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Dietitian Tips for Stocking Up

By the Nutrimedy Team

glass jars displayed on shelves

We are in the middle of an unprecedented health crisis in our country. With so much uncertainty concerning the COVID-19 virus, it’s an excellent idea to make sure you are adequately prepared for an extended stay at home. I don’t mean stock up on toilet paper, I am talking about having easy access to nutritious and healthy foods in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. This is especially important for those individuals who, due to an underlying disease or chronic condition, have dietary restrictions. We reached out to some of our Nutrimedy dietitians for their thoughts on what to include in a well-stocked household. Here are some items to include on your grocery list:


Shelf stable protein options such as Spam or jerky tend to be high in sodium and preservatives. Here are some healthier options that can also be stored for extended periods of time but don’t compromise your health goals. 

Low Sodium Options 

Great for people managing hypertension, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease. “...strive for less than 500mg of sodium at any given meal time.” -Mindy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC

  • low sodium canned tuna

  • canned salmon 

  • canned sardines

  • eggs 

  • freezable meats such as chicken or fish

  • tofu

Meat Alternatives: Dried or canned beans 

Buying dried beans and cooking them is a great way to control sodium content. If you purchase canned beans, thoroughly rinsing them will remove excess sodium. “...vegetarians should make sure they stock plant-based protein options to ensure that protein is included at each meal.” - Allie Werner, MS, RDN, LDN

  • lentils 

  • split peas 

  • garbanzo beans

  • red kidney beans

  • white beans 

  • black beans

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. Unfortunately, fresh produce is not very shelf stable, making it hard to continue to eat fruits and vegetables if you are spending a few weeks at home. Here are some ideas for frozen/canned/packaged fruits and vegetables to keep you eating a balanced diet while at home.

Canned and/or frozen vegetables

Look for “no added salt” options, especially for those managing hypertension, heart failure, or chronic kidney disease.

  • tomatoes 

  • green beans

  • carrots

  • corn

  • broccoli

Shelf Stable Fruit Cups: 

“Look for “no sugar added” and those packed in water or “own juices”. Although these are not low-carb choices, fruit is still an important part of a healthy diet. Be sure to read the label and count these carbs towards your meal plan.” -Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA

  • applesauce 

  • pears

  • pineapple  

  • mandarin oranges

Frozen Low Potassium* Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh produce can be purchased, washed, chopped, and placed into a freezer bag to keep frozen until use. 

*Consuming foods low in potassium is important for people managing chronic kidney disease or who are on dialysis. 

  • apples 

  • grapes 

  • berries 

  • broccoli 

  • lettuce 

  • carrots 

  • cucumber 

  • onion 

  • peppers 

  • corn 

Whole Grains 

Grains are very shelf stable and a great source of essential minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Here are some whole grain ideas to keep you full, nourished, and prepared during time at home. 

Shelf Stable Grains

Foods high in fiber are important for feeling full and stabilizing blood sugar, especially for those managing diabetes. 

  • brown rice

  • whole grain breads (bread can be frozen and slices can be toasted)

  • whole grain pasta

  • whole oats or oat bran

  • Bulgar

  • farro

  • quinoa 

  • Barley

  • wheat berries

Dairy Substitutes

Dairy products aren’t very shelf stable and those that are, such as sweet and condensed milk or powdered milk are high in sugar, which are not great options for people with diabetes.. For people managing chronic kidney disease or are on dialysis, milk products are high in potassium and phosphorus. Here is a list of milk alternatives that come in shelf stable cartons, that are great options for people with diabetes or kidney disease. 

Shelf Stable Milk Alternatives

  • almond milk

  • cashew milk

  • oat milk

  • rice milk

  • soy milk


Snack items tend to be high in salt and sugar, making healthy snacking a challenge . Here are some ideas to stock up on for healthy snacking (Great choices for people managing hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease). 

Low sodium and low sugar snack options:

  • animal crackers

  • unsalted popcorn 

  • unsalted pretzels 

  • apple sauce 

  • peanut butter

  • dried fruits 

  • unsalted nuts 

  • unsalted nut butters 

  • rice cakes 

  • low sodium crackers 

  • sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Condiments and miscellaneous items to add flavor to your meals

Add zest to your meals with lower sugar and low sodium condiments.

  • mustard 

  • red wine vinegar  

  • white vinegar

  • sriracha or other hot sauce 

  • low sodium soy sauce 

  • lower sugar ketchup

  • Lower sodium broths: Keep on hand for soups, stews and added flavor in chicken and fish dishes.

  • Spices: “Don’t forget to flavor your food! Garlic powder, pepper, paprika, Italian seasoning and other salt-free seasonings.” -Jacqueline Gomes

These suggestions have been provided for informational purposes only. Be sure to follow your specific dietary guidelines recommended by your physician or dietitian. A huge thank you to our contributing dietitians:

Allie Werner, MS, RDN, LDN 

Mindy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC 

Eileen Stellefson Myers, MPH, RDN, LDN, CEDRD, FADA, FAND

Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA 

We hope that these ideas can get you started on having a well stocked pantry during a possible extended stay at home. Stay safe and be well. 

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