Coming home to realize that you don’t have enough to choose from in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to throw together a meal can be very frustrating! Your cupboard is bear and you are already hungry, so the quickest solution is to get take-out or delivery.
By keeping your kitchen stocked with some of the following essentials, you can avoid the frustration and hunger pangs and put a healthy meal or snack on the table in no time.
This isn’t an all-inclusive, full inventory, but rather the things that I keep on hand and reach for almost daily, as they tend to show up in various things that I prepare. Also included are some ideas of what I like to do with each item.
There are of course some staple spices and seasonings that you will want to keep on hand as well to make putting a meal on the table less stressful and more tasty! I’ll have that list for you at a later date, so stay tuned.
Canned goods and shelf stable items:
1. Nut Butter (peanut, almond, etc.)
In my house we go through A LOT of nut butter. The best day ever was a recent find of buy one get one free 40 oz. all-natural peanut butter. We add it to shakes, along with berries, spinach and almond milk or to oatmeal along with fruit. Oftentimes, we have it with an apple for a snack, or smeared atop a rice cake. Finally, there are a few things that I whip up rather frequently which call for nut butter. For example:
2. Nuts (Almonds, walnuts, pecans)
3. Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia, hemp, flax)
4. Dried fruit
I like to add any or all of the above to yogurt, trail mixes, or salads. Other times, I will eat them alone or again there are many recipes to which I add them; including various baked goods and homemade snack bars.
Oats are a must have in any kitchen. If all else fails, there’s always oatmeal for breakfast, lunch or dinner (I have been known to do this)! Load your oatmeal with some of the aforementioned pantry staples and you are in for a real treat that is totally satisfying. Oats are also a great base for lots of homemade baked goods.
6. Sweet potatoes
Bake them, boil them, roast them, mash them, puree them. Don't care for them solo? Sweet potatoes can also be well hidden in baked goods from scones, to muffins, to cookies!
Keeping these pantry staples on hand allows you to have at your disposal key ingredients to round out your meal and provide sustenance. Meat and vegetables are great for lunch or dinner, but if that is all that is prepared, you may feel hungry within an hour or two. Add one of these protein filled starches to keep you satisfied a little longer.
9. Canned Beans
If you find yourself in a pinch without any meat sources of protein, don’t regularly consume meat protein, or just want to have a meatless meal, beans are an excellent alternative. Rice, beans and veggies combine for a delicious, satisfying meal. Alternatively, throw them into a crock-pot or slow cooker alongside a combination of some other ingredients for a soup or stew.
10. Canned tomatoes
It can be difficult to keep fresh tomatoes on hand at just the desired ripeness. This is when canned tomatoes come in handy. They can be added to an array of one-pot dishes, soups and stews.
11. Frozen berries
Another item that is hard to keep on hand fresh, due to a short shelf life or seasonality is berries. I keep these in bulk in the freezer to add to smoothies, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, muffins, and more.
12. Frozen vegetables
Keeping a stash of vegetables in your freezer can pull you out of an emergency situation when you find you have nothing fresh on hand. I always keep chopped onions, green peppers and usually also a couple of other choices... an oriental blend (great for stir frys), cauliflower, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts.
13. Frozen poultry, beef and seafood
Fill your freezer with some of the meats that you prepare most often to eliminate unplanned extra trips to the store when you discover you have nothing in the refrigerator and a meatless meal just won't do. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a freezer staple at my house.
Of course they are great for breakfast, or breakfast for dinner! You’ll also want to keep them on hand for recipes.
Avocado may not be a staple in every household, but it sure is in mine. However, it is something I find myself having to pick up a couple of times a week if I want to have them at the perfect ripeness. I generally add them to salads several times a week and believe it or not you can find some recipes to sneak mashed avocado in. Peanut Butter Avocado Cookies
And let’s not forget guacamole!
Apples have a longer shelf life than most fruits, so it is easier to keep them on hand. They are a great snack while at home or on the go. I tend to always have one in my purse when headed out of the house. While at home, as mentioned above, we like to have apples with nut butter.
17. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt can be a great high protein snack, or a quick breakfast. I always add fruits, nuts, and sometimes chia seeds, flax, hemp or pumpkin seeds.
Let me know, what are some of your kitchen staples for healthy eating?