Have you ever lingered in front of the open doors to your refrigerator or pantry and thought, “There’s nothing to eat”? Or come home too late or too tired to feel like making an extravagant meal? Don’t throw in the towel! Healthy eating does not have to be complicated or time consuming. But, to be successful, have these food staples on hand to help build a healthy home environment that can keep you from ordering take out (or calling that pint of ice cream “dinner”).
Food Musts to Have on Hand
Cooking healthy meals and choosing smart snacks is easy when you keep your kitchen stocked with these staples:
Plain Greek yogurt: Six ounces delivers 18 grams of protein – that’s equivalent to 3 eggs! Plus it has probiotics that increase the good gut bacteria and is a good source of calcium for bone health. Mix it with fresh fruit and a handful of walnuts for breakfast. Sub it for mayo or sour cream in recipes for a healthier alternative.
Beans: Dried or canned, beans are inexpensive and a great source of fiber and protein to boot! Puree with olive oil, lemon juice and tahini into a quick hummus to enjoy with carrots or pita chips. Roast in the oven with oil and seasoning to create a crunchy savory snack. Or add to soups, stews, salads, and more.
Quinoa: One of the speediest grains to cook (ready in 15 minutes!), one cup delivers 8 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, as well as a good source of iron and energizing B-vitamins. Serve on as a side, toss in a salad or soup, or build your own greens and grains bowl!
Eggs: In a 2015 study, egg eaters reported greater satiety than those who ate an egg-free breakfast. Hard-boil a bunch at the beginning of the week as a protein-packed snack, or to top your avocado toast or a salad for a meal.
Frozen vegetables: Didn’t have time to stock up on produce this week? Plain frozen veggies (without butter or sauces) like green beans, broccoli, and carrots are a great backup that can be steamed quickly for a simple weeknight side. They also make an easy addition to soups, chilis, and stir fries.
Apples: According to a CDC report, only 1/3 of US adults eat the daily recommended amount of fruit. Apples have a long fridge shelf life, are easy to eat on the go, give crunch to salads, add oomph to oatmeal, and make a delicious dessert when baked.
Air-popped Popcorn: Popcorn is the only snack that is 100% unprocessed whole grain! Make it fresh at home and forego the prepackaged, butter-loaded kind; instead, experiment with new flavors like BBQ or fresh parmesan and dill.
Air-Popped Popcorn – 3 ways!
Makes 2 quarts (4 servings)
¼ cup popcorn kernels
Seasonings to taste (suggested combinations below!)
- Put kernels into medium brown paper bag. Fold the top of the bag twice to seal in kernels.
- Set microwave cook time for 2 ½ minutes. Cook time will vary based on microwave and popcorn kernel moisture content. Add more time if needed. Stop when you hear a one-second pause between pops to avoid burning.
- Toss with seasoning of your choice and shake the bag to coat!
BBQ: 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder
Parmesan Dill: 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp dried dill, ½ tsp salt, 1 Tbsp olive oil
Vegan Cheese: 1 tsp melted coconut oil, 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
Nutrition per 2-cup serving (unseasoned): Cal 62, Fat 1g, Sat fat 0g, Carbs 12g, Sod 1mg, Fib 3g, Sug 0g, Pro 2g