September 2, 2023

It is back-to-school time and many of us have fallen back into busy schedules. As we are crunched for time it is more important than ever to have pantry staples on hand for quick and easy meals, snacks and ways to stay hydrated! Packing your pantry full of supplies for quick family meals and nutrient-dense snacks can be key to staying on track with your meal plan this fall and bringing your family back to the dinner table for National Family Meals Month. Hy-Vee registered dietitians can help you pull those family meals, snacks and hydration solutions together with our top five fall pantry staples.

Top 5 Dietitian-Approved Pantry Staples:

• Siete Family Foods: Siete Family Foods has a wide variety of pantry-staple products, including chip options that can be great for a snack with dip, as part of a taco or burrito bowl, or crunched on top of your favorite soup or chili. Another benefit is that all of their products are gluten-free and dairy-free – making them a perfect option for those with dietary restrictions!
• Canned Pumpkin: Pumpkin contains fiber, iron and vitamins K and E. Pumpkin also provides vitamin A, which is important for eye health. Using canned pumpkin is a great way to add these nutrients to chili, soup, spreads and even baked goods.

• Wild Rice: Wild rice is another source of dietary fiber, which is important for healthy digestion and blood sugar management. But it is also packed with important nutrients including potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron and even protein. You can find wild rice in both dry and pre-cooked forms. Substitute it for white or brown rice or add to soups, casseroles or stuffed peppers for a more nutrient-dense option!

• Canned Chicken: Pre-cooked chicken is a great time and money saver and can be added to salads, soups, your secret family chili recipe, nachos and more! Chicken is a quality lean protein option that is a source of vitamin B6. Look for chicken that is canned or packaged in water. If you are focusing on managing your blood pressure, you can also look for reduced-sodium options.

• Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier Sugar-Free: Hydration is an equally important component to your balanced diet, and having Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier Sugar-Free can help encourage more water consumption. Liquid I.V.’s Sugar-Free product has no sugar, but is also free of artificial sweeteners, as it is sweetened with a proprietary amino acid allulose blend. It contains five essential vitamins and minerals that support your immune system and hydration status. Enjoy three fun flavors that can be packed for on-the-go hydration or can be easily sipped on at home, just add Liquid I.V. to 16oz. of water!

Last but not least, keep an inventory of what you have in your pantry and keep it updated to avoid stocking up on duplicates you won’t be able to get to before the expiration. This will make it much easier to throw together a quick and nutritious meal and save money by avoiding food waste! Check out the Chicken Sheet Tray Nachos recipe below for a fun way to use some of your pantry staples. To shorten the preparation time even more, you can substitute canned chicken for the chicken thighs.

Chicken Sheet Tray Nachos

All You Need:
1 (5-oz) bag Siete Grain Free Sea Salt Tortilla Chips
2 lbs chicken thighs, bone-in
5 tbsp avocado oil
1 pkg Siete Mild Taco Seasoning
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (or dairy-free shredded “cheese” of choice)
4 cups prepared guacamole or mashed avocado
Sour cream (optional) and lime wedges, for serving

All you do:
1) Preheat the oven to 400ᵒ. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat on the stovetop.
2) In a bowl, combine chicken thighs and season with oil and Siete taco seasoning.
3) Sear thighs on both sides until golden brown and then finish cooking in the oven until fully cooked.
4) Dice chicken thighs and set aside. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
5) On a sheet tray, place tortilla chips, then layer cheese and chicken. Bake until the cheese is fully melted.
6) Remove from the oven and top with guacamole and fresh lime juice; sour cream is optional.

Recipe source: Recipe link: For even more easy meal ideas, register for an upcoming On-Demand Freezer Meal Workshop. If you are looking for more individualized and consistent guidance, reach out to a local Hy-Vee registered dietitian to get started with our Healthy You Subscription Service. The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.