Even nutrition experts have foods they’re embarrassed about stashed in their pantry! I asked specialists around the country which secret foods they have in their house — you’ll be surprised at what they had to say.
“[When I was] growing up my parents didn’t buy the high-sugar cereal, and I always wanted it. My best friend always had Fruity Pebbles at his house, and I loved going over there just to get to eat them. Now as an adult I still really like them and keep them in my pantry for late-night dessert. I always feel guilty buying them, but I absolutely love eating them.”
— Wesley Delbridge, R.D., Food & Nutrition Director for the Chandler Unified School District in Arizona
Boxed Muffin Mix
“Although I truly love baking mostly from scratch, every once in a while I’ll find a boxed bread or muffin mix at Trader Joe’s that I get excited about trying. I don’t use baking mixes very regularly, but with how quickly they come together, I completely understand the appeal!”
“I have several pouches of baby food in my pantry, even though I’m not a mom! I like to use the pureed fruit and veggie varieties in baking to replace some of the butter or oil in muffin and pancake recipes, or simply to add extra vitamins, minerals and moisture. Right now, I have an apple-sweet-potato combo and a strawberry-pear-banana one on hand. Applesauce and mashed bananas also work well as add-ins to baked goods.”
“I am addicted to any tortilla chips, and especially ones that have a hint of lime. I am really more of a salt-craving gal. ….I love how crunchy and salty they are. These are one of the things where portion control just doesn’t work for me. I could graze on them all day. It is how I sometimes get through my paperwork; it keeps me going!”
“We are all aware of the high levels of sodium associated with a package of ramen noodles, but fortunately we can do something about it. The additional seasoning packet is the main source of sodium. I eliminate the packet altogether and build a really nutritious meal around the noodles. My two favorites I make are Thai peanut noodles and a crispy mandarin orange salad.”
— Joel Barohn, RDN, L.D., Nutrition Educator at the Houston Food Bank
“If I went through my pantry right now I know I’d find at least a few boxes of expired food. Living in New York City, I tend to go out to eat multiple times per week. Between that, free samples that I can’t pass up and two-for-one deals at the grocery store, I inevitably end up with food that I forget to make. That being said, some of it I can still use, since canned foods like beans, dried lentils or dry pasta often last much longer than their one- or two-year expiration dates.”
“I buy fresh corn on the cob all summer long, but I use canned corn the rest of the year, when corn is out of season. It’s just such a great pantry staple to add to a winter soup, salad or quesadilla. Even though I know that it’s canned with sugar and salt, I just love the convenience of opening the can and adding the sweet veggie to my dishes.”
“My guilty pantry food is Garrett’s sweet caramel-and-cheddar cheese-flavored Garrett Mix popcorn. Otherwise known as ‘crack corn,’ this treat food never lasts for more than a few days in my house, because it’s just so good! For this reason I try not to have it around that often. I will bring it to parties, where it can be shared among many people.”
“I buy a natural version, yet they are still made with unbleached flour and have no nutritional value. I have loved saltine crackers since I was a little girl; they are crunchy, salty and delicious! They are also a nostalgic food to me, because my grandmama used to keep a sleeve of saltine crackers on her nightstand. I guess you could say our love for these crackers runs in the family. I enjoy them with peanut butter, with hummus, crumbled on soup or just as they are.”
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.