I was recently asked how to make healthy meals with what we have on hand. The answer to that would lie in what to stock up on in the first place.
The following is a list of food items we always make sure we have in our pantry. We highly recommend this list for you too, especially in a pandemic where people are hoarding food and going to the grocery store is harder. These foods are all very nutrient dense (they are packed with protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats and have all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidant properties your body needs to stay strong and healthy) and will give you the most bang for your buck financially as well. From here, you can pretty much make any kind of staple meal.
In a time like now, fresh produce might be the most difficult for people to buy. We try to purchase organic when we can, but right now just getting anything fresh is more important. Please make sure you wash ALL produce before eating. Thank goodness for all the hard working grocery store employees (who are helping more then we know right now) as most bigger stores offer online ordering, pickup or delivery so people don’t have to go in to shop. This list features whole foods that have a longer shelf life so you really can’t go wrong on stocking up a bit.
- Beans– Canned or dried, beans are the ultimate staple food. They are jam packed with nutrients like protein, fiber and carbohydrates, have a long shelf life and are budget friendly. They have virtually endless uses too. We use them as our main ingredient in most dishes but can be added to almost any dish and be a great substitute for meat. You can also bake brownies with them! Dried beans offer the better value, but take a bit longer to prepare since you have to soak them first. We love black, garbanzo, cannellini, pinto to name just a few.
- Lentils– Similar to beans on many levels. They are nutrient dense, can be used in almost any dish and have many, many uses. They are also easy on your wallet. We use red lentils the most because they cook up softer and are perfect for Indian style dishes, which we absolutely love. Brown or green lentils can be cooked or simmered into a soft purée. Black lentils are best for salads, bowls, and stews. Store them in a cool, dark and dry place in airtight containers.
- Whole grains– Rice (all varieties), quinoa, oatmeal, popcorn are our top four go to grains. There are LOTS of other grains to choose from like amaranth, buckwheat, barley, millet, bulgur, maize, rye, teff, triticale, farro to name a few. Whole grains are packed with plant based protein, which most people don’t know, but are also a great source of fiber. They are staples in our diets because they help lower the risk of disease and inflammation and are loaded with lots of other nutrients to keep our immune system strong. People who consume whole grains regularly are shown to live longer, healthier lives.
- Nuts/Seeds– Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, Brazil nuts (one a day for your daily serving of selenium) are what we usually stock. Again, lots of choices, but these are all very nutrient dense and give you your dose of healthy fats. Watch your consumption though, as we recommend to keep fat intake low. Continue reading