Fresh food is great, but it’s not always possible to run to the store after a hectic workday. It’s a good idea to keep a well-stocked pantry so you can whip up something quick and healthy when hunger strikes.
Here are 4 pantry staples to always have on hand.
1. Beans. Whether you go for dried or canned, beans are a budget-friendly, nutritious, and versatile food. Beans are a great source of fiber and protein (1 cup of beans has about 15 grams of protein). Which bean is best you ask? From a nutrition standpoint, they are all very similar. Buy the type that tastes the best to you as long as it’s not filled with added sugar (cough cough, baked beans). You can use beans to make a quick vegetarian burrito, eat them with brown rice, or add them to salads for a kick of protein.
2. Chicken or Vegetable Broth. If you have broth, you can make soup. Throw in whatever you have on hand: vegetables, chicken, meat, or noodles. A broth-based soup makes for a light, but comforting meal. If you are watching your sodium intake go for the low sodium broth.
3. Quinoa. Pronounced Keen-wah. You have probably heard of it by now. Quinoa is great because it is one of the only plant foods that is a complete protein (meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids). Quinoa is considered a grain, although it is technically a seed. Due to it’s high protein content it can be eaten as a side dish or an entree. Quinoa can be served cold as a salad, or warm with cheese and vegetables, casserole style.
4. Oatmeal. When all else fails, eat oatmeal. But please, buy original or quick-cooking oats that come in the cylinder box and not those instant packets. The packets are filled with extra sugar and artificial flavors. Add your own flavor with fresh strawberries, bananas, apples and cinnamon. When topped with fruit, nuts, and a splash of milk, oatmeal can transform into a hearty and nutritious meal.
Heather Mason is a Registered Dietitian who holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science. She has a passion for debunking nutrition myths and helping people discover delicious and healthy food. You can read more posts from her on her blog, Nutty Nutrition.