone used for cooking and frying food. The best oils are the ones that provide you with healthy fats while being safe to cook on at high temperatures. Of course, they should taste good too.
Coconut oil is the safest for high-temperature cooking, meaning it doesn’t go rancid and release free radicals even in the highest temperatures. It contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently from other types of saturated fats. They are known to have medicinal effects on Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders and are considered to be the “best” types of saturated fat. The lauric acid in coconut oil is also antibacterial, so just like honey it has lots of medicinal properties.
I always recommend the organic and unrefined coconut oils, because they retain the most of the health benefits. But beware, unrefined coconut oil tastes and smells of coconuts! If you can’t handle that, you can always get the refined type – it has no flavor and is still pretty good for you.
Avocado and macadamia oils are also both great oils for cooking (but on the pricier side). While avocado oil is perfect for meals in need of a subtle flavor, macadamia oil adds a great nutty and slightly buttery taste to any home cooked dish. Both can be heated to high temperatures without any concerns over oxidation. Macadamia nut oil is also high in omega-3s.
Ghee is a favorite in the Paleo crowd, because despite being a dairy product, it is Whole30 approved. Ghee is clarified butter with all the dairy-related proteins removed. Which means it doesn’t cause inflammation like regular dairy. And tastes deliciously nutty. Basically, ghee is an exception that the majority of the Paleo crowd has adopted for its nutritious value and flavor.
And finally, everyone’s favorite – olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has a great taste and a good amount of antioxidants. It’s not recommended for cooking on high temperatures, although it’s generally resistant to oxidation (so if you have to – go for it!) There isn’t much else to say – no pantry is complete without olive oil.
The biggest meal planning mistake I’ve made was not thinking about the snacks. You always forget snacks when you’re planning meals for the week. It’s not just me, right?
When you forget to buy healthy snacking items, you end up making dumb decisions and stuffing your face with Pringles. That’s just what happens around here.
So now, I always make sure to have some good Paleo snacks and quick meals in my pantry, so I can easily whip something up when hunger randomly strikes.
Dried fruits, berries and nuts are a great snack to have on hand. The nuts can also be used in a bunch of different recipes. I get the plain ones, so I can do whatever I want to them (you can always salt/roast them yourself – they taste much better when you do it at home!).
Dried fruits and berries should be consumed in moderation since they are usually high in sugar, but I always have some around. They store well and can also be used in different recipes or on their own.
Nut butters are a great ingredient to have in your pantry as well. They can be used as an alternative to peanut butter. Aside from being a tasty spread, they can also be added to sauces and baking recipes for extra flavor and texture. I like to spread some almond butter on apple or banana slices for an occasional treat.
Protein bars, such as EPIC Bars are just good to have on hand. Don’t make them an everyday meal, but there will come a time when you don’t have the time/ability/patience to cook and really need something filling and healthy. Also great for road trips, breakfasts-on-the-go, etc. These bars are made with grass-fed meats (kind of like jerky) and other additions like nuts, fruits and berries.
Kelp noodles are fantastic. They’re Paleo-approved, super-quick-to-make, full-of-vitmains noodles that remind me of rice noodles. They are made out of a seaweed and contain most of the minerals found in the ocean, namely calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, and iodine, among nearly 70 others. They take about 3 minutes to cook, and go especially well with Asian-style cuisine.
Apple Cider Vinegar, the kind that isn’t pasteurized and still contains the “mother” is incredibly useful. You can cook with it, use it as a preservative, use it for cleaning or beauty products – there are literally hundreds of uses for apple cider vinegar! Try to get the murky kind – it still contains live beneficial bacteria, proteins and enzymes that are healthy for you both inside and out.
Your pantry also happens to be a great place to set up your kombucha brewing station! I can’t even begin to describe all the benefits of kombucha… basically, it’s incredibly healthy for your immune system and just happens to taste like delicious soda-tea.
It’s very expensive if you buy it at the store, but if you can get your hands on the SCOBY (the Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast that ferments the beverage) – you can start making it yourself for free… forever. Definitely add that to your pantry if you regularly spend money on overpriced kombucha bottles!