What’s in your pantry?

Once the pantry and fridge are well stocked with fresh, colorful, healthy foods and staple ingredients, eating plant-based becomes easier. Find a complete list of staples here.

Hummus, falafel, and fresh veggies are all-time favorites! The photo and the full recipe are from The Mediterranean Dish here. Her recipe index with pictures is here.

I learned to appreciate eating the Mediterranean way when I visited Egypt, Spain, and Greece many years ago. Throughout my life, I have enjoyed the best health and found it easier to maintain my ideal weight when eating primarily fresh vegetables and drinking lots of water. The food/lifestyle pyramid I mostly follow includes a variety of fresh seasonal plant-based food with some wild-caught fish/seafood and occasional organic chicken or turkey. I don’t eat red meat.

Click here for the Mediterranean Diet at Oldways.

I stock lots of fresh leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beans, and other vegetables for salads in summer. In addition, onions, garlic, potatoes, grains/seeds such as farro, beans, hulled barley, and quinoa are almost always in my pantry and on my counter. I use them to make soups, stews, and as side dishes with steamed broccoli and other vegetables in the winter. Click here for some great soup recipes!

Here is a soup mix that you will find in my pantry all winter. Add a variety of frozen vegetables near the end of the cooking time.

I have one cup of coffee each morning, then I heat a pot of filtered water and squeeze the juice of half a lemon into an 8 oz cup twice. Lemons contain about 53 mg of vitamin C per 100 g of liquid, more than apples, honeydew melons, raspberries, or mangoes. I drink lots of water in the morning and then taper off in the afternoon, so I don’t have to get up at night.

The freezer is stocked with wild-caught salmon, organic vegetables, and soup I made in large batches.

My daily oatmeal starts with brown lentils simmered in filtered water for about twenty minutes. Next, I add cut-up dates, prunes, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, blackstrap molasses, and nutmeg before adding the rolled oats. An occasional piece of dark chocolate satisfies a sweet tooth.

Mounted behind the pantry door is the best-ever storage rack, allowing for easy viewing and access to canned goods, pasta, grains, and coffee. I found a similar rack here.

An earlier post about what I eat is here. I have avoided all red meat, processed, and fast foods for over a decade. When people learn that I do not eat red meat and rarely have dairy products or chicken, someone will always ask, “How do you get protein?” The truth is animal products are not the only source of protein. Read more about protein sources here.

This post shares what I keep on hand, some recipes I use, and other general information from trusted sources. My lab results are consistently excellent, and I do not take any medications or supplements. However, please consult your doctor before changing your diet or exercise routine.

  1. Thank you for these Wonderful tips on healthy eating. You are a great motivator. I’m going to work on keeping my home stocked with heathy food.

  2. Thank you Susan for this post. I find your posts on your healthy habits the most inspiring of all. I had forgotten about the Red Mill soup mixes.. They are an excellent way to keep a variety of beans and grains on hand. We make a large crockpot of meatless chili once a week. One trick my daughter-in-law showed me was to add a can of plain pumpkin to the soup to add thickness and extra nutrients. Wishing you continued good health.

  3. We too try to eat a Mediterranean diet the vast majority of the time. This time of year we do throw in an occasional bratwurst ( love German food) but do pretty well otherwise. My downfall is sweets. Did you have a sweet tooth before you changed your diet? I love the door rack. Clever idea.

  4. Susan, if I might ask, do you also cook the same meals for Mr. Mickey or does he cook his own meals. I see from your posts he eats like you at the restaurants but has a sweet tooth. Being a bachelor he may have always cooked for himself. Just wondering. Always enjoy your motivating and informative posts. Debbie

    1. Mr. Mickey doesn’t cook at all. After living alone for nine years in this house, he had never turned on the stove. So instead, he eats McDonald’s oatmeal, cottage cheese, blueberries, and whatever I serve him when not eating out with friends. Mr. Mickey still works four days a week for his daughter, so our schedules and mealtimes vary.

  5. Thank you so much for these healthy recipes and tips on what to keep on hand. I recently went on a plant based diet eating only chicken and salmon and lost twenty pounds! I love these ideas.

  6. And here is the secret to your health, wellness and beauty! We try to eat this way, with a lapse now and then. I won’t apologize for the unbearably delicious grilled cheese with fig preserves I had yesterday! But since I do the beans and greens 90% of the time, I relished every greasy, crunchy, gooey bite! Hah!
    I really do believe we could regain many characteristics of our youthfulness by eating what you eat, Susan.

