Kelli’s Paleo Pantry Essentials

Living Paleo is no different from living not Paleo. If you get hungry, you walk into your kitchen and take food out of your fridge your freezer or your pantry. You cook it or you nuke it, but the fact is, it’s there to prepare.

You’re going to do better with the Paleo lifestyle change if you have the materials to make that change at hand. This isn’t something you want to do by finding a recipe and going to get the supplies for that recipe, only to do the same for other recipes. You’re going to want a few staples on hand so you can be a little more spontaneous than that.

What is your pantry going to look like? Different from mine. Just because we’re following the same lifestyle does not mean we’re going to do it the same way. You may prefer fish and poultry while I prefer heavier-flavored game meats. You may want to eat a lot of salads while I prefer my veggies sautéed. You may drink tea while I drink coffee.

One of the free resources I offer is a pantry list. It’s very important to have a pantry you can work from. There are a few things that are top-of-the-list important for me, though. These are my Paleo pantry essentials.

Inside My Paleo Fridge

Obviously, you’re going to be shopping for fresh meats, veggies and fruits to eat, but the pantry items on my list are more about preparation and spontaneity. These are things my fridge cannot be without.

Eggs — I eat a LOT of eggs. I always have two in the morning, In the summer, when I’m more likely to eat cold meals, I’ll have two hard-boiled eggs at lunchtime. Believe it or not, eggs are good for you, particularly the yolk, which is full of all kinds of vitamins and the vital nutrient choline. They also can help give your meal staying power so you’re not wanting to nosh unnecessarily.

Salsa — I keep a bottle of mild Pace picante sauce in my fridge for impromptu “chili” which is usually a meat, sweet potatoes, a veggie and “chili stuff,” which, for me, tends to be salsa, peach puree, spices and cayenne. Pace is paleo friendly.

Maple syrup — Real maple syrup is a sweetener for me and I always have some on hand. I cook with it, bake with it and, occasionally, I actually put it over pancakes.

Butter — I know this seems out of place given Paleo’s ban on dairy, but I still use butter daily for cooking. We’re talking about real, unsalted butter, not substitutes. Grass fed is best. Almost all of my pan frying and sauté is done in butter.

Stocking a Paleo Freezer

Your freezer is going to have some meats and veggies in it, but there are a few things you don’t want to miss.

Cauliflower rice — I was skeptical of cauliflower rice when it became popular, but I love it. I use it as…well…rice. I’ve made fried rice, I’ve put it in soups and stews, and I’ve just added it to dished for a little extra texture. It’s great to have in a pinch.

Fruit — I got a wild hair and made a blueberry mocha smoothie. How? I had the materials. Frozen fruit is fantastic to have as part of your stock and smoothies made with frozen fruit don’t need ice to water them down. Keep your favorites on hand.

Chocolate — True dark chocolate is good for you, and sometimes it’s just what you need for that sweet tooth. Dark chocolate bars (70% – 90% cocoa) in the freezer can be a great bonus, and Ghriardelli has a great 60% chocolate chip that’s great for mixing with nuts and fruit for a snack. If you decide you want Paleo chocolate chip cookies or to try your hand at Paleo hot cocoa, having the materials on hand never hurts.

Paleo Pantry Staples

This is the area where I tend to have more stock than anywhere else. I keep cans of olives, jars of fruit purées, boxes of bone broth and nuts. But what is most important to me here is baking supplies.

Flours — True, you’re not supposed to have any grain flours on this eating plan, but there are others. I highly recommend keeping almond flour on hand. Of the alternative flours, I find that it’s the one that behaves the most like regular wheat flour. For those who can’t have tree nuts, coconut flour and cassava flour are also handy. Be aware that if you use some of these flours slowly, they may need to be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Honey — This is another sweetener for me, but I sometimes use it as a topping as well. Bananas with a little honey and cinnamon make a great snack.

Arrowroot starch — Cornstarch is out, so if you like gravies and stews, makes sure you have arrowroot on hand. Tapioca starch also works really well.

Spices — This is a big one. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me how I can stomach such a bland diet. I’m not sure what brand of Paleo they were on, but there is nothing bland about it. I love food with Mediterranean or Middle Eastern spices. I’m usually putting a touch (too much) of cayenne in my meals. I eat Garam Masala on my sweet potatoes. There is no reason for this lifestyle to be bland.

Bottled water — Why? Because you should drink about 8 cups (not glasses) of water a day, and that’s about four bottles. They’re handy. Just open one up and drink at your leisure. If you’re someone who knows they don’t drink enough water, this is a great way to get some down.

What’s on My Paleo Shopping List?

Paleo is clean eating. That mean fresh food, not prepackaged with all kinds of preservatives, salts, sugars and grains that you don’t need. I like my veggies sautéed, so I buy leafy greens like spinach, sweet peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli and asparagus. I prefer bacon for breakfast, but ground turkey or chicken with lots of poultry seasoning makes a great substitute sausage. Because I’m single, I can grab packs of breakfast steaks, chicken thighs and fish portions, separate them and freeze them in portions.

