Cooking at home and meal planning are two key components to eating healthy. But sometimes our schedule gets the best of us and we find ourselves without a plan or limited time to cook. Having a kitchen stocked with staple items allows you to put together meals quickly and reduces the need to go out or order food in. So the next time you’re at the grocery store, consider stocking up on these ten staple items.
1. Frozen vegetables
Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh and they are picked at the peak of ripeness for superior taste. Compared to fresh; frozen vegetables are budget friendly, store longer, require less prep, and cook faster. Plus frozen vegetables have come a long way, there is now a variety of options and vegetable blends in the freezer section that spans beyond frozen peas and carrots.
2. Nuts & Nut Butter
A fantastic plant-based protein option filled with healthy unsaturated fat and fibre. Nuts make a great portable snack or add them to yogurt, oatmeal, and salads. Use nut butter as a pancake topper, as a fruit dip, or in a stir fry sauce.
Oatmeal is an easily digested breakfast making it a runners staple. Mix up flavour combinations by adding in different fruits, spices or nuts to keep it interesting. Cooking large batches of oatmeal and reheating throughout the week or making overnight oats saves on prep time. Additionally, oats can be blended into a flour for baking or turned into homemade energy balls or granola bars.
4. Hemp Hearts
Hemp hearts are versatile and perfect for the runner trying to eat more plant-based protein but also meet their increased protein needs. Three tablespoons of hemp hearts contain 10 grams of protein plus as an added bonus, they are a source of Omega-3 fats. Hemp hearts have a mild taste and texture so you can add them to almost anything including oatmeal, yogurt, salads, casseroles, avocado toast, or smoothies. Basically, you name it and hemp hearts will compliment it.
5. Canned Fish
Protein options can take longer to prepare and cook so having canned fish like tuna and salmon on hand provides a quick protein source to balance your plate. Canned fish has a long shelf life and is a cost effective way to increase your weekly fish intake and benefit from the Omega-3s. Add canned fish into salads and whole grains like pasta or rice or create salad sandwiches or fish patties.
6. Dark Chocolate
Satisfaction and enjoyment are important parts of healthy eating. If you’ve got a sweet tooth dark chocolate is a great way to find satisfaction while also receiving benefits from the antioxidants. The bolder taste allows you to feel satisfied with less chocolate compared to milk chocolate. Of course, dark chocolate is great on its own but also makes a great add into homemade trail mix, granola bars, or oatmeal.
7. Plain Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt has a higher protein content than regular yogurt, making it a great addition to your breakfast. Additionally, because yogurt is a fermented food with live active bacterial cultures it can increase bacterial diversity in the gut and keep your gut feeling healthy.
Flavoured yogurts are higher in added sugars. Choosing plain yogurt allows you to sweeten it yourself with fruits, cinnamon, or smaller amounts of sugar options such as maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey. Plain yogurt is also more versatile than flavoured yogurts. Use it to create dips such as tzatziki, as a replacement for mayo or sour cream, as a topper to spicy food, or as a base for creamy pasta sauces.
8. Canned Pulses
Beans, chickpeas, and lentils are loaded with fibre. Fibre slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer which is perfect for managing post-run hunger. Canned pulses are great to have on hand for a quick protein option. They make great add-ins to ground meat dishes like pasta sauces and tacos or as a stand alone option in curries and salads.
9. Whole grains
Don’t fear carbohydrates! Not only are they runner’s best fuel source they also provide satisfaction which is an important component of maintaining a healthy dietary pattern. Whole grain options such as brown rice, quinoa, barley and bulgur make great side dishes or additions to recipes such as chili, stir fries or salads. Some whole grains can take longer to cook. A time saving solution is to batch cook a large portion and use the leftovers throughout the week or freeze for future use.
10. Olive Oil
A little fat can make all the difference. Fat adds flavour to food and slows digestion which helps regulate our blood sugar and hunger. Additionally, by adding olive oils to salads or diced vegetables for roasting you can improve the taste increase your vegetable intake.