  7. This is very good inspiration! Maybe before I take that next bite of candy corn, I can remember how well this way of eating works for you! Thank you for sharing the details!

  8. This is now one of my most favorite posts of yours! Thank you for taking the time to share all of these healthy menu/eating habits with us. I also love the visuals you included in your post. It helps so much to actually see examples of the products you have selected. It helps so much to get occasional reminders of how we need to take care of our health through wise eating choices.

  9. I have a rack in my pantry just like yours. It is a very handy item! Thanks for sharing your food pantry with us. It demonstrates how simple and economical healthy eating can be. By the way, we finally got our home organized and ready to sell. It sold quickly and now we’re on to moving. Like you, we’ll be houseless while we wait to find that perfect house. Downsizing was a big chore, but we do feel relieved.

  10. Thank you Susan for sharing such great information and also the links. I’ve signed up for one of the newsletters. I know I need to focus on clean eating and plant-based is shown to be a great route to take. I love my comfort food but we can still do ourselves a favor and use moderation when enjoying those more decadent treats.

    Enjoying these great posts of yours. Always learn from and am inspired by you. Here’s to great health!

  11. Susan, I’ve enjoyed each post detailing your diet and movement routines, as well as the changes you’ve made along the way and why. Excellent! I love seeing your FOK list. You continue to give the oK to those of us who’ve leaned in to your eating and overall life plan for years. Thanks for putting yourself out there for us in areas beyond looking our best on the outside!

  12. THANK YOU so much for what is in your pantry blog today. I am getting there by eating fresh veggies mostly and a little fruit and some chicken or turkey. I will try that soup mix. I also want to try the lemon in boiling water. Most soup mixes have a lot of sodium in them! This post is going in my archives.

  13. First, I just wanted to say how beautiful the Omni Park Grove Inn is and the lobster cobb salad with dessert photos looked amazing! What’s in your pantry today is beyond expectation so thank you for all your hard work. Over a dozen years ago I turned to the Mediterranean “diet” as a way of life. I had a smile on my face seeing all the things you have on hand because it looks very much like my own pantry/kitchen, including brand names. The only difference is that I only drink loose leaf tea from Plum Deluxe in Portland, OR. I like their process and also keep on hand their honeybush tea with elderberry for the upcoming fall and winter.

    Yesterday I made the first pot of soup with Bob’s Red Mill 13 bean mix. I’ve finally narrowed it down to about 6 favorite soup recipes I make over the colder months. My 97-year-old mother is always happy when she sees I have soup for her. My yoga instructor is vegan, and we have some interesting conversations, although I do consume some chicken, fish, shrimp. It amazes me about the hot water and lemon. As a child I remember my maternal grandmother on the farm having that every morning, and I’m about to turn 77. They knew good things so long ago! I can still picture my grandfather taking a spoonful of molasses before he headed out the door to his farm work. My grandmother made me oatmeal every morning and that has stayed with me my whole life. I like to add fresh or frozen fruit, flax meal, nutritional yeast or hemp hearts. This past summer I actually learned something new – I discovered Zephyr two tone squash and it’s buttery and nutty. Squash was never top of my list before! In the summer it really is all about salads but this time of the year it’s comfort food in soups and stews, etc. Thanks for the fun post today and a peek in your pantry and some “homework” with all the links you provided. It’s as welcome as the sunshine today!

  14. Do you ever eat peanut butter or almond butter with an apple or banana? Those veggies and fruit look so pretty in the fancy plates and bowls! Sorry this is my second comment on this wonderful post.

  15. I really appreciate your focus on healthful eating and have enjoyed so much making your overnight oatmeal for breakfast! I’m not sure who came up with the mistaken idea that fish is not meat. I’ve heard it said that if it had a face and a mother, it’s meat. Fish may be a healthier option than other meats, but is not vegetarian.

  16. Are you eating the oatmeal combo from years ago??? That is delicious! If not would you be willing to share that recipe?? Thanks so much

  17. This is without a doubt one of your best posts yet. Would love to see more like this. No matter how perfectly dressed I think I am, I know I would feel and look even better if I changed my diet and would hopefully lose some weight. Now I need to donate or eat some of the foods I have in my fridge/freezer and pantry and move forward.

