Some people have to plan their meals so that when they go grocery shopping, they ensure they have everything they will need. Others make special trips for ingredients when they decide they want something special from the kitchen. What we want to encourage you to do is to keep a well-stocked pantry at all times so when inspiration strikes, you are already equipped with everything you will need. Let’s explore the things you should have on hand in the kitchen.
Keep The Flavor
Flavor is important. While the proteins and vegetables you eat are already flavorful, adding other flavors to your dishes can make all the difference to keep your meals from becoming boring and predictable. Here is a list of things you should always have:
- Sugar free syrups– a little sweetness to drinks and desserts without extra sugar
- Vinegar – apple cider, red wine, rice, and balsamic
- Condiments – Dijon mustard, steak sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire are perfect options
Around The World With Spice
Spices can change how a vegetable or protein tastes and many spices are associated with various parts of the world. You can make a basic steak and potatoes dish more exotic with spices from the Mediterranean region or add some heat to your barbecue with spices from Louisiana. Spices are also an excellent way to flavor a dish without adding salt to your diet. A few suggestions we have are:
- Black Pepper
- Red Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Ground Cumin
- Bay Leaves
- Dill weed
- Ground Ginger
Store Plenty of Healthy Fats
Oil has long been a staple for any home but there are some unfortunately unhealthy oils on the market. Do yourself a favor and invest in canola and olive oils for your meals. Olive is perfect for just about any dish except for baking certain cookies and desserts. Canola is a perfect substitute for any recipe calling for vegetable oil or wherever you used vegetable oil previously.
Beans Are Your Best Friend In The Pantry
Beans are a great way to add a little something extra to stews, soups, and salads. They are also a great substitute for meat so that you can have a meatless meal day or cut down on how much meat you have been eating (a popular choice for people wanting to switch to a vegetarian lifestyle). They are packed with protein, lower in saturated fats, and are considerably less expensive. We highly recommend opting for dried beans and processing them. However, if this is not conducive to your lifestyle, look for canned beans that are low in sodium or have not had salt added.
Get Back To Basics With Whole Grains
When it comes to the pantry makeover, you can’t go wrong with keeping basic whole grains on hand. These are your fillers for many dishes and can be nutritious for the balanced diet. A few ideas are:
- Pasta – avoid anything that says enriched on the nutrition label
- Brown Rice
- Barley – great with beans in a soup
- Rolled oats
- Wild Rice
Remember that bulk bins usually have better prices for your whole grains, so do a bit of comparison shopping to make the most of your dollar. Whole grains are important so that you can get enough fiber, B vitamins, and minerals into your diet. If you opt for any grain that has been over-processed, these use the words “enriched” on the nutrition label, those nutritional aspects of the grain have been stripped and then synthetically replaced.
One of the best pieces of advice we have heard is “when you go to the grocery store, go to the left and the right side of the store. Everything else in the middle has no nutritional value for the body”. Stocking your pantry and keeping it stocked will give you plenty of room to enjoy cooking and avoid the middle section of the grocery store.