The Best Pantry Staples for Runners

  Mar 25, 2019  |  #meal prep

These pantry staples for runners are long shelf life foods that will improve performance and recovery.

One of my favorite topics for runners is eating enough, as you probably know. While I think many people focus on the training aspects of running, I prefer to focus on the fueling. Running and training is nothing without sufficient, adequate and proper fueling.

With spring marathon season nearly here, and the Boston Marathon around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share some items on my pantry list for runners. I’ve written about pantry staples for healthy eating, and I’ve written about the best recovery foods for runners. So, why not combine them and discuss the best pantry staples for runners. These long shelf life foods are great for getting more bang for your buck, and always having runner-friendly food options available.

That being said, today I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite pantry staples for runners. So, this post won’t be focusing on fridge essentials, but maybe I’ll do another post discussing those. Instead, these kitchen staples have a great home in the pantry are long shelf life foods.

This is another post in my spring sports nutrition collection. Don’t forget to check out the last one about all things race day nutrition before your next race.

Pantry Staples for Runners



As we all know, carbohydrates are a runner’s best friend and the instant fuel and energy for runners. Therefore, carbohydrates should make up the bulk of kitchen staples for runners. And, fortunately, many of these on the pantry list for runners are long shelf life foods, meaning you don’t have to replace them as often. You can buy them in bulk to save money and not worry about them going bad. Buying in bulk is also one of my favorite tips to save money on groceries!


Favorite Carbohydrate Pantry Staples

  • Oats
  • Dried Fruit
  • Pasta
  • Granola & Trail Mix
  • Cereal
  • Maple Syrup

Oats, granola, maple syrup are staples for runners

Now, let’s break each one down a little further.


Probably my most recommended pantry staple for runners. Oats are so versatile and can be a blank canvas for toppings and flavor. Whether you like a bowl of hot oats, overnight oats, baked oatmeal or energy bites with oats, these are a must-have. Full of complex carbohydrates, fiber, iron and beta-glucans (great for lowering cholesterol), these will help provide quick energy as well as longer lasting energy.


Dried Fruit

I always have raisins on hand because they are the easiest possible snack around. I also love dried mango and tart dried cherries, which you can get in bulk at Costco. Tart cherries (and tart cherry juice) are great for runners and may help with muscle recovery and reducing inflammation from oxidative stress.

Dried tart cherries are great for runners


While there are many types of pasta on the market, I like the good old white and wheat pasta. Pasta is the most basic pantry staples for runners, and as easy of a meal option as they come. It’s great for mixing with vegetables and can cook up quickly, when you’re hangry hungry after a run. If you choose pasta-alternatives or other protein pastas, be sure you’re still getting sufficient carbohydrates in your meal.

If you have more time, we love this veggie pasta bake in our house. Sometimes I make a few each week (and freeze one) to quickly reheat.

Veggie Pasta Bake with one piece missing

Granola & Trail Mix

The best easy snack for runners. You get the nutritional boost of oats, dried fruit, and healthy, inflammation-reducing unsaturated fats from nuts and seeds. I love the Ancient Grains storebought one, but it’s so easy to make your own (like this triple peanut butter granola or coconut maple cinnamon granola).

Ancient grains granola from Costco

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a great carbohydrate and simple sugar source for runners. But, another reason it’s on the pantry list for runners is because it also has micronutrients, like zinc, iron, manganese, potassium and calcium. I love buying this at Costco because you get a much larger size for your money. True maple syrup (and you want the real stuff) can be expensive, so this is one of my pantry staples for runners to buy in bulk.

Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes

Another no-brainer that this deserves on kitchen staples list. Sweet potatoes are bursting with complex carbs, which help to replenish those glycogen stores that runners deplete after long runs. They also have ample beta carotene, an antioxidant and a precursor for Vitamin A, which can help with recovery and immunity. Additionally, they have Vitamin C, iron and potassium.

I love them in my baked oatmeal with blueberries, sweet potato breadsweet potato ginger energy bites and in turkey burgers.

Sweet Potato Energy Bites

Whole Wheat Bread & Baking Essentials

We usually have loaves of Dave’s Killer Bread, and I do a lot of baking with white whole wheat flour and almond flour. These almond flour banana muffins are great energy-rich snacks and easy to grab and go and take for a post-workout snack or to the office.


Some of these contain carbohydrates too, but have a larger proportion of protein. Usually, when we’re hungry and need food quick, we turn to carbohydrates. And they may satisfy that initial hunger, but often times, we need more substantial energy, in the form of protein and/or fat. So, keeping these kitchen staples on hand will be a life saver.