But I’m also on the go a lot. I grab Paleo-friendly snacks like GoGoSqeez, Epic bars and Lära bars. If i’m on the road, I always have beef jerky, and Epic makes some great uncured jerkies. I do whatever I need to do to keep from pulling over and hitting McDonalds. Having something handy in the car helps cut back on Bacon Double Cheeseburgers.


Really, when you get down to it, Paleo living looks exactly like non-Paleo living. The ingredients are just a little different. Start slow. Start small. Don’t go whole hog until you know you want the whole hog. Then make sure that your life isn’t disrupted by the fact you’ve just rolled out of bed wanting pancakes, and you don’t have the supplies to make the.

Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below.

Author: Kelli Heitstuman-Tomko

Kelli Heitstuman-Tomko has a degree in journalism and is a published novelist. She has written on food, agriculture, business, crime and tourism. She has lived in Idaho, New Hampshire, Florida, Wyoming and Colorado. She currently resides in Fallon, Nevada.

10 thoughts on “Kelli’s Paleo Pantry Essentials”

  1. I enjoyed reading this article. I’m not paleo – have enjoyed a few paleo meals, but not every meal by any means. but I really like you’re advice on having staple foods stocked at home – makes sense and makes life easier whether you’re paleo or not

    thanks again

    1. I originally started this lifestyle from a homeless situation, and then I moved in with my parents had tried the Whole 30 diet, and my Mom had a stocked pantry. As we’ve been adapting my the recipes on this site, it’s been great having her stocked baking pantry. I’m hoping to have a place of my own again eventually, and I swear I’ll have a pantry stocked as well as hers is. It’s just been so handy and convenient.

  2. Great post! I am working myself into Paleo and need some new ideas so I glad to have a birds-eye-view of your pantry staples.

    I have a hard time finding jerky that is somewhat “healthy” i.e clean ingredients. Do you know of a quality online source that is reasonably priced? It does not have to be grass fed..yet. I just want to get started. Any ideas?

    1. One of my favorite brands is Old Trapper. It has a lot less of the junk other brands have. But you might try the Epic brand as well. I’ve never seen their jerky in anything other than single serves. I ran into them a lot while I was traveling in gas stations and truck stops.

  3. Thanks for the education, I didn’t even know their was a think called paleo diet.  I really should eat a lot more healthy, I put on a bit of weight in the last 10 years I have not worked.  I pretty sure this diet will help me lose some of that wight I am carrying.  I do like eating fresh foods, I guess I just get lazy sometimes.  Any ideas for the more lazy people to do this diet?

    1. I will be the first to admit that I am fundamentally lazy, lol. I will pick up grocery store chicken on occasion. I just make sure it’s baked. I have also picked up precooked meats at the store, you’re just going to want to be careful of too much sodium and added glazes or sauces. My mom used to go to a local pizza place and buy $5 salads. They were family sized and we would just take what we wanted and put the rest in the fridge for later. I will also confess that I buy my hard-boiled eggs. Yep. Our eggs at home are fresh from the chicken (Mom has 11 hens), and those eggs don’t hard cook well. The eggs are hard to peel and you lose half the white just trying to get to it.

      When I first started this diet, I was homeless, so I was buying a lot of foods from the grocery store or from cafés and restaurants. I just avoided anything breaded and deep fried, anything with grains and no cheese or gravies and sauces. I also found a few handy items (They’re under my “Favorite Things” tab on the menu at the top of the page) the kind of helped me snack healthy when I wasn’t getting regular meals.

      Honestly, though, if you start making small changes, it will be easier to make larger ones down the road.

  4. I just realized that my life-style could be referred to as paleo. Obviously I might be wrong in terms of what it actually stands for, but I don’t eat dairy products or gluten containing products. I focus on vegetables and fruits mostly, also meat, fish, poultry, as well as nuts and seeds. No sugar or processed foods.

    In that sense butter is a big no-no for me. I use olive oil instead, I imagine you could also benefit greatly in switching that butter out for extra virgin olive oil. The positive antioxidative effects of the latter are just mind boggling and do surpass by a mile any benefits that the former would have on health.

    Really loved the advice on bottled water. Makes so much sense and I believe is so easy to incorporate in one’s daily life. On top of that, it’s really easy to track how much water you’re actually drinking a day, which by other means I’ve found pretty much impossible.

    All in all I really enjoyed the article.

    Thank you and have a Great One! 🙂


    1. Butter is one of the few dairy products I use, but I do alway use olive oil, though not for my panfrying. I use it mostly for drizzling and mixing salads, dishes, spices, etc. I also use avocado oil on occasion, but mostly I stick with butter or olive oil

  5. I am not a Paleo person myself but, I learned some very interesting things from your article and the food doesn’t sound that bad either, it seems to be very similar to the non-paleo diet though, as you pointed out. I knew eggs were good for you but, I didn’t realize the egg yoke has, choline in it. I also, think the bananas with a little honey and cinnamon sounds tasty as well.

    Nice article!

    1. It is amazing how many vitamins and nutrients, like choline, are in clean food. I’ve actually had to restructure my vitamin regimen because I was getting too much of some (calcium! ugh! I effectively gave myself a kidney stone!). Egg yolks are a prime source of choline.

      And bananas with honey and cinnamon are amazing!

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