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Smart Substitutions: 5 'Staples' to Trade Out of Your Pantry

Fitday Editor

Any stop to the grocery store is made quicker and easier when you just have a few 'staples' to pick up. There are many things we like to keep on hand for snacks, quick dinners, and emergencies like power outages. But are these foods and ingredients - many of them old familiar favorites - hindering your health goals? Consider the 5 common staples below and their healthy alternatives the next time you make a grocery run.

Buy This

Not That


White Rice

Quinoa cooks up just like rice but has greater nutritional value. Half a cup (uncooked) provides about 300 calories, 11g protein, 5g fiber, and contains many minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Brown rice, wild rice, amaranth, and oats are other fantastic whole grains to have in your pantry.


Refined from whole grain brown rice, white rice is a nutrient-poor food. The fiber and germ, both beneficial, have been removed. You get about 350 calories in a half cup (uncooked) and only about half of the protein and fiber of quinoa. Minerals are lacking too - other than iron, which is artificially added.

Bean Soups

Cream Soups

Satisfying and full of protein and fiber, beans are your best choices for soups. Try black bean, split pea, and lentil varieties, and any added veggies are good, too. Look for low-sodium options.

Avoid "cream of" soups like mushroom, celery, etc. along with white clam chowders. High in calories, low in fiber, and full of unhealthy fats, these should not be eaten regularly.


Vegetable Oil

Use applesauce in your favorite baked good recipes as a fat replacement. A half cup serving has only 50 calories. It's also great as an oatmeal topping or just eaten as a snack. Choose applesauce that has no sugar added.


A highly refined food that contains 120 per tablespoon, vegetable oil has no place in a healthy pantry. Use a half cup in a brownie recipe, and that's almost 1000 fat calories!

Baked Corn Chips

Tortilla Chips

Lower in calories and made without fat, baked corn chips will satisfy your craving for something salty and crunchy. One cup has less than 2g fat.

Most tortilla chips are fried in oil. This adds a lot of unnecessary fat and calories to an otherwise decent snack made from corn. One cup has 7.5g fat.

Dried Fruit


This is how we were meant to tame our sweet cravings - with nature's candy. Raisins, apricots, cranberries, dates, prunes, and pineapple are all filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber along with their sweetness. Be careful not to eat too many as they are calorically dense.


Gummy candies and jelly beans are the types of sweets that are best to not bring into your pantry. Empty calories from white sugar that provide no nutrients can cause unbalanced energy levels, leave you craving more food, and may contribute to weight gain and disease.

Corinne Goff is a Registered Dietitian who is absolutely passionate about food, health, and nutrition. Corinne has a BA in Psychology from Salve Regina University and a BS in Nutrition from the University of Rhode Island. As a nutritionist, her objective is to help people reach their health goals by offering a personalized holistic approach to wellness that incorporates natural foods and lifestyle changes. She works together with her clients to develop daily improvements that they feel comfortable with and that are realistic. She believes that the focus on wholesome, nutrient-rich, real food, is the greatest possible way to become healthier, have more energy, decrease chances of chronic disease, and feel your best. For more information, please visit her website at RI Nutrition

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