No doubt you have ALL heard the “no processed or packaged” foods statements out there. Or, “avoid the inner aisles of the grocery store” recommendations. Remember, I’m your down-to-earth dietitian. We all have busy lives and go at a frantic pace. Sometimes, short cuts are necessary. Face it, some partially processed foods help us to avoid fast-food drive-thru lanes. Definitely worth it.
Avoiding HIGHLY processed foods packed with sugars, partially hydrogenated oils, and preservatives is certainly a good thing. But, letting the food manufacturers do a little of your prep work will save you time and allow your family to eat healthier.
Here are 10 pantry foods that I keep on hand at all times…
- Canned Beans of ALL Kinds – High in fiber and protein! I always have black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzo beans. Yes, I love my homemade beans with chilies or ham…. but, canned beans are a great quick alternative. Salads or wraps for lunch. Burritos or ingredient in skillet dinners. Highly recommend beans!
- Vegetable Broth – I like the reduced sodium, organic variety in quart-size boxes. Super flavorful, ready to go for soups. Definite necessity!
- Popcorn Kernels – My favorite simple snack! Did you know you can pop these in a paper lunch bag, little drizzle of olive oil, in the microwave for about 2-1/2 minutes?! I buy the jumbo container at Costco.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes – Just like the beans, these are such a time saver when it comes to soups, sauces or skillet meals.
- Brown Rice – The dried version tastes so much better than the quick minute-rice variety. Yes, the cooking time is longer. If you will be serving a rice-based dinner during the week, just cook up your rice over the weekend. Cooked rice keeps well in the fridge or freezer.
- Whole Wheat Pasta – Such a quick weeknight meal option! Pasta gets a bad rap lately with the low-carb craze. Remember, portion control! Whole wheat pasta with fiber helps your gut, fills you up, and is super versatile.
- Almond Butter – Quick lunches and breakfasts are so much simpler with this staple!
- Lentils – Because they cook quickly, red and brown lentils lend a fiber/protein-packed addition to your weeknight meals. Try in soups, tacos, salads…. options are endless!
- Albacore Tuna – Super high in protein! Highly recommend the low sodium version, packed in water for a satisfying lunch.
- Light Coconut Milk – Turn ordinary chowders or stir-fry into unique knock-off take-out Asian delicious-ness! I prefer the light version, as it’s not so heavy and rich, but still packs the tasty coconut flavor.
There you have it! What is your go-to pantry staple?
Stay tuned for essential freezer foods for short-cuts, coming soon!