As a great follow-up to our last post, here are 14 food items with which you should consider stocking your freezer and pantry so you can have a quick, healthy meal (or at least healthier because it’s homemade!) at a moment’s notice. Check out what guest blogger, Stephanie Lynch, suggests you buy on your next shopping trip.
When it comes to cooking a meal, you’re going to find that a majority of your dishes will need the same ingredients over and over again. There’s nothing worse than going to your pantry and finding out you’re out of the said ingredient.
To help prepare you for future recipes and save you the frustration of not being able to cook a recipe you found on the Internet, here are 14 healthy ingredients your household should have:
Make sure that you have a variety of beans. This can include black, kidney, pinto, chick peas and lentils. If you’re a big fan of cooking Mexican food, beans are almost always there. (Editor’s Note: Dried beans last forever so it’s always good to stock these, but they also need to be soaked overnight before cooking them. For unplanned meals, always have a few varieties of canned ready, and don’t forget to rinse your beans.)
Like beans, rice can come in many forms. With most recipes, brown, long-grain and mixes tend to be the most popular. When cooking with rice, try to avoid white rice because of the high carbohydrate content.
There’s nothing more simple than cooking with pasta. When buying pasta, however, always make sure that you stick to the whole-grains. Popular types of pastas found in most healthy pantries include: fettuccini, penne, spaghetti and bowtie.
#4 Canned Tomatoes (or even better, frozen, if you can swing it!)
If you don’t have the time to process your own tomatoes or can them, don’t fret. Thankfully, grocery stores have healthy alternatives. Canned tomatoes can be more than just boring tomatoes. Other varieties can include diced, seasoned and sun-dried. (Editor’s Note: many companies offer sodium-reduced canned tomatoes, but if you can find the time and forethought during tomato season, try freezing fresh garden tomatoes to have on hand.)
#5 Frozen Vegetables
Any health advocate will tell you that a vegetable should go with every meal. However, again, if you don’t have the time to cook up your own vegetables from the garden, consider a quicker alternative such as frozen, packaged vegetables. (Editor’s Note: Like tomatoes, though, freezing fresh garden varieties during the harvest season is a far healthier alternative than relying on what companies provide.)
#6 Peanut Butter
Try to stick to the all-natural peanut butter brands. Peanut butter can go great on celery, in a dessert or as a side condiment for other vegetables or fruit.
Vinegar is a very popular ingredient that gives a lot flavor to many dishes. Aside from your basic white vinegar (which has no real nutritional value), consider other options like cider, red and even white wine. Don’t forget that vinegar can also make a fantastic cleaner for around the house.
#8 Herbs and Spices
When it comes to herbs and spices, the list is too long to list. Instead, it’s recommended that you purchase a spice rack from a local department or grocery store. 99 percent of the time, all the spices you will need will be on this rack. If you find a spice that isn’t on the rack you’re looking to buy, consider getting one that offers extra empty bottles that you can label and fill with your own.
Cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, grape seed oil, canola and peanut oil is ideal for both ingredients and preventing a pot or pan from sticking.
Today, it’s fairly easy to find organic broths in the local grocery store. Aside from broths, also look for your favorite soup in a dry form. Broths are great for soups, toppings and even as a substitute for water when making mashed potatoes. (Editor’s Note: although companies are getting a little better with keeping the preservatives low in their products, making your own broth and freezing it is an even healthier alternative.)
#11 Sauces (frozen if possible)
Pasta and pizza sauce tend to be a popular choice when it comes to last-minute meals. If you’re following the advice of this list, the pasta sauce obviously goes great with the pasta, while the pizza sauce could go well with a homemade dough, topped with your favorite toppings. (Editor’s Note: Of course, like the previous ingredients, it’s even more healthy if you can manage making homemade tomato sauce during the harvest and freezing it when you’re ready to use.)
#12 Flax Seed
This glossy little seed is great to sprinkle on just about any dish. Since this seed has little flavor, it’s more ideal for the health benefits. Flax seeds are packed with a large amount of omega-3 fatty acid and fiber.
Couscous, orzo, cornmeal and bread crumbs are some of the popular grains that you will often find in many recipes sprawled across the web.
#14 Dried (some canned) Fruit
Lastly, consider stocking your pantry with dried and canned fruits, such as applesauce and dried apples. Like the canned tomatoes and beans, this is a quick way to dish up a quick serving of fruit.
(Final Editor’s Note to this Post: Anything canned is high in preservatives (even the reduced ones!) that when consumed throw our blood sugar and over time, hormones, out of whack. Please use these suggestions when you’re in a real bind rather than rely on their convenience!)
About the Author
Stephanie Lynch is from the website http://www.howmuchisit.org, a resource that helps consumers find out what things cost in life. The next time you need to know what something costs, be sure to keep her resource in mind.
Between this post and the last one here on Live Lighter, you now have 24 must-have ingredients to stock in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Do you have a staple we missed? Which one and why?