I hear this question daily. While I am working on compiling my information into an easy to access e-book, I am going to start with posts like this. I want to help you answer the big questions and figure out how to succeed in kitchen first, because that is where your hard work will pay off or fizzle out.
Let’s talk Pantry Staples.
My pantry does not look nearly as good as I want it to, but I am being honest here and letting you in on a little secret. I am not prefect. I make mistakes, eat bad food, buy processed junk, and feed my kid things that make my stomach turn. There are so many variables that will affect your meal planning and prep schedule. They will change daily, weekly, and you have to figure out how to go with the flow. In order to plan for success, you have to plan for the days you are going to fail as well.
Meal planning takes the guess work out of meals. Ball games, family emergencies, unexpected travel, sickness, long work days, these are all things that will affect your eating habits. If you have planned your meals and prepared them a head of time, nutrition will always be a place you can find success. It will begin to balance out all the crazy and start to make your life so much easier. It just takes a little bit of work. Everything worth doing takes work. You work out in the gym for hours, why not your kitchen? The gym is only a small portion of your work toward a healthy lifestyle. Food will determine how long it takes you to succeed or fail. Nutrition is 70% of this, with exercise coming at 30%. Think about that the next time you don’t feel like cooking.
My top five pantry staples:
Flour and Oats
I can do anything with some flour, chemical leavening, and fat. Being a baker, I always like to have at least three types of flour in the house so I can bake something when I am in a rush or happen to run out. All-purpose flour is a big staple in our house. I buy huge bags of it and transfer them to a glass jar. The jar helps me see when I am running low and need to re-supply. It also lets me know how much I have so I can figure out what recipes I can prepare. We make pizza dough, cookies, crackers, play-dough, muffins, breads, and rolls with this flour. I can’t survive without it. Whole-wheat and whole-wheat pastry flours are next. I always keep these in the pantry right next to the all-purpose. You can add them to anything, they are better for you than all-purpose, and a good substitute in recipes that use all-purpose. Whole-wheat pastry flour is used in recipes where I want the whole grains but want to achieve a lighter texture. It is great for cakes and pastries and still yields a light, fluffy texture. I also keep rolled and quick oats in the pantry at all times. We use packet oats for a quick breakfast, quick or rolled for cooking, baking, granola, trail mix, and anything else we can think of. They are so good for you, keep them around and use them whenever you can.
Dried Fruit and Berries
Yes, dried fruit is a pantry staple. I keep dates, pineapple, goji berries, mango, raisins, cranberries, and anything else I like. I always keep dates in the pantry so I can use them as a natural sweetener and sugar alternative. They also provide a great base for bars and bites so they stick together. The other fruits and berries can be used in granola, bars, protein bites, eaten as snacks, or mixed in with yogurt.
Nuts, and nut butters
You will always find almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, chia seeds, hemp hearts, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, peanut butter, almond butter, and sun butter in my pantry. We eat them daily. You can add them to anything, they provide healthy fats, and additional fiber which keeps you full.
My son and I don’t drink milk. I stopped drinking milk years ago, and my son has never had cow milk. We won’t get into the reason why, but I will tell you why we keep milk in our pantry. I buy nut milks and they come in a tetra pack. They keep longer, store easily, and take up less space. We use cashew milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and occasionally rice milk. I cook with almond and coconut milk, and always use them as a substitute for regular milk. I like the texture and flavor better and they have a lot less calories as well. Cashew milk is just delicious, and I add it to my granola and smoothies.
Beans and Legumes
I keep a lot of canned beans in our pantry. We usually have chickpeas, cannelini beans, black beans, kidney, triple bean mix, and I used to keep lentils in our pantry as well. I use beans for salads, quesadillas, chili and soups, side dishes, wraps, hummus, sautes, and so many other things. They are so versatile and so good for you.
Those are my top five, and as you can see I also keep pastas, cereals, chips, wraps, pasta sauce, rice cakes, crackers, bread, and other snacks in our pantry as well. I chose those five categories listed above for a reason; you can use them in everything. With those foods I can create complete meals, with the exception of produce, and feed my family quality meals. I can do so many things with each category, and when I put them together the possibilities only grow.
Food excites me! The idea of setting goals and figuring out foods that will help me reach them makes me genuinely happy. I want to help you figure out what kind of HEALTHY foods do that for you and your family. There are so many options out there and many ways to create quick, healthy meals for your family. You have to plan. You have to prepare. You cannot just go to the store and grab a bunch of stuff and think you’ll figure it out.
You will get overwhelmed, frustrated, and busy. Everyone is busy, and it never slows down or gets easier. Don’t settle for fast-food or processed snacks that don’t provide nutritional value. Find foods that nourish your body and help you thrive. I am going to continue to dig more deeply into the world of meal prep, and if you need help please email me!
I want to help you. I will be talking about how to set up your budget and figure out how to put your list together in the next few posts, so stick around.