  18. I love this post.
    It underlines my own thoughts and vindicates my eating – we are what we eat, that’s for sure. And you’re a terrific example of healthy eating.
    My sin is sweet eating though – I love a biscuit, or a piece of cake once a day. I figure that I don’t drink or smoke so one little indiscretion won’t hurt. What do you think?

  19. Thank you, thank you for a wonderful post!!! I am really trying to adjust my eating habits especially since I have severe anemia. I need to get more beans to boost my iron. So your post is just what I need now.

    You’re a wonderful role model for all of us in so many different ways!

    Have a marvelous weekend! I always look forward to your posts!


  20. Hola Susan. Te digo desde septiembre de 2016. Entonces conocí tu estilo de alimentación y adquirí el libro que también a mí me cambió la vida: Comer para vivir. Aunque mi manera de alimentarme era básicamente mediterránea (vivo en España), giró más hacia los productos frescos y pescados, abandoné las carnes rojas y demás, aunque de manera muy ocasional sigo pecando con los embutidos y el queso. Sentí y siento que había tomado la decisión correcta. Gracias por el trabajo de divulgación que realizas y por hacernos sentir parte de esta comunidad. Con cariño, Piedad

  21. Thank you Susan for the pantry information and protein source information. Thoughtful eating has been on my mind lately so you read my mind. Have a great week.
    Patty V

  22. Susan
    Thank you for this inspiring post. I was wondering if you’re still eating two meals a day ? I’ve been looking into intermittent fasting and I notice I definitely feel (and sleep). better when I don’t eat a heavy dinner. Any suggestions for how to get started ?

  23. So appreciate your healthy postings and clothing wisdom! We have sized down and it is a process.
    We eat plant protein and green juicing. Chewing
    your food brings life to your cells, Dr William Li.
    Supplements do not do that. We are in our 80’s
    and divine health. We exercise, garden, drink
    alkaline water and serve God.

  24. This is very good information for me right now as I am having some health issues and I need to get serious about my diet. Sometimes though I get overwhelmed by what to eat and how to prepare it then I go back to it old ways. But I know this has worked for you. I will try some of your ideas. I would really like to try the breakfast.
    Did you purchase the Mediterranean cookbook of just looked at the website? Just curious.

  25. I love this post! I am 64 and a nutritionist recommended that I adopt a whole food plant based diet 3 years ago. At that time, I was eating fish, dairy and eggs and maintaining a healthy weight. My cholesterol, however, was dangerously high. It took 2 years for my cholesterol to drop over 100 points to a high-normal place and I am thrilled with this result. I would be interested in future posts as to exactly how to make your oatmeal breakfast and what you eat for lunch and dinner, specifically. Sharing this information is a great service to other women like us and it is much appreciated!

  26. Susan,
    I love this post and remember your first about your pantry and freezer. I spent an afternoon searching for the Orca Bay wild-caught fish. Local markets have a fish counter that offers wild caught but were previously frozen so it must be eaten soon. Frozen is more convenient. The extra driving is worth it.
    Protein powders are good on days I feel that I didn’t meet my protein goals. Just mix it up and drink it. Yogurts are another boost after a busy day. Some have more protein than others.

    Thanks for the post!

  27. Thank you for this inspiring post. A few years ago I checked the Mediterranean diet and wanted to try it b/c of its benefits but just couldn’t get into it. Today I shared your post with my husband but he isn’t interested. Does Mr Mickey eat the same foods as you or do you prepare two separate meals? I want to eat healthier but need to keep harmony at the dinner table.

  28. Excellent advice and use of stock cupboard items.
    It’s important to learn to cook. Too many busy people say they haven’t got time.
    Great to see the soups.
    Thanks for posting

  29. I have been following you for many years on Instagram but a few weeks ago you disappeared. Is there a reason why? The only way I can read your blog is to go directly to it.

    1. I deleted all my social media accounts because people were using my images to defraud people with fake accounts and for other purposes I did not authorize. The only way to find me now is to come here to my website.

  30. Thank you for the Mediterranean pyramid. I too have been trying to go more plant based. I am not a bean lover. In your oatmeal, you mention “brown lentils”. Can you elaborate on your oatmeal combination? It may be a way for me to introduce and develop a liking for beans. Thank you, Ssusan.

    1. The updated recipe for oatmeal is here. The same post shares the recipe for cooking beans from scratch. Beans don’t have much flavor, but adding them to soups, salads, and pasta is an easy way to get the nutrition they offer.

