Keep these 15 kitchen staples around as the basis for many easy and healthy meals! Click here for a downloadable, printable version of this blog post!
1. Whole Grain Cereals
Like Shredded Wheat, muesli and rolled oats. Whole grains are naturally high in fiber, helping you feel full and satisfied. Getting more fiber, in combination with lots of water, is also good for your GI health. Cook a batch of rolled oats in water or milk (any type) and it will keep in the fridge for 5 days - just reheat with fruit, nuts/nut butter and an extra splash of milk.
2. Frozen Fish or Shrimp
They are healthy sources of protein and quick to defrost for easy to cook weeknight dinners. Try to include a fatty fish, like salmon, 1-2 times a week for a dose of omega-3s. Here is an easy recipe for frozen salmon.
3. Plain Greek Yogurt
Greek Yogurt is higher in protein than other yogurts. This will help you stay full for longer and can also help with muscle building and recovery. Try adding greek yogurt to baked goods in place of sour cream! Here are some other great uses for greek yogurt.
4. Whole Fruit
Whole fresh fruit is packed with nutrients and fibre. And - no - you do not need to worry about the sugar content in fruit. Portable fruit, like apples, pears and bananas, are a great on-the-go snack paired with some nuts. Aim for 2-3 servings of fruit a day (a serving is about the size of your fist).
5. Canned Fish & Smoked Oysters
These shelf stable pantry staples are great for meals in a pinch. Oysters are an especially good source of zinc, which plays a role in strengthening your immune system, and vitamin B12, which is crucial for healthy blood cells and nerves. Here is a great recipe for salmon cakes. For a simple lunch, try smoked on crackers with a side salad.
Hummus is a great plant-based dip that is easy and cheap to make at home if you have a food processor (or even a decent immersion blender or regular blender could work). This popular Middle Eastern dip is made from chickpeas and is full of vitamins and minerals. Here is a simple recipe.
7. Extra Firm or Smoked Tofu
An inexpensive and ready-to-eat plant based protein that is easy to add to a quick stir fry. I prefer smoked tofu chopped into cubes in cold dishes and pan frying extra firm tofu for warm dishes. Here is one of my favourite tofu recipes: the glory bowl. Make sure to marinate the tofu in the sauce and add extra for pan frying it. Also be sure to press it!
8. Frozen Fruit & Vegetables
Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh! And maybe even more so when eating fruits and vegetables not in season as they are picked at their peak ripeness. Try thawing frozen berries to add to plain yogurt - the extra juices adds some nice flavour and sweetness. Frozen vegetables are also great for a quick stir fry.
9. Pre-washed Salad Greens & Bagged Salads
This is a super convenient way to add more leafy-green vegetables to your diet. Or, wash your own greens to save money. Store them in an airtight container lined with paper towel. Health Canada recommends eating one dark green vegetable everyday! Here is some salad inspo.
10. Rotisserie Chicken
Chopping up cooked chicken is a great sandwich meat alternative to deli meats, which are often packed with preservatives. Use cold as a sandwich meat or serve warm with a salad and a whole grain like quinoa, brown rice or barley.
Whole eggs are a great source of high quality protein and choline, which helps with memory. Keep on hand for quick meals like frittatas and scrambled eggs. Or try this breakfast burrito recipe.
Quinoa is what we call a pseudo grain as it is technically a seed. But you can treat it just like a grain. It cooks quickly in just 15 minutes, is gluten free and high in fibre. Try this quinoa salad recipe.
13. Whole Grain Pasta
This is another quick cooking high fibre grain. Whole grain pasta has a lower glycemic index, meaning that it will take longer to digest and won't spike your blood sugar. Here is a great whole wheat mac and cheese recipe with squash!
14. Canned Beans & Lentils
Canned beans and lentils are a staple in my house. As lentils are quicker to cook from dry, I usually buy more canned beans. Beans and lentils are a great source of protein and phytochemicals. Replacing meat in your diet with beans and lentils a few days a week can also decrease your diets impact on the environment. Especially if you are avoiding red meat. Here is some recipe inspo.
15. Nut Butter
Unlike many other spreads (like jam), seed and nut butters naturally contain healthful fats that benefit heart and overall general health. Just make sure you check the ingredient list! Look for products with 100% nuts or seeds and no added sugar. Also avoid "reduced fat" versions as the fat in nut and seed butters is beneficial for health. My favourite quick snack is sliced apples with peanut butter.