The Great Pantry Makeover
No. 6 » Carton-packed or jar tomatoes
While nobody can deny how great they taste when they’re fresh off the vine, carton-packed or jar tomatoes are the healthier pick because lycopene—a powerful antioxidant thought to protect against cancer and have cardiovascular benefits—is more abundant for your body to absorb when tomatoes are cooked. Note: The cans that most tomatoes are sold in contain bisphenol A (BPA)—even the organic ones. If you’re concerned, try brands that use jars or cartons.
Storage tip: Store whatever you don’t use in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for three to five days.
No. 7 » Garlic and onions
These members of the allium family are loaded with selenium, zinc and allicin, a powerful phytonutrient with anticancer and anti-bacterial properties. Some studies confirm garlic’s long-fabled ability to battle the common cold, says Bellisfield.
Storage tip: Keep onions in a cool, dark place for up to four weeks after buying, but don’t refrigerate; they will soften and mold. Store whole garlic cloves the same way for five to eight months. (Do refrigerate sliced onions and garlic.)
No. 8 » Nuts and seeds
Just one little handful of this perfect snack provides an ideal mix of carbs, monounsaturated fat, fiber and protein. What’s more, walnuts and flaxseeds (best used ground) are especially good for your heart because of the omega-3 fatty acids they contain. Almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pumpkin and sunflower seeds can all be tossed into salads or entrées.
Storage tip: Keep in the pantry if you’re going to eat them within a month, but they’ll stay freshest (and keep for up to three months) if you store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
No. 9 » Dried fruits
Dried fruits such as apricots, cranberries, dates and raisins are concentrated versions of all the fiber and vitamins in regular fruit. “But they also have high concentrations of sugar, so it’s best to eat them in small portions, and with nuts or whole grains so you’re getting additional fiber and protein to help maintain steady blood sugar,” says Bellisfield.
Storage tip: Transfer dried fruits from plastic bags to airtight glass containers and store in the refrigerator, where they will last up to six months.
No. 10 » Homemade breadcrumbs and croutons
For healthier breadcrumbs, let a loaf of whole-grain bread become stale and then put it in a food processor and pulse to desired consistency. For croutons, cut a loaf of stale wholegrain bread into cubes, toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and brown in an oven or toaster oven.
Storage tip: Keep in an airtight container. Breadcrumbs will last about a month; croutons can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to six months.