Have you ever gone into a supermarket thinking you’re gonna do some kick-ass shopping, and become an Iron Chef of your kitchen, only to return home with some Cheez-Its and ice-cream and resorting to – yet again – a take-out menu?
You are not alone.
Supermarkets are large, intimidating places with lots of distractions. It’s no wonder most of us have no idea h0w to navigate them! When going into a store, the most important thing is to have a plan – to know exactly what you need and what you don’t. Here are my top nine fridge and pantry staples to have on hand. These ingredients will allow you to prepare quick, nutritious meals whenever necessary.
1.) Vegetables and fruits: I mean, duh. These contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, which aid digestion and help prevent disease. Try to incorporate some into every meal and rotate the cast of characters, as every vegetable and fruit contains benefits that others don’t. Vegetables are the most nutritious when raw, but are also great if lightly stir-fried or roasted.
2.) Beans, chick peas and/or lentils: These contain high levels of protein and fiber, which make them very filling and the ideal substitute for meat. They are also extremely versatile – breakfast hash, sandwiches, stews, pilafs, pasta – the possibilities are truly endless. Tip: Should you buy the canned versions, be sure to drain and rinse them before consuming, which eliminates 40% of the sodium.
3.) Quinoa and/or brown rice: Quinoa is known as a superfood for its high protein and fiber content (see the pattern here?), and for being gluten-free. It’s great and you should eat it. If white rice is a regular part of your diet, replace it with brown. When the outer layers of brown rice are removed, white rice remains. Significant amounts of magnesium, fiber and vitamins are lost in the process. Therefore, brown rice is highly more nutritious and has a chewier, denser texture that I personally find more palatable.
4.) Herbs and spices: Not only do most of these have a year-long shelf life and are great for seasoning your food, but they are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouses, too! Rosemary, thyme, turmeric (the stuff that makes curry powder yellow), ginger and cinnamon are the mega stars of this category.
5.) Lemons: Firstly, they’re dirt cheap. Secondly, they’re great for flavoring water, dressing salads and adding a bit of acidity to dishes of all kinds. They’re also highly alkaline, which makes them anti-inflammatory as well. And, when necessary, they go great with vodka.
6.) Almond milk: I recently made the change from dairy to almond milk and don’t see myself ever turning back. It’s tastier, and awesome in cereal, oatmeal, coffee and smoothies. And, there aren’t any of those antibiotics or hormones that are found in regular milk. If you’re not convinced yet, did you know that dairy is one of the proven causes of acne?
7.) Nuts and dried fruit: Nuts provide necessary heart-healthy fats and dried fruit are full of fiber – together, a snack consisting of the two is great for sustained energy. I keep some in my desk at work at all times.
8.) Avocados: Although these are technically a fruit and I already mentioned those, avocados belong in their own category. Like nuts, they are full of heart-healthy fats and other nutrients. Furthermore, they are the basis of guacamole, and do a great job of adding creaminess and bulk to sandwiches and salads.
9.) Dark chocolate: Although high in calories, this item is a potent antioxidant and it satisfies the sweet tooth in a healthy way. To me, milk chocolate is obviously the tastier one, but all that’s good for is cellulite. Dark chocolate can be bitter and borderline sour, but there are great brands out there – be sure to find one that suits you.
You may have noticed that all of the above are vegan foods, and it’s no coincidence. I have been rethinking some of my food choices lately and trying to educate myself, and I’ve come to know that meat and dairy are not really ever healthy – even if organic, hormone-free or low-fat. I know, I know – this may seem really hypocritical coming from a renown pork addict, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with trying to eat better. More on this subject later…
So what are some of your pantry staples?