Kidney Diet Tips

What’s in Your Pantry? Kidney-friendly Ingredients

In my last blog I discussed essential must-have ingredients in a renal-friendly refrigerator. Now let’s get into the pantry to help you create incredible home-cooked meals instead of dining out or grabbing take-out meals. Remember, planning and preparation is the key to successful eating.

  • Canned fruits:  Fruit packed in syrup if you’re looking for adding calories is a good choice. If you have diabetes, select fruit packed in its own juice, then drain it before eating. Applesauce is always great to have on hand. For lower potassium pantry staples, avoid fruit cups that contain higher potassium fruits like mango, papaya or bananas.
  • Canned vegetables:  Look for low-sodium or no salt added vegetables.  Hint:  If low sodium versions are not available in your area, you can take regular canned vegetables and drain them under cold water for 1 minute to remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the sodium. Vegetables to limit in frequency and portion size due to higher phosphorus and/or potassium include corn, beans, pumpkin, spinach, tomatoes and tomato products.
  • Breads, cereals, starches:  Bagels, bread, couscous, dinner rolls, dry cereals (i.e.  puffed rice, rice/corn Chex, cornflakes), English muffins, flour tortilla – 6 inch, hamburger/hot dog buns, cooked cereals (i.e. grits, cream of wheat, oatmeal), Matzo, small muffin, rice, rice cakes. Compare sodium content and watch out for items with phosphate additives.
  • Condiments:  Ketchup, prepared mustards, apple butter, syrup and honey (sugar-free versions for those with diabetes), mayonnaise, herb-seasoned vinegars, lower sodium jarred pickles and peppers, cooking oils (olive/canola/grape seed), shelf stable dairy alternatives (almond, rice or coconut milks). Check with your dietitian on which brands are best for you.
  • Get a spice rack:  Many people with kidney disease have high blood pressure, so limiting sodium becomes very important to control blood pressure. Replace the salt shaker and invest in an herb and spice rack for your pantry. Stock it with oregano, thyme, basil, curry powder, salt-free lemon pepper, Cajun seasonings or other herb and spice blends. Check the nutrition label for products with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving. Make sure to check that there are no potassium chloride additives that may cause high potassium levels which may be harmful to the heart.
  • Snacks and sweets:  Animal crackers, sugar-free gum/mints, cakes, cookies, sugar-free gelatin, popcorn, rice cakes, unsalted pretzels, rice cereal bars, low sodium butter crackers, fig bars. High sugar snacks should be consumed with caution, especially for people with diabetes.  Avoid sweets made with chocolate, caramel and nuts which tend to be high in phosphorus.

Try these quick, easy recipes, including my favorite one for making homemade salad dressing instead of purchasing off the shelf.

* Chicken and Apple Curryvinaigrettebalsamichoney_0591-small

* Easy Honey Mustard Balsamic Vinaigrette

* Honey Chive Dressing

* Apple Cinnamon French Toast Strata

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.

Takako Lee, RD

Takako has been a registered dietitian for 13 years and enjoys educating people about nutrition. She loves spending time with her husband and two children. She also has interest in kickboxing, hiking, and traveling places to try new foods.