Best shelf-stable foods: Here’s what you need to stock your pantry – Business Insider

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  • Having shelf-stable food stocked in your pantry is vital for anyone preparing for or facing an extended period of quarantine.
  • Foods such as rice, beans, soups, and canned meat offer excellent shelf life and provide plenty of the vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, and nutrition you need to support your health. 
  • We spoke to the New York City-based nutritionists, Samantha Cassetty and Erika Villalobos-Morsink, for their input on the best shelf-stable foods to stock up on.

In the wake of the spread of the novel coronavirus, people around the world are dealing with the possibility they could face time under quarantine. Whether they’re displaying symptoms themselves or have been exposed to someone who is, millions of individuals are being asked to stay at home, remain inside, and limit their interactions with others.

In order to comfortably do that however, it’s important to be prepared. This means stocking up on enough supplies to last whatever the duration of the quarantine needs to be. Picking up enough household items to last for two weeks to a month generally isn’t a problem, as items like toilet paper, trash bags, toothpaste, laundry detergent, and hand sanitizer don’t have an expiration date and can often last a long time. 

It’s picking the right foods to stock your fridge and pantry that can be more challenging. Since so many of the food items we buy tend to spoil over time, eating properly while isolated is difficult, especially as heading out to your local grocery store becomes less of a viable option. 

Because of this, stocking up on shelf-stable foods is vitally important. Whether it’s canned soup or bags of rice, it’s smart to have food on-hand capable of lasting a long time. To help figure out which shelf-stable foods are best, we consulted with Samantha Cassetty, an MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City. 

“Ideally, you’re looking for shelf-stable foods that pack a nutritional punch,” she told Business Insider. “That means opting for mostly plant-based foods that contain fiber along with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other health- and immune-supporting compounds.”

Cassetty recommends a variety of items that aren’t just tasty and nutritional, but food that allows you to survive on for an extended period of time. Things like rice, quinoa, dried or canned fruits and vegetables, a variety of nuts, and canned soups that are low in sodium. She also says that canned tuna, salmon, and sardines help maintain a protein intake for your quarantine diet as well.

“Red flags for shelf-stable foods include excessive amounts of sugar, sodium, or other unwanted ingredients, like artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives,” Cassetty said. “These ingredients are indicative that your pick is less healthful.”

With those guidelines in mind, we set out to find suitable options for foods capable of keeping you well-fed while also staying fresh for long periods of time.

Here are some of the best shelf-stable food items to stock in your pantry:

Editor’s note: Erika Villalobos-Morsink, an MS, RD, and nutritionist based in New York City, also contributed to the content in this guide with input on what to look for when picking out the best shelf-stable food. 

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