Spring cleaning isn’t just for your closet!  Make room in your kitchen pantry and restock food items that kickstart healthier habits with nutrition Expert Joanna Li.

Happy Spring!

There’s just something about this season that calls for freshness, newness, and cleanliness. It motivates us to get moving and to revisit those goals from the beginning of the year that we may have put off to the side. Now is the perfect time to refresh, revamp, and tidy up those health goals!

Many people vow to eat healthier and it all begins in the kitchen with a fridge and pantry makeover. Toss out the questionable items and restock with food options that help you get you started with those healthier habits.

Here are a few essential ingredients to always have on hand in your kitchen pantry:

Canned beans

Easily incorporated into chilis, soups, salads and made into hummus, beans make a meal hearty and add protein, iron, and fiber. Just open, rinse, and eat!


These little legumes are a go-to item when you need to add some protein and fiber to your meal. They cook quickly and maintain their texture very well when refrigerated.

Nut butter

Eat it with apple slices as a snack, spread on toast, add to smoothies for a rich nutty flavor, or simply lick it off the spoon. A little goes a long way!


Providing protein, fiber, iron, and B vitamins, quinoa  can be cooked and ready in 15-20 minutes and is one of the easier grains to cook.  Cook a big batch and use it throughout the week!

Low sodium chicken stock

Use it to make sauces, soups, for cooking grains. It provides great flavor and really comes in handy in the winter time when it is soup season.

Nuts and seeds

These are good to have on hand to add on top of salads for some crunch, munch on as a snack, and who knows, maybe you’ll even feel like making nut milk one day.

Canned Tomatoes

This is always a great staple for homemade sauces, soups, and chili!

Whole wheat pasta

Toss it with homemade marinara sauce (made from those canned tomatoes), pesto, or garlic and oil. Voila, dinner is served!

Olive Oil

From roasting to sautéeing to making salad dressings, EVOO is needed for almost everything.

Vegetable oil

Use this oil when you’re baking and cooking at higher temperatures.

Balsamic vinegar

This is great for salad dressings, braising meats, and marinades.


Drizzle onto plain Greek yogurt, use in baking, and in sauces

Vanilla Extract

Add into smoothies for flavor and for your baked goods.


Besides good old salt and pepper, always keep the following on hand:

  • Oregano
  • Bay leaves
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Turmeric

A kitchen stocked with nutritious foods makes its easier to make healthier choices, let these spring cleaning tips get you back to where you want to be!

Make a visit here for more kitchen tips.

Joanna Li, RD is a Registered Dietitian based in NYC, and is currently a community nutritionist helping to improve the health status of low-income pregnant women and their children. For more on Joanna’s love of sharing healthy and delicious meals, visit her at Just My Cup of Jo.