Pantry Staples for People with CKD
by Stephanie Legin, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian
Who Has Time to Grocery Shop Every Day?
A variety of non-perishables such as canned and dried goods, frozen fruits and vegetables, fish and meats can be stored easily for extended periods to make planning and prepping meals easy. Knowing what to purchase is important if you have CKD and may need to watch your sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and/or sugar intake (if you’re diabetic).
Keep your life simple, save time and plan ahead. When making your next grocery list, be sure to add some of these kidney friendly pantry staples to keep on hand. By keeping your kitchen stocked, you will always have ingredients readily available to make quick, healthy, tasty CKD friendly snacks or meals in a pinch.
Breads, Cereals, & Starches
Canned Fruits & Vegetables
Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
Meat & Protein Alternatives
Herbs, Spices, & Other Flavor Boosters
Snacks & Sweets
Tips to Selecting CKD Friendly Pantry Staples
- Become an avid label reader! Always read the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list to identify how much sodium and potassium is in a food item and if phosphorus has been added.
- Choose “no salt added” or “low sodium” canned vegetables. If you cannot find “no salt added” canned vegetables, rinse them thoroughly before use or stick to plain frozen vegetables that don’t have added sauce packets (like butter or cheese sauce).
- Beans are a great plant based protein staple to have on hand; however, if you need to watch potassium and phosphorus in your diet, your health care providers may advise you to limit them in your diet.
- Buying and preparing dried beans (as opposed to canned) is a great way to avoid unwanted sodium but require a little more prep and cooking time. If you prefer canned beans, always give them a good rinse before using.
- If you need to watch your sugar intake, purchase canned fruit packed in water or its own juices and frozen fruit without added sugar or syrups.
- If you have diabetes, select diet or sugar free food and drinks (i.e. diet clear soda, diet lemonade/iced tea, sugar free hard candy, sugar free jello, etc.).
- Look for “low sodium” canned chicken and fish packed in water.
- Keep in mind dairy foods are high in potassium and phosphorus—daily servings and portions may be limited if your diet is restricted. Try some dairy free alternatives like almond or rice milk instead.
- If you love cheese, try a lower salt option, like fresh mozzarella, Swiss or cream cheese (cream cheese is not a good source of protein like Swiss or mozzarella).
- Flavored vinegars can be a great way to flavor up your favorite vegetables. Read those labels to make sure they don’t have added salt or sugar in them.
- Choose unsalted versions of your favorite snacks.
- While grocery shopping, pay attention to expiration dates.
- Avoid sweets and snacks containing chocolate, caramel, and nuts, as they are high in potassium and phosphorus. If you are a diabetic, look for a sugar free option as well.
Tips to Storing Pantry Staples
- Buy bread products and store in the freezer—take out and thaw as needed!
- Store bags of dry cereal in airtight plastic containers to retain freshness.
- Select fresh meats, poultry, fish and seafood—pre-portion, package and freeze yourself for future meals. When frozen properly, most meats, poultry, fish and seafood can be stored up to a year before needing to be discarded. For a full listing of storage guidelines refer to: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html
- Eggs—such a versatile, healthy food and can stay fresh up to 3-5 weeks when stored properly! Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Store dried herbs and spices in a cool, dark place or seal in airtight containers and freeze to extend freshness and retain their optimal flavors. If stored properly, you can keep spices for about 2 to 3 years and dried herbs for 1 to 3 years.
- To avoid waste and prevent your pantry foods from expiring and spoiling, use the FIFO (first in, first out) method of stocking your food items. Be sure to rotate your food so older items are used first before newer items.
- As always, practice food safety when preparing meals with your renal friendly pantry foods!
- The article Four Principles of Food Safety for Individuals with CKD has some excellent tips for avoiding food contamination.
By keeping kidney friendly pantry staples on hand, you will always be able to whip up meals and snacks that meet your dietary needs. Always watch portion sizes of any food you consume. A renal friendly food eaten in excess can suddenly become a non-renal friendly food! Always consult your healthcare team to know what your specific dietary guidelines are.
The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. KidneyChef urges you to seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. KidneyChef advises you to never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Website.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or local emergency service immediately. KidneyChef does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the website. KidneyChef does not guarantee the accuracy of information on the Website and reliance on any information provided by KidneyChef is solely at your own risk.