How many times have you gotten home late from work and stood in front of your kitchen cupboard, fridge, or freezer, only to find that you don’t have the ingredients you need to make a healthy, balanced meal? If you stock your kitchen with healthy ingredients that can be used in multiple meals, you will be prepared to make food that is both good and available at a moment’s notice. Consider this your shopping list for more nutritious meals and a leaner you.
[spoiler title=”Summary: Essential Foods to Stock in Your Kitchen” style=”fancy”]
After a long day of work, the last thing you want to do is figure out what to make for dinner when you get home only to find your cupboards bare. Stocking ingredients in your fridge, freezer, and cupboard that you can use to create healthy, balanced meals will help you save time as well as your diet. Look for options like frozen veggies and protein, light snacks, and healthier versions of pastas and oils to get the full health benefits of planning ahead.
What You Need, and Why You Need It
The following selections are great additions to your grocery list to make sure that you have healthy options that pack a powerful, nutritional punch. Here are some foods that you should stock in your kitchen and reasons why you should keep them.
Low GI Cereal
Studies have found that those who start the day with a healthy cereal tend to eat less the rest of the day, and they also tend to make healthier choices for the rest of the day. Make sure you have a low GI cereal available such as bran flakes, oats, oat bran, low GI muesli, or hi fibre bran.
Tuna in Brine or Water
Tuna is an easy, quick, low-fat, and nutritious way to get in enough protein.
Basmati Rice and Pasta
Basmati rice and pasta are quick and easy to prepare when you’ve arrived home from a long day and the last thing you feel like doing is preparing a huge, elaborate meal. Basmati rice has a low GI, making it a healthy option. When it comes to pasta, however, make sure you choose a pasta that it is made from durum wheat as this kind of pasta has a low GI, whereas others have a high GI.
Tinned Tomato & Onion Mix
Tinned tomato and onion mix is high in fibre and a great way to add flavour to a dish without adding extra fat. Put it in soups, stews, or even use it as a sauce for chicken.
Nuts and Dried Fruit
Make your own trail mix by combining mixed, plain, unsalted nuts and chopped dried fruit. Not only is this a quick and portable snack, but it also is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and essential fatty acids. Just be sure to watch your portion size and keep it to a small helping (e.g. a small handful) as it is quite high in calories.
Herbs and Spices
Using herbs and spices is an excellent way to flavour food without adding extra fat or salt.
Eggs are a good source of protein that are easy to prepare and very cost-effective.
Fat-free yogurt is not only a portable and nutritious snack, but also rich in calcium. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and staving off osteoporosis, but calcium has also been found to play a significant role in aiding weight loss.
Flaxseed is the richest vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids, so this is an excellent way to take in this essential nutrient if you are of the herbivorous variety or if you simply don’t like fatty fish.
Always make sure that you have a fresh supply of greens available, so you can whip up a crisp, nutritious salad at short notice. Try to choose a variety of coloured vegetables to make sure you get a variety of nutrients (e.g. red tomatoes, white mushrooms, green peppers, orange carrots). You may find it useful to have a container filled with prepared cut-up veggies for snacks and to make assembling your salad easier.
It’s always useful to have frozen veggies in the freezer because they are quick to prepare, but still have a high nutritional content. Just be sure not to boil them for too long, or else all the goodness will be leached out. Remember that frozen vegetables are actually pre-cooked, so they just need to be steamed or microwaved for a short period of time.
Chicken breasts are an excellent and low-fat source of protein. Be sure to choose the skinless, deboned variety to make certain that you are getting the lowest fat option possible and that you are getting your money’s worth of protein.
“Lite” Ice Cream
There’s nothing wrong with a treat now and then (once or twice a week), but try to make it a healthier one. That’s why a “lite” or low-fat ice-cream is ideal as it still feels like a treat, but won’t blow all the hard work you’ve done.