Stocking your Paleo pantry does not need to be difficult or complicated. A Paleo kitchen needs to be fully stocked with a large array of herbs, spices, fats, olive oil, and vinegar and probably enough coconut milk to last you through the winter. In order to make your Paleo meals easy to prepare and delicious to eat it always helps to stock up on a few essentials along with a few more unusual items.
When buying foods in packages, jars and cans it is absolutely critical to read labels and with the assumption that any packaged food is guilty until proven innocent. That having been said, there are some great gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo-friendly foods that form staples to your Paleo pantry.
Jars & Cans
Canned or jarred tomatoes/passata- use these in stews, soups and sauces. Try to buy organic if possible as tomatoes are at the top of the dirty dozen when it comes to pesticides. Avoid added sugar.
Canned sardines, salmon and other seafood – high in beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids and protein, these are handy to add to your breakfast or lunch box or to have as a snack. Choose fish canned in brine, water or olive oil.
Gherkins, olives and capers – add crunch and flavour to salads and deli meat rolls. Read the labels and check ingredients.
Sun-dried tomatoes – great in omelettes, salads and sauces. Look for dried or canned sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil. Avoid soybean or sunflower/canola oil.
Apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar – use in salad dressings or to add to dishes for extra acidities.
Coconut milk or cream – use it in soups, curries, smoothies, baking and mousses. Look for canned coconut milk with at least 60% coconut.
Coconut aminos – the perfect soy sauce replacement. It can be slightly sweeter than soy sauce although saltier versions are available too. Use in stir-fries, stews, dressings and to marinate chicken and meat. You can find coconut aminos in health foods stores and online.
Coconut water – use instead of sports drinks or as an electrolyte and mineral boost.
Fish sauce – look for a naturally fermented, sugar-free brand and use to add saltiness and umami flavour to stews and soups, in stir-fries, Asian salad dressings and sauces and marinades.
Hot sauce – a crowd favorite, spice up your dishes with a bit of chilli.
Hot English, Dijon or Wholegrain Mustard - use for marinades, rubs, dressings, sauces and as a condiment with meat or fish. Be sure to read labels and check ingredients
Sweeteners -use in small amounts as it’s still technically sugar and the brain still registers sweetness.
Raw honey is our preferred sweetener because it is full of enzymes and antioxidants and has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Maple syrup, coconut syrup and coconut sugar are other Paleo friendly sweeteners. Natural stevia powder and monkfruit extract are also good alternatives to processed sugar,
Tahini – sesame seed paste with a distinct smoky flavour. Even small amounts add the desired flavour to salad dressings, dips and sauces.
Almond meal – use for many of your Paleo baking needs. Nut flours are best be kept in the fridge.
Coconut flour – use in baking and to make pancakes. Coconut flour is very dense and requires more moisture and fat than almond flour and you need to use a lot less to avoid dry, unpalatable baked goods.
Tapioca flour – a very versatile, starchy flour that is high in carbohydrates for those watching their intake. A small amount can go a long way in your baking and cooking. Use in combination with almond meal or coconut flour. It can also be used to thicken sauces. Arrowroot powder/flour is very similar and can be used interchangeable for most applications.
Gluten-free baking powder – Add a little to baked goods to help them rise and fluff up.
Nuts –macadamia nuts, have the healthiest Omega-6/3 profile but can also be the priciest option. Keep some raw almonds, hazelnuts and brazil nuts (high in selenium) on hand for use as part of a meal, as a crunchy topping or an easy on-the-go snack. Cashews are great for making paleo cheese and creamy raw desserts. It is recommended to pre-soak your nuts for 4-6 hours to remove phytic acid and to activate the enzymes, which makes these nuts easier to digest. After soaking, dehydrate in the oven at very low temperature for 2-3 hours, until crunchy again. Store in the fridge for longer shelf life.
Nut butters - almond butter always a staple but many others are available – try hazelnut or cashew butter for a different flavor. Use as a cooking ingredient for soups and stews, to make dips and sauces or for baking and smoothies. Nut butters are also delicious with fruit as a healthy snack
Seeds –sesame seeds are high in calcium and pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin E. Use in similarly to nuts.
Unsweetened coconut flakes - eaten on their own as a snack or sprinkled into and on top of dishes, coconut flakes add flavor and texture to sweet or savory recipes. They are delicious simply dry roasted and seasoned with some warm spices or savory herbs.
Raw cacao powder – rich in anti-oxidants, this is great to have on hand to whip up a quick hot chocolate or use in baking and shakes or to make Paleo chocolate. Regular cacao powder will also work – look for a brand that is not alkalized or Dutch process.
Dark chocolate – look for a good quality, dairy free or raw variety of dark chocolate with over 85% cacao content. Read ingredients carefully and avoid those with lecithin and additives. Can be eaten alone or as part a decadent treat recipe.
Vanilla extract – use in desserts and baking, including pancakes. Vanilla can be used in some savoury dishes too.
Gelatin - a little bit of gelatin will make a sauce velvety-smooth. It will also allow you to make a Paleo friendly version of a pudding or gelled treat or gummies for those occasions you may want them. Do you best to source gelatin from pastured animals to get the true nutritional benefits.
Tea and coffee – Green tea and coffee for mornings, chamomile and mint for afternoons. If possible, buy freshly roasted coffee beans and grind them yourself for the best and freshest flavour.
Beef jerky – great as a snack, especially with some nuts. Look for grass-fed beef jerky or biltong if possible and check ingredients carefully.
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Fats & Oils
Coconut oil – an incredibly versatile oil. You can cook with it (heat stable), eat it, drink it and even rub it on your skin. For cooking, organic unrefined coconut oil is your best choice. It lends a somewhat exotic flavor to dishes and can be used at relatively high temperatures without oxidizing (remaining good for you even when used at higher heat). It is a saturated fat and solid at cooler temperatures, making it a good substitute good stand in for butter in baked goods.
Extra-virgin olive oil – use for low to medium heat cooking (below 180 °C/355 °F) and for cold uses like in salads, dips and as a finishing drizzle for roasted vegetables or meats. Try our favorite brand here
Ghee – use for all cooking needs, including baking. It is heat stable and has a long shelf life. Ghee is made up of mostly fat with hardly any lactose or casein left and is usually safe for those with dairy sensitivities.
Macadamia oil – great, neutral-tasting oil for cooking which has a much higher smoking point in comparison to olive oil. This is one of our favorite oils for making homemade mayonnaise.
Sesame oil – Add a teaspoon to complete a stir-fry or pan-Asian curry as well as make Asian salad dressings. It can also be used in dips and smoothies, it has a lovely, smoky, nutty flavour.
Grab our fat guide for more on Paleo fats and how to use them
Ensuring you are well stocked with these Paleo staples along with your favorite pastured meats, well-sourced fats and seasonal vegetables will ensure that creating a variety of Paleo meals is easy, and delicious.
Michal Ofer is a wellness and digestion expert and nutrition coach. She is focused on assisting clients to take control of their health and happiness through the sustainable food and lifestyle choices that best support them. Through strengthening the body from the inside out, her clients are able to reach new heights of health, happiness and wellness. Michal obtained her Professional Training and Certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She has a further studied through the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Stanford University and is a Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach. Michal has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences and a Master Life Coach Certification. For further information and to connect with Michal visit her website at www.michalofer.com