TOP ATE Pantry Staples (Must-Have Ingredients)

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Clear out those half-eaten bags of cookies and stale potato chips... It's time for a guilt-free pantry makeover, TOP ATE style!

  Salt-Free Seasoning Mixes

1/4 tsp., average: 0 - 5 calories, 0g fat, 0mg sodium, 0 - 1g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein -- PointsPlus® value 0*

Let's get one thing straight -- salt-free seasoning blends, like the kinds popularized by Mrs. Dash, are totally cool. They come in countless varieties -- garlic & herb! tomato basil! -- and add loads of flavor without hiking up the sodium count. Here at Hungryland, when someone asks, "What smells amazing?", the answer is frequently, "Chicken with Mrs. Dash!" Mama D also recently launched these new Table Blends, and McCormick has great no-salt options in the Perfect Pinch lineup. There's really no excuse for bland food with this stuff in existence. Stock up so you can make flavorful food in a... dash.

TOP ATE Pantry Staples: Salt-Free Seasoning Mixes
TOP ATE Pantry Staples: Canned Pure Pumpkin
  Canned Pure Pumpkin

1/2 cup, average: 45 calories, 0g fat, 6mg sodium, 9.5g carbs, 4.5g fiber, 4g sugars, 1.5g protein -- PointsPlus® value 0*

Don't pigeonhole canned pumpkin as a Thanksgiving-only product. Sure, it might be easier to locate then, but you can find it in supermarkets year-round; check the baking aisle -- lower shelf. So what can you do with it? Make baked goods without any eggs or oil... thicken soups and sauces... even add it to oatmeal! Orange you glad you know about this perfect pantry item?

  Old-Fashioned Oats

1/2 cup (uncooked), average: 150 calories, 3g fat, 0mg sodium, 27g carbs, 4g fiber, 1g sugars, 5.5g protein -- PointsPlus® value 4*

Do not confuse these hearty grains with instant or quick-cooking oats -- we're talking about the real-deal rolled variety here, with all the fiber intact. The reason we're such sticklers is that old-fashioned oats are integral when making our famous growing oatmeal bowls. (The trick is using twice the liquid and cooking the oats twice as long... but that won't work with those other oats!) Plus, you can use 'em in baked goods, pizza crusts... even slow-cooker dishes. Oats for the win!

TOP ATE Pantry Staples: Old-Fashioned Oats
TOP ATE Pantry Staples: Pouched Tuna
  Pouched Tuna

One 2.6-oz. pouch albacore tuna packed in water, average: 80 calories, 1.5g fat, 193mg sodium, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 16g protein -- PointsPlus® value 2*

Pouches are the new cans, people. No need to wrangle a can opener or drain any liquid. This makes tuna pouches, like the ones by StarKist, ideal for on-the-go eating. And while they rock when it comes to snacking straight from the package, we use tuna pouches in a lot of recipes too -- lettuce wraps, fruity salads, stuffed mushrooms, and more! Just stick with tuna packed in water, not oil...

  Fiber One Original Bran Cereal

1/2 cup: 60 calories, 1g fat, 110mg sodium, 25g carbs, 14g fiber, 0g sugars, 2g protein -- PointsPlus® value 2*

Bran is the plan! And not just for your cereal bowl. We use high-fiber cereal twigs as a yogurt topping, a parfait ingredient and, best of all, to give fried foods a guilt-free makeover! You just crush the cereal in a blender, and season the crumbs. Then coat your food with egg substitute (or egg whites) and the seasoned crumbs, and bake until crispy. Yum! We've been all about Fiber One Original pretty much since the dawn of HG. But because a lot of peeps are going the all-natural route these days, we're happy to shout out a good alternative -- Nature's Path Organic SmartBran.

TOP ATE Pantry Staples: High-Fiber Bran Cereal
TOP ATE Pantry Staples: Amy's Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque
  Amy's Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque

1 cup: 130 calories, 4g fat, 680mg sodium, 21g carbs, 3g fiber, 14g sugars, 3g protein -- PointsPlus® value 3*

At least one can of this stuff should always be in your kitchen. Sure, it's fantastic on its own. But it's also a great base to which you can add veggies and protein. And you can use it as an incredible sauce -- try tossing it with steamed broccoli cole slaw. Or doctor it up a bit and serve it over this dreamy date-night chicken dish. Calling it merely a soup feels almost like a disservice. P.S. There's a Light in Sodium version as well!

  Nonstick Spray

1/4 second spray, average: 0 calories, 0g fat, 0mg sodium, 0g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein -- PointsPlus® value 0*

"HG, that's boring!" Time out -- nonstick spray is wildly important when it comes to guilt-free cooking. It's too easy to add a ton of extra calories and fat grams to your food by using regular cooking oil -- this spray keeps that to a minimum. But FYI, though the official nutritional info says no calories or fat, that's for a serving of a fraction-of-a-second spray. A more realistic 1-second spray has 5 - 10 calories and 0.5 - 1g fat. Still great! And there are a bunch of cool new varieties out there these days, using oils like grapeseed and coconut. Nothing boring about that...

TOP ATE Pantry Staples: Nonstick Spray
TOP ATE Pantry Staples: Pouched Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  Pouched Sun-Dried Tomatoes

2 tbsp. chopped, average: 40 calories, 0g fat, 25mg sodium, 7.5g carbs, 2g fiber, 4.5g sugars, 1g protein -- PointsPlus® value 1*

And once again in the interest of not adding unnecessary oil, we have these babies. A lot of sun-dried tomatoes come packed in a jar of oil -- what's the point? The pouched or bagged kinds -- packed dry -- are just as delicious and a great way to bump up the flavor of a meal or snack without tacking on lots of calories. Some of our favorites are made by Bella Sun Luci; check out the seasoned varieties!


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Monday, September 1st, is Labor Day. Check out our TOP ATE tips for eating healthy at those BBQs! There won't be an HG email on Monday, but we'll be back Tuesday with an incredible pizza swap!

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® trademark.

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