Favorite Protein Pantry Staples

  • Protein Powder
  • Kodiak cakes (protein pancakes)
  • Canned tuna and salmon
  • Quinoa
  • Peanut butter
  • Lentils & legumes
  • Chickpea pasta


beans and legumes for runners

Protein Powder

I have started recommending clients to Gainful Protein because it’s a personalized blend made just for you depending on your goals! You just take a quick quiz, and they can personalize a protein blend based for you! Whether you want whey protein, a vegan version, or are focused on muscle building, it’s a great personalized option that’s not one-size-fits-all.

Kodiak Cakes

I’m a sucker for pancakes, and Kodiak Cakes makes it easy to make them quickly (not just reserved for Saturdays). They also use whey protein powder to up the protein content in pancakes, making them a more well-balanced meal option. Still, great to add fruit, seeds, and nuts/nut butter for a more complete meal.

This is one of my favorite post long run meals. Plus, they contain carbohydrates too.

Kodiak Cakes with fruit and peanut butter with running watch

Canned salmon and tuna

One of the quickest sources of protein and healthy fats. I love to buy the bulk cans of canned salmon at Costco, and they usually last a few months. When I need a quick snack or meal, I just pop some on bread or an english muffin for a sandwich, or have some with crackers and hummus. If you want to disguise the taste a little more, form them into salmon patties!

Kirkland canned pink salmon


Quinoa can be bland on its own, so I always like to cook it chicken broth or coconut milk. I also love adding cheese and herbs. Quinoa is great for a quick salad option, or mixing with legumes, canned beans or canned tuna. Plus, it’s a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that our body can’t make) with 8 grams of protein per cup (cooked).

Quinoa is another one of my favorite pantry staples and long shelf life foods. Buying it in bulk saves alot of money!

Mango Lime Quiona Salad with spatula

Peanut Butter

If you’re a regular reader, this is not surprising. I don’t go a day without peanut butter. I often involve it in multiple meals and snacks every day. It’s an easy source of protein and unsaturated fats (great for reducing inflammation after long runs), and also provides magesium and zinc.

The Kirkland brand of peanut butter is my favorite. Not only is it just peanuts and salt, it is the ultimate creamy peanut butter. And I’ve tried ALOT of peanut butters. Plus, nothing represents kitchen staples more than two large 28 oz jars of peanut butter (for $11.99). You’re not going to find a better deal.

bread with peanut butter and banana

Or, if you prefer making your own peanut butter, this salted peanut butter is a game changer.

Lentils and Canned Beans

Legumes, lentils and beans represent ways to add plant-based protein to your lifestyle! Canned beans are certainly one of the pantry staples because they cook in minutes and can be added to anything (pasta, rice, salads, soups). I prefer canned beans (rather than dry beans) on the pantry list for runners because they cook much quicker, and usually, time is of the essence!

Easy vegetarian dinner with chickpeas and vegetables

Chickpea Pasta

Love having this on hand as an alternative (with more protein) to regular pasta. We like to mix them together and add some frozen vegetables and cheese in for a quick meal!

Chickpea pasta with canned salmon

If we were talking about fridge essentials, I would also add eggs (the most versatile ingredient there is, in my opinion) and yogurt. And for freezer essentials, frozen vegetables are a staple in our house.


  • Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds – These are easy toppings for salads, oatmeal, yogurt, baked goods and more. Extra unsaturated fats, iron, calcium, protein and other micronutrients.
  • Coffee – There is some research showing that caffeine may be an ergogenic aid in regards to sports performance, but it is on an individual basis (as we all react differently and may be sensitive to different amounts).
  • Olive Oil or Avocado Oil – Avocado oil is great for high heat cooking, but both options are great sources of unsaturated fats.
  • Electrolytes – Electrolytes are vital for runners, especially in warm weather running. We lose electrolytes through sweat, so it’ important to replenish them for optimal performance. They help with the exchange of nutrients and waste products between cells, fluid balance, blood pressure, regulating pH and more. More details about electrolytes in this post.

Liquid IV electrolyes for runners

Well, there you have it. Those are some of my most-used pantry staples and what’s on my pantry list for runners. Curious to hear what’s on yours!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I received complimentary items from Costco for this post but was not compensated. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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17 responses to “The Best Pantry Staples for Runners

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that granola at Costco but I’m definitely going to look for it when I go this weekend. Looks tasty! I’m all about the Kirkland peanut butter too. When a late night hangry feeling sets in, give me a spoon and that peanut butter and I’m good to go.

  2. Oats is my favorite carbohydrate and quinoa for my protein. I would usually prepare overnight oats for my breakfast, this can last me not feeling hungry until lunch time. Then quinoa for lunch and dinner. These 2 are the best superfoods for me.

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