  31. Hi Susan, I love that you have shared this style of eating. I have been eating this way for 45 years now. When I go out to eat I usually order some kind of fish and salad. I have not eaten red meat, pork, lamb etc since 1977 and have pretty much gone organic and my entire house is toxic free – right down to the laundry detergent. I do eat chicken and turkey without antibiotics and do love red wine. My husband is 80 and I am 73 and neither one of us takes any medication and are very rarely sick or even have a cold. I attribute that to this eating lifestyle avoiding all fast foods, processed foods and basically anything packaged. I avoid sugar at all cost – using monk fruit and almond or coconut flour for treats. Many people may think this kind of eating is boring but not at all. I can make some delicious casseroles and side dishes with veggies and whole grains and some great desserts that friends ask for the recipe. Happy Eating!!

  32. https://janeesselstyn.com/
    For those who may be interested, here’s a mother-daughter duo that just came out with a new book,
    “Be a Plant Based Woman Warrior” they are also on YouTube and fun to watch. Mom (Ann) is 87, and (daughter) Jane is 57. My yoga instructor passed along this information yesterday in class along with her “recipes” for the Ninja Creami she’s been enjoying. Making soft-serve ice cream out of fruit. Once again, she mentioned Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s books and how passionate he is about getting the message out that we can live a long, healthy, vibrant life well into our 90’s and 100’s. Dr. Fuhrman also has an online community (fee is $7.95 per month), if one becomes a member, you can listen and watch the videos that come with the membership. How to lower blood pressure and cholesterol is a 4-part series, and how to prevent breast cancer is a 3-part series. He also has exercise videos and talks.

  33. Susan, hello again! Do you think that Mr. Michey could help me? I am ready to go for a fun 2-3 days ride and enjoy the scenery you and Mr. Mickey like around your hometown as well as the wonderful unique places to eat. My husband and I live in Jacksonville, Fl and I can hardly wait to go and see Nature again after 2 years of staying at home, really. My question is after the horrendous visit of Hurricane Ian, is it ok to start driving up to Ashville, N.C where you guys go often? That’s as far as I think would like to go and stay in a hotel close to the restaurants you both like so much. Also, how could I search in this blog of yours for specifically these eating places you enjoy? What about the one you frequent for your birthdays, is it in Johnson City? I realize this is a “full mouth” email but I would love to have your help and Mr. Mickey’s suggestions please?

    1. I’ll be happy to help you, Nancy. (I am the one guiding Mr. Mickey behind the scenes.) So, if you can make your way through the debris in my beloved SW Florida, we will welcome you with open arms here in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina! We have seen countless of your brothers and sisters with Florida tags this week. Logistically speaking, Asheville is only 60 miles from Johnson City, and a world-class scenic drive awaits you as you travel on Highway 26. In addition, Gourmet and Company is our favorite local restaurant. (Reservations are highly recommended even for a lunch visit!). Visit this website for a wide variety of fun things in Western North Carolina.

  34. Hi Susan,

    You eat so well, healthy and mostly plant based, so smart.

    Congratulations that you are meds free. I would think you can give yourself a big pat on the back.

    Here’s to you!

  35. As a whole foods plant based eater myself with the occasional wild caught salmon dish and some free range eggs every few weeks I completely understand that protein from animal products is so overrated and how much we even need is driven by the animal producers. You radiate health, look extraordinary and testament to this way of life. Love your blog

  36. I don’t think I am quite as disciplined as you, but I have eaten a WF/PB diet since 2017…most of the time:) I have had great results from lab work, weight maintenance, and overall great well-being. Thank you for sharing. I love soup and will definitely try the Bob’s Red Mill and some of the recipes. I love soup, but don’t make very good soup. Thank you again for sharing!!!

  37. Hi Susan, I’m curious how many calories you eat per day? Also, do you say your medical check ups are all fine but I struggle with low iron and wonder if your diet, the Mediterranean diet, will keep my iron levels where they need to be? I know I need to ask my doctor that but I just wondered what your insights are. Thank you for your response. Bev

    1. Sorry for the brief answer previously. I was on my phone which is not my favorite device.
      Good sources of iron include beans, dried fruits, eggs, lean red meat, salmon, iron-fortified breads and cereals, peas, tofu, and dark green leafy vegetables.
      Vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, strawberries, and tomatoes help your body absorb iron.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.