Stocking the Pantry for Quick Meals

Cooking Tips for Diabetics

Cooking for someone with diabetes, whether yourself or someone else, is really just a commitment to cooking healthy on a day-to-day basis. When your pantry is properly stocked, quick meals are a snap as you only have to shop the perimeter of your store for the fresh ingredients:  meat , poultry, fish or seafood; fresh fruits and vegetables; and dairy products.

Here's a no-stress shopping list for your staples:

Canned Goods (reduced-sodium, low-fat)

  • Beans: black, cannellini, garbanzo (chick peas), kidney, navy, pinto, and white
  • Beef broth
  • Chicken broth
  • Vegetable broth
  • Evaporated skim milk
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Tomatoes: crushed, diced, and whole
  • Tuna and salmon, packed in water

Beans, Legumes, Grains, Pasta, and Rice

  • Dried beans: black, cannellini, chick peas, navy, pinto and white, black-eyed Legumes: black-eyes peas, split peas, brown and red lentils Couscous
  • Instant polenta or stone-ground cornmeal
  • Pasta: angel hair, farfalle (bow-tie), fettuccine, lasagna, linguine, penne, Oriental rice sticks, rotelle, spaghetti, and ziti
  • Rice: Arborio, basmati, brown, long-grain, quick-cooking, and wild


  • Cooking spray
  • Oils: canola, olive, and dark sesame

Condiments and Miscellaneous

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Asian chile sauce
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Capers
  • Cocoa powder
  • Cornstarch
  • Cream of tartar
  • Dried chiles
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Dry bread crumbs (unseasoned)
  • Extracts: almond, lemon, pure vanilla
  • Flours: all-purpose and whole-wheat
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Honey
  • Ketchup (low-sodium)
  • Light maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Mustard: Dijon and yellow mustard
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Fat-free and reduced-fat salad dressings
  • Rolled oats
  • Salsa
  • Sugar and brown sugar
  • Sugar-free and unflavored gelatin
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed)
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Spreadable fruit preserves
  • Vinegar: balsamic, red wine, and white wine
  • Worcestershire sauce (low-sodium)


  • Cajun blend
  • Chili powder
  • Chili seasoning mix
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Ground Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Ginger
  • Dried herbs: basil, bay leaves, dill weed, oregano, rosemary, sage, saffron, tarragon, and thyme
  • Garlic powder and garlic salt
  • Italian seasoning mix
  • Mexican seasoning mix
  • Paprika
  • Poppy seeds
  • Pepper
  • Salt and kosher salt
  • Taco seasoning mix (low-sodium)

For the Freezer

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Egg substitute
  • Frozen corn kernels
  • Frozen unsweetened fruits and berries
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Frozen filo dough
  • Frozen puff pastry sheets

If you keep these staples on hand, you'll always be able to whip up a quick, healthy, delicious meal—one that is diabetes-friendly and will help you take good care of your blood glucose levels.

Updated on: April 14, 2011