Nothing better than a nutritious meal to power you through the toughest days, right? But if you find yourself giving up on the idea of cooking one because you don’t have the ingredients and the grocery store is just too much of an adventure when you can’t leave your kids with anyone else, you might find that a better stocked kitchen is the solution to all your problems. So here’s a list of foods that will make your life easier if you have them at home:
Choose your favorites. They’re cheap, you can store them dried and if you keep them away from moisture you don’t have to worry about them going bad. They’re packed with protein and fiber, which is guaranteed to keep you full and energized. If you want to save time on cooking, purchase them canned.
Nuts and seeds
Have them on their own as a snack, or add them to your breakfast cereal to boost the nutritional profile. A diet containing a variety of nuts and seeds will provide you with minerals, vitamins and
healthy fats. Choose the less processed versions and mind the salt content in the store-bought snack packs.
Olive oil & Apple Cider Vinegar
You can easily whip these two together in a 3:1 ratio for a quick salad dressing. Olive oil is full of good-for-you monounsaturated fats and you can use it in any cooking process, of course in
moderation (deep frying in olive oil won’t be a health miracle). Vinegar is also known to have plenty ofbenefits – from lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels to contributing to weight loss and improving heart health.
For those of us with a sweet tooth, honey is a healthy alternative to the omnipresent sugar. It’s rich in antioxidants, and, perhaps most importantly for all mommies out there, it can suppress coughing and improve sleep for children – it’s a natural and safe remedy for symptoms of upper respiratory infections. It will also last for a very long time, so you can buy it in larger quantities and not worry about it on every shopping trip.
Eggs are perfect for a quick snack, breakfast, lunch, dinner… You get the idea. You can boil a bunch of them every few days and store them in the fridge for those grab-and-go meals. They will go great in sandwiches and salads, or just by themselves for a kick of protein.
Garlic & Onions
It’s unlikely you will be using these by themselves, unless you’re a huge fan of onion soup, but they’re the base of many recipes.
Potatoes & Carrots
Potatoes and carrots are incredibly easy to prepare. Use them in a soup, or as a quick roasted side dish, with minimal effort.
Fruit (fresh, frozen, canned, dried)
There’s no need to discuss the many health benefits of fruit. The easiest to use and most versatile? Bananas and berries. You can find fresh bananas all year round, and berries are easy to store in your freezer.
Not all leafy greens share the same properties, but eating a variety of them will provide you with plenty of fiber and nutrients. They’re a great base for salads, and you can add them to smoothies,
sandwiches, pasta, soups or stir fries.
Greek yoghurt is packed with protein and calcium. To take full advantage of its benefits, look at the label: it should not contain thickening agents, protein concentrate, starch or sugars. Plain Greek yoghurt will make an excellent substitution for mayonnaise. If you prefer the flavored varieties, you can make your own by adding berries, or combine it with nuts for a fiber boost.
Whole grains (oats, quinoa, rice etc.) and whole grain products (cereal, bread, pasta)
Although gluten-free is the latest diet fad, if you don’t suffer from celiac disease, whole grains are actually good for you. They contain a variety of protein, vitamins, and minerals alongside fiber and plant-based protein, so make sure you include them in your diet.
You’re more likely to prefer the food you cook over unhealthy options if it tastes nice. Find your favorite spice combinations and keep them in your pantry.
Don’t limit the use of tomato paste to tomato sauces. It can add a wonderful layer of flavor to most foods and it has a higher concentration of lycopene – a naturally occurring chemical with antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties.
Meat, fish and dairy
These depend more on your dietary choices, and they’re not items you want to store for a long time (although they will last a lot more when frozen). If you don’t have any restrictions, include these in moderation in your diet and remember to pair them with plenty of vegetables.
Make your own broth or buy it from a store (choose a low sodium variety with no added sugar or caramel coloring). You can use it in soups, stews, curries etc. as a flavorful alternative to plain water.
Coffee & tea
If you reach for your cup of coffee first thing in the morning, this one might be obvious. Both coffee and tea provide health benefits, especially if you don’t add a mountain of sugar/sweetener. If you seek sweetness, try to find a natural alternative, like honey. You might find it useful to keep in your pantry some teas that help fight off common ailments (colds, stomach bugs, anxiety, sleeplessness etc.)
Bonus: Sweets and Snacks
Yes, it’s not healthy to have too many. Yes, it’s better to make your own. But for the sake of variety and peace of mind, allow yourself to indulge every now and then. Choose healthy options whenever possible and you won’t feel guilty if you reach for a piece of chocolate… or two!