I don't know about all of you, but grocery shopping and cooking seem to have been taken to a whole new level at our house lately. A houseful of people and limited trips to the grocery store have made me really evaluate what I stock my pantry with. FYI - I consider my freezer a "frozen" pantry and added some items I also stock there.
Fresh produce is a given at our house but just this past week I noticed that choices were limited at our grocery store and sadly, much of the stuff I purchased was already past its prime. So, here are some items I am trying to keep on hand to help get balanced and tasty meals on the table.
Frozen fruits and veggies are a great option when produce is limited. They are loaded with powerful antioxidants such as Vitamin C that can help support a healthy immune response and are just as nutritious fresh. I love to microwave FROZEN BERRIES until they get soupy and swirl into greek yogurt or toss frozen into a smoothie. Frozen vegetable mixes are great options and a super easy way to volumize your meals with veggies! FROZEN SLICED PEPPERS are a go to for me. They are easy to toss in to soups, stews and stir fries. CANNED FRUITS packed in their own juice (to control sugar) are very shelf stable and an often overlooked pantry staple. My family loves applesauce packets, mandarin oranges and pears.
Whole grains are a high fiber way to switch up carbohydrates at meals.
Oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa, farrow, bean based pasta, buckwheat, millet, 100%whole wheat breads and crackers, popcorn (yes, popcorn is a whole grain) and whole grain cereals.
SIMPLE MILLS brand crackers are a delicious option especially if you are stocking a gluten free pantry at your house.
Short on Time? Opt for frozen grain options (there is that frozen pantry again! ) I always keep a couple bags of frozen brown rice and quinoa in the freezer.
The granola bar aisle at the grocery store can be overwhelming to say the least. Try to stick with bars that have a good balance of wholesome ingredients without too much added sugar. If the pandemic has impacted your digestion or if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), check the label for sugar alcohols, Sucralose, inulin and chickory root, they can be hard to digest and may lead to gas, bloating and diarrhea.
Some of my favorite bars include: Kind, Bob's Red Mill, Luna/Luna Protein, Detour Smart, Nature Valley Protein, Cliff Z Bars and Perfect Bars.
You don't have to be a vegetarian to stock your pantry with beans/legumes. Beans are a high fiber source of plant based protein. Beans can be in the dry or canned form. While canned beans are more convenient they are higher in sodium. Simply rinsing them in a colander with water significantly reduces sodium content. Beans can be added to soups, stews, tacos, quesadillas and so much more. Switch things up: Chick peas, kidney and black beans are the most well known but fava, pinto, black-eyed-peas, cannellini, refried beans, great northern, lima and lentils all are excellent ways to add protein and fiber to your meal.
NUTS/SEEDS and NUT BUTTER
Nuts, nut butters and seeds are a great source of both healthy fat and protein. Having a variety of these items in your pantry allows you to make your own trail mix, toss onto salads and oatmeal and always have a satiating snack on hand between meals. The variety of nut butters has exploded over the last few years and consequently peanut butter is not our only option. Almond, cashew and sun butter are a just a few of the new options you may want to check out.
My family has fallen in love with BARNEY BUTTER, especially the chocolate flavor! (see you later Nutella) The single serving packet is great if portion control becomes an issue. Yes - it is that good!!
NOW FOR SOME FLAVOR
Condiments, Seasonings, Vinegars, Jarred and Canned Staples
Seasonings, spices, tomato sauce, canned, stewed, chopped and pureed tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, salsa, canned pumpkin, vegetable/chicken broths, flavored vinegars and oils and roasted red peppers are just a few examples of pantry staples that can take a meal to the next level.
While you may not be able to find all of these items right now, work on slowly growing your pantry, both frozen and cabinet, so on any given night, you can easily whip together a quick meal.
Stay Healthy Gang!