Whole Foods Pantry Challenge

It’s no secret that I have lofty goals for being healthier in 2012, and with one month under our belts, I already felt behind. Oh, New Year’s resolutions, how you torment me. So when one of my favorite stores, Whole Foods Ponce de Leon asked if I wanted to take their Pantry Challenge, I was intrigued. With $50 worth of pantry staples, I set off on a healthy eating adventure, and here’s what happened…


To start the New Year off right, Whole Foods wanted to show that eating healthy can be affordable. By making your choices count, they figured out that all you need to do is pick up their list of pantry staples — that rings up at about 50 bucks — and you’ll be set for healthier meals and a healthier budget. Running the gamut from beans, grains and oats to broth, diced tomatoes and pasta sauce, you’ll be prepared to drive past that drive thru in favor of healthy meals at home. Just add fresh ingredients and spices to have everything you need.


Armed with my pantry staples, I also saw that Whole Living Magazine was charging into 2012 with their fourth-annual Action Plan. An invigorating mind-body detox that will leave you feeling your absolute best as you take on the year ahead. Needless to say, I was inspired.


With a love of food, I have many opportunities to enjoy decadent meals and savory treats, but as much as I wished it were all calorie free and inexpensive… it’s not. Eating healthy food that also tastes delicious seems impossible to many. If it’s good for you to eat, it can’t be good for you to enjoy, right? Guess again. Taking the Whole Foods challenge showed me that I could actually have it all. When you’re eating healthy, you’re feeling healthy. Making these changes helps you do so much – lose weight, feel better, feel energized, clearer skin, stronger bones, live longer, save money…the list goes on and on. So check out some of the food discoveries I’ve made on this journey that are now in the permanent recipe bank. They’re easy to make, affordable and hopefully will inspire you to take the challenge:


Spaghetti with Sardines, Kale and Mushrooms

I didn’t actually have the cauliflower on hand that the original recipe calls for, so I substituted it for mushrooms and grated a little cheese on top. But the end result was flavorful and almost sinful.


Kale Pesto and Quinoa

This recipe was not only easy to make but had me wiping the blender bowl clean. Just cook the Quinoa as per the directions on the bag. While it’s cooking, add the following to a blender: Kale that’s been boiled in water for about 5 minutes, 2 garlic cloves, a handful of chopped walnuts, a little bit of grated parmesan, salt & pepper, and a few tablespoons of olive oil to bind it. You can also add a little lemon zest for extra kick. Top your Quinoa with the kale pesto and a little more grated parmesan. With the leftover pesto, I made an omelette for breakfast with sautéed mushrooms. Can you say yummy?


Quinoa with Poached Egg, Spinach, and Cucumber

This dish was filled with so many different flavors, and was extremely filling. I couldn’t even finish it!


Hummus and Avocado toast with Roasted Tomatoes

I first saw this posted on Pinterest and thought it looked incredible, so I had to try it. Instead of hummus as the base, I actually created an Italian version with cannelloni beans. Just add the beans, olive oil, lemon zest, garlic clove, fresh parsley (chopped), and salt & pepper in a blender, and voila! The dip was also great paired with Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues and a Gluten & Dairy Free approved snack by Celiac Eats.


Clearly I could keep going, but I think you’ve got a good idea of how much you can do with just the necessary staples and fresh ingredients to match, all on an affordable budget. Now, the fun part – Whole Foods Ponce de Leon and Eat. Drink. Repeat. wants to give one lucky winner a $50 Whole Foods Market® gift card to try their own healthy challenge! Just leave a comment below with what healthy foods are a “must have” in your pantry, and we’ll randomly pick a winner. Make sure to leave your comments by 11:59pm on Friday, February 10th and your contact email in order to be entered to win. A big thank you to Whole Foods Ponce de Leon for sponsoring this challenge. Happy, healthy eating in 2012!

Written by

Sarah-Ann is Editor-In-Chiefness and Publicist for Eat. Drink. Repeat. A former New Yorker, Sarah-Ann has an advanced palate when it comes to food, and a weakness for fashion, travel...and west coast oysters. From the latest trends in food and travel around the globe, to the talk of the Atlanta scene, this chic jet-setter definitely has you covered.
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  • Wildchild22

    Imagine organic free-range chicken broth, organic Sunbutter, Eden organic diced tomatoes…

  • Russell Sauve

    Almonds, almonds, almonds, almonds and almonds! 

  • Sweetmamax2

    organic steel cut oats,  Organic canned beans, Coconut oil.

  • http://lovesgoodfood.com/jason/ Jason Riedy

    Dry beans, dry (rice) pasta, canned tomatoes, oatmeal, … I could just wander over to our cupboard and look. ;)

  • Adrianna

    Steel cut oats and quinoa

  • Adina

    Love Whole Foods bulk bins!  Quinoa (our new household fave), raw nuts, organic steel cut oats, almond meal, cashew butter, and almond butter.

  • Sharonda

    I am all about eating happy and healthy and love a good pantry challenge.

  • Nicole

    Love to get pine nuts from the Whole Foods bulk bins for pesto, 365 Everyday Value tunafish, almond butter, artichoke hearts, chicken broth, whole wheat spaghetti and couscous. 

  • Anonymous

    Garbanzo beans are a must for homemade hummus & soups/stews. I’m a sucker for Whole Foods’ Applewood Smoked Bacon — a key ingredient of manly breakfasts everywhere. Fresh, local, in-season fruit sitting on the counter makes me feel good about grazing between meals.

    To see what I do with just 5 ingredients, here’s a short video for your snickering pleasure. http://kukbook.tumblr.com/post/15262911763/garrett-is-kuking-tilapia-full-recipe-here

  • http://www.facebook.com/moreilley Mo Reilley

    Water is #1! (Does that count or no? Lol!) Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. Kale for sure. I use it for juicing, smoothies, salads, pasta, pizza, omelets…it goes in just about everything. Seasonal, local produce for juicing – I tend to keep a supply of oranges, apples, and grapefruits – even if I’m not mixing them with anything else, those fruits freshly juiced alone are amazing. I also have a weird obsession with diced or stewed tomatoes. Yum. [mo.reilley@gmail.com]

  • Shradz S.

    Sprouted grain bread, quinoa, KALE, all different kinds of beans and lentils, tempeh, oats (oh n who can forget Rip Esselsytyn’s big ol bowl of his great cereal) , nuts ( especially the one’s loaded with mono- and poly- unsaturated fats (like almond, pistachios etc.) 
    all different kind and colors of veggies and fruits ( to get the most variety of nutrients)… 

  • Shradz S.

    Not to forget the whole grain pasta n veggie stocks/broth to limit the amount of oils… 
    and if using oils, the best option is extra virgin olive oil n next would be canola oil… 
    steel cut oats are a good pantry item as well… 

  • Dee

    Quinoa, beans (black, garbanzo, etc) almonds, walnuts, tuna, olive oil, oats, whole grain pasta…the list could go on & on!  

  • Nate Nate

    Brown Rice, Whole Grain Pasta, 365 EVOO, Balsamic Vinegar, Quinoa, Tabasco, Whole Foods Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Black Beans (dry) – just to start off the top of my head!

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