We’ve all had those weeks where we’re ordering more takeout than cooking. Maybe that’s every week for you, I’m not judging. I would also assume that we all have the goal to cook more healthy meals at home! For Chris and I it comes down to each having a handful of recipes in our repertoire and keeping some staple ingredients on hand so that we can throw something together even when we’re already past the hangry stage.
Kitchen Staple Foods – Why You Need Them
The first step in cooking more at home is having a handful of go-to items or meals that you keep going back to. You know, the ones you pretty much buy every time you go to the grocery store? I love trying new items and products but having my staple items for breakfasts and dinner meals is crucial.
You’re probably already imagining what this is for you; maybe eggs, oatmeal, sweet potato, bananas? Whatever it is, as an adult navigating feeding ourselves, step one is to keep these staples on hand!
There’s nothing worse than going into the fridge and realizing you don’t have a key ingredient you need, OR you have a bunch of ingredients but nothing that really goes together. It’s like when you shop for clothes and the online order comes with 3 new pieces but you don’t have any tops to pair with the green polka dotted jeans you got…
Moral of the story here is keep your staples on hand. I’m going to take your through ours and why we love them. Bear with me because these items might seem boring at first glance but it’s the versatility we’re going for here!
5 Fresh Foods We Always Keep on Hand
Chicken is definitely the protein we eat the most frequently. I sometimes pick up a full roasted chicken and we enjoy the dark meat at dinner and save the white for sandwiches and salads. Trader Joe’s Lemon Rosemary Spatchcock Chicken is one of our EASY faves. More often though we’re cooking chicken breasts in the oven or Instantpot.
As far as protein goes, doing a batch of boiled eggs is great too! Take the extra 5 minutes to peel them while they are cooling down – it’ll help the shell come off better AND you are more likely to eat them since they are 100% ready to go.
Let’s be honest, we know a dark leafy green contains way more vitamins than plain only lettuce. Options would be kale, arugula, spinach, chard etc. We both like spinach in salads and it’s so easy to add to almost any dish in the last few minutes of cooking. We toss it into smoothies, stir frys, curries, anything! Dark leafy greens are high in antioxidants and spinach specifically has you covered for Vitamins A and K. Vit A and K are fat soluble so pairing it with a fat such as an olive oil based dressing, avocado on your sandwich, or a nut butter in your smoothie with help with the absorption.
Quinoa and Brown Rice
We love to have a quick grain prepped and ready as well – for us it’s brown rice or quinoa. Both are gluten free if that’s something you subscribe too. Brown rice is a whole grain and because it keeps that outer ‘brown’ layer it also has more B vitamins and a bit of extra fiber as opposed to white rice. It’s a great grain additive for a fruity salad, in the summer.
Quinoa is awesome because it’s a high protein grain which really takes to any seasoning you put on it. Make sure you rinse your quinoa before cooking it to avoid that bitter taste. The bitterness comes from something called saponins which the plant produces to keep away insects! Crisp it up on the stove and add to a salad or bowl!
Fresh and Frozen Veggies
Taking the extra step to prep vegetables goes a long way. We always have fresh and frozen veggies. They have almost the exact same nutrient value so don’t be turned off by frozen. I think it’s more about cooking them in a way you like. We are partial to broccoli, carrots and mushrooms when it comes to fresh vegetables. I also love brussel sprouts, peppers, and green beans! Sautée, roast or enjoy raw with hummus or a greek yogurt based vegetable dip! I just ordered a new pan from Amazon that “grills” veggies perfectly!
This is a high fiber bread made by allowing the grains to sprout. Ezekiel is much higher in nutrients than your regular loaf of white for a few reasons. From one it’s made from multiple grains, not just wheat flour like most breads, so you get a wide variety of vitamins. Sprouting the grains also increases the benefits. Ezekiel bread also contains legumes which increase the protein and fibre content. There is no added sugar (most breads don’t have unless you’re getting a sweeter bread product). Lastly, the Iron and calcium content is high while it being a vegan product, so no eggs, dairy or milk if that’s important for you! We load up ezekiel bread with avocado or peanut butter and banana. Add Everything-But-The-Bagel seasoning to the top of your avocado toast, it’s amazing!
Why Perfect Your At Home Cooking Routine?
Bottom line is that if I know there is something prepped at home, or something I can easily throw together I’m less likely to pick something up on my drive back. Sorry Sweet Green, not today!
Chris and I take turns both cooking and picking up the groceries. We are both pretty in tune which eat other’s likes, dislikes, and habits at this point. Having that is huge for us and it really helps with the flow of our kitchen time and meals.
Aside from meal staples other things to consider would be healthy snacks! Both of us are often packing lunches. I love to throw in a Rise Bar or Perfect Bar, mixed nuts or a trail mix with dried fruit, greek yogurt, chia seed pudding, or bananas/apples. At home we love eating popcorn for a snack too! Lesser Evil coconut oil with Himalayan salt is my fave!
Having your staple foods, healthy snacks, and some non-perishables will go a long way during your week. It saves time at every meal and saves money that might otherwise be spent on food or delivery.
What are your staples? Do we have any that overlap??