An organized pantry is one important step towards making family mealtimes less stressful.

Start your family mealtimes planning by making a list of the ingredients and foods your family often eats. When you’re hastily charging down the aisle things are sometimes forgotten.

Next, what items on your list will store well for a period of time? Buy twice as many of these items than you would usually used each week. Especially when a particular item is on sale.

Here are five healthy essentials you should always have on hand:

  1. Extra virgin olive oil adds flavour to meals, aids in digestion, and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It’s great for the whole family. This oil, part of the Mediterranean diet, is a traditional fat that has been a dietary staple for some of the world’s healthiest populations. Studies show that the fatty acids and antioxidants in it have some powerful health benefits.
  2. Quick-cooking grains (quinoa, couscous, millet) are quick and easy to Grains provide a healthy boost of vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Grains are also rich in carbohydrates—the body’s main fuel supply—great for toddlers and children on the go.
  1. Whole grain pastas and rice are a fibre-rich option to serve your entire family. They are much better for you than refined pastas and rice.
  1. Canned tomatoes are ideal to keep on hand to make a simple tomato sauce or pasta sauce. For a bit of fun, here are 36 ways to use canned tomatoes tonight.
  1. Dried fruits(and nuts for babies twelve months and older) are a chewy, healthy snack. They are an excellent substitute for refined sugar for when the kids or dad screams out to give in to their sweet tooth craving.

Plan your next shopping trip and make sure you have these five essentials on your list.

Now I want to hear from you. What else is on your essential shopping list? Let me know in the comments below!