Protein from Plants? The surprising places you can find protein in your pantry

Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD

More Americans than ever are interested in eating plant-based foods high in protein. You may be surprised to learn that there’s a lot of protein hiding in your pantry. To include more plant-based protein foods in your meals, consider the following items:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned Beans (especially low-sodium)
  • Dry Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Shelf-stable Tofu
  • Seeds

In addition to being shelf-stable, a few other great things about these plant-based proteins include their versatility, great nutrition and affordability. Keeping these foods, along with a few other common pantry staples, stocked in your pantry means you can create a nutritious meal or snack in no time. One important thing to consider when shopping for groceries on a budget is buying foods that can be used in lots of different ways. Peanut butter is one affordable plant-based source of protein that can be used in many ways, including traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut sauce for noodles or rice, peanut butter granola bars, peanut soup and peanut butter energy bites.

Recipe: 30-Minute Peanut Butter Noodles

Good for the Whole Family: Including Baby

Did you know peanut foods can be introduced to babies as early as 4-6 months to help prevent a potential peanut allergy? Recent guidelines from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease identify the risk factors for developing peanut allergy as having severe eczema or existing egg allergy. For babies with one or both of these conditions, talk to your healthcare professional before introducing peanut foods. Babies without severe eczema or egg allergy can introduce peanut foods starting around 6 months. Two teaspoons of peanut butter thinned with breast milk, formula or water or stirred into infant cereal is a great way to introduce peanut foods. Once introduced, keep peanut foods in the diet often, about three times per week. For other potential allergens, like eggs, introduction should begin at or after six months of age and within the first year of life. Visit for more information.

Recipe: Peanut Butter Oatmeal with Egg 

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