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While it’s true that many shelf-stable foods are often loaded with preservatives (think condiments, lunch meats, and bags of chips), a number of good-for-you foods naturally last for a long time. Stock up on these staples whenever it’s convenient, and they’ll be on hand when you’re ready to get cooking. Curious about the shelf life of more foods in your kitchen? Consult our comprehensive food storage chart.
Almonds are filled with monosaturated fatty acids, and they’re a great source of vitamin E and fiber. According to Fruit and Veggies More Matters, they can last for up to one year when stored in the refrigerator. Pack them for an afternoon snack or use them to make your own almond milk.
2. Brown Rice
Packed with fiber, vitamin E, and a variety of antioxidants, (unopened) brown rice can last for one year at room temperature. After its been opened (to make, for example, this brown rice bowl with egg and avocado), it should stay good for about six months.
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3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are packed with fiber and calcium, and have been linked to lower blood pressure. When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, they can stay fresh for up to one year. Try them in one of these deliciously hearty breakfasts.
The only naturally “dehydrated” fruit, fiber-rich dates are a nutritious way to enhance a savory recipe or sweeten up a smoothie. They can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for several months, or refrigerated for up to one year.
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5. Dried Beans
Unlike canned beans, which are often stored in sodium, dried beans are free of additives and preservatives. They’re also an excellent, cholesterol-free source of protein, and can last for up to two years in the pantry. Try adding them to one of these slow-cooker stews.
6. Nut Butters
Filled with protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, nut butters can last at room temperature for nine months unopened (once opened, they’ll stay good for three months). Look for jars with short ingredient lists and zero added trans fats.
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Oats are an excellent source of fiber, help to keep cholesterol in check, and contain vitamins, minerals, and even some protein. Unopened containers can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to four months, according to the Whole Grains Council. Give them a try in our fruit-and-nut filled baked oatmeal.
8. Olive Oil
An excellent source of monounsaturated fats, olive oil is great drizzled onto toast, or used when roasting veggies. An unopened bottle will keep at room temperature for one year, and once it’s been opened it will keep for six months.
Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, meaning it’s a “complete protein,” and it will keep for up to four months in the pantry. Pack the fiber-rich grain into a burrito or mix it into a salad.
10. Winter Squash
From acorn to butternut to delicata, winter squash (and pumpkins!) can stay fresh for up to three months when stored in a cool, dry area away from sunlight. A good source of vitamin C, try roasting wedges of squash or blending it into a soup.