Kidney Diet Tips

Tips and Recipes for an Extended Stay at Home

During an emergency, such as a natural disaster or global pandemic, there may be limited access to essential items, including groceries. In these situations, it helps to have your pantry, refrigerator and freezer stocked with what you need to make a healthy kidney-friendly meal. Being prepared can help lessen the stress and anxiety you and your loved ones may feel during times like this.

Making sure you have healthy foods in your home can also help prevent abnormal blood test results, like high potassium or high phosphorus. Here are some tips on preparing for an emergency. Also, there are recipes that use shelf-stable and pantry items, as well as what’s stocked in your refrigerator.

Extended Home Stay Tips

  • Keep a two-week supply of shelf-stable foods, if possible – This will come in handy if you or a loved one is unable to shop for groceries for a prolonged period of time due to illness or natural disaster. Try to keep a variety of kidney-friendly frozen, non-perishable and pantry items stocked. For more tips and a sample meal plan, read “Pantry Tips for Extended Home Stays” on
  • Practice proper food handling – Wash your vegetables and fruit thoroughly before eating to ensure that dirt and other particles are not present. Also, be sure to look for expiration dates on perishable items (meats, dairy, prepared foods, etc.) and use or dispose of items in a timely manner.
  • Ask a friend or caregiver to go grocery shopping for you – In case of a quarantine situation, a lower risk person who practices safe distance and hand sanitizing could do the shopping. This can help protect you and the general public. Try online grocery shopping – Many stores now have online grocery shopping that makes your groceries available for delivery or limited contact pick up at the store. Check with your local grocery stores or dietitian to find out more. Some popular grocery delivery options are Fresh Direct, PeaPod®, Instacart and Amazon Fresh.
  • Talk to your Dietitian or Social Worker– If you are struggling with getting your groceries or are having difficulty getting access to food, talk to your dietitian or social worker. They can help you find meal assistance programs, local food pantries or grocery stores in your area.

Kitchen Essentials in Case of an Emergency

  • Pantry Essentials
    • Canned or sealed fruits and vegetables – Apples, pears, pineapple, fruit cocktail, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms and corn are just a few options. When choosing canned fruits, be sure to check the label. If you are limiting sugar, look for fruit packed in its own juice or water. If you are looking to add calories, look for fruit packed in syrup. When choosing canned vegetables, look for low-sodium or no-salt added options. If you cannot find those options, rinse under cold water or boil the canned food item before eating.
    • Breads, pasta, rice, cereals and other starches – Bagels, white rice, white bread, rye bread, sourdough bread, pasta, English muffins, flour tortillas, dinner rolls, dry cereals like Cornflakes®, Chex®, Kix®, and hot cereals like cream of wheat. These options can be a great sources of carbohydrates in a kidney-friendly meal. Be mindful of the phosphate additives present in many packaged foods. Read the Nutrition Facts and ingredient list on the label.
    • Meats and other protein – Canned meats like chicken, tuna, turkey, etc. can come in handy in case of an emergency or if the power goes out. Look for low-sodium or no-salt added options if possible. If in a situation where your home does not lose power, check out some more kidney-friendly meat and protein options in the next section. Meats and eggs are great high protein foods, which is recommended for a kidney diet for those on dialysis.
    • Snacks – Animal crackers, vanilla wafers, low sodium crackers, cakes, cookies, rice cereal bars, fruit snacks and unsalted pretzels are some examples of kidney-friendly snacks. Again, be sure to read the label.
    • Oils and Spices – Try to keep a supply of salt-free or low sodium seasonings as well as olive oil or canola oil to make your food flavorful and easy to cook. Having mayonnaise or salad dressing on hand to make sandwiches and salads moist and flavorful is also recommended.
  • Refrigerator and Freezer Essentials
    • Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables – Apples, berries, cherries, grapes, lemons, limes, pears, pineapple, plums, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, celery, lettuce, carrots, onions and cucumbers. Don’t forget to wash fresh items before eating!
    • Dairy products – Milk (limit to 1/2 cup daily), rice or almond milk (unenriched), cottage cheese (limit to 1/4 cup daily), butter, cream cheese, sour cream and creamer (read label for phosphate additives). Be sure to read the label for expiration dates.
    • Meats and protein foods – Beef, chicken breasts, rotisserie chicken, beef or pork tenderloin, pork chop, salmon, trout, tuna, turkey, eggs, egg whites and tofu. Practice proper food safety and handling to avoid cross-contamination.
    • Frozen meals – Many frozen options are high in sodium, which is not recommended for a kidney-friendly diet. Read the label and look for frozen meals or foods that are low in sodium. Aim for 600 mg of sodium or less per meal. Don’t forget to also look at the serving size per container!

In addition to the above tips, read more DaVita dietitian diet and safety tips.

Easy Recipes using Pantry and Refrigerated Items

You may find that you already have pantry, freezer or refrigerator items to make these easy recipes:


Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                      

Diet and Nutrition Videos

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Kellsey Reed RDN, LDN

Kellsey Reed RDN, LDN

Kellsey Reed RDN, LDN has been a dietitian for three years, working in the acute-care, long-term care, and dialysis settings. She is a Philadelphia-based dietitian who loves to travel, bake, and spend time with her two cats Chia and Mr. Flax. Kellsey has a passion for helping others learn more about all things nutrition-related!