How often do you decide to have take out food just because you don’t have anything quick to prepare in your house? The key to eating healthier is eating healthier ingredients and meals. Chances are you will eat those healthy ingredients and meals more often if you have them in your home right in your pantry. So planning your grocery shopping is the first step to a healthier diet.
To take the stress out of healthy meal planning we have listed all the basic ingredients you should have in your pantry and fridge. To make it even easier for you we have made you a printable grocery list so you can stock and restock easily.
The whole list is divided into 10 sections. Each section is then further divided into essential ingredients and ingredients that would be nice to have. This way your diet becomes more versatile and it is still very simple to substitute between the essential and nice to have ingredients.
|Essential vegetables|| Nice to have vegetables|
Most of the vegetables from the essential list are in season all year round. Tomatoes (in season: summer), cucumbers (in season: summer), zucchini (in season: summer), broccoli (in season: spring, fall), cauliflower (in season: fall) and green beans (in season: summer) are available during the whole year but much cheaper when in season.
|Essential fruit||Nice to have fruit|
Fruit in the essential list is available all year round. Fruit from the nice to have list is seasonal and should be added to your grocery list when in season. This way you will enrich your diet and be able to enjoy different tastes.
Condiments, sauces, oils and vinegars
|Essential condiments,oils, vinegar||Nice to have condiments, oils, vinegar|
Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat there is. That is one of the few facts nutritionist can agree on. Used for centuries even by the ancient Greeks it’s health benefits have become recognized by experts without any doubt. It is advisable to cook with olive oil as well but if it is to expensive for you try to use some other kind of cold pressed oil like cold pressed sunflower oil. Most of these ingredients can last you quite a long time so it would be a good idea to get most of these ingredients over time since they can transform your meals with a little extra flavor.
Coconut oil has become very popular lately and can be used for cooking and baking. It has a distinct coconut flavor that can add richness to some meals but can be unsuitable for others. Sesame, walnut, and pumpkin seed oils are all rich nutty tasting oils who are great for salad dressings.
Grains, beans, legumes, pasta
|Essential grains, beans, legumes, pasta||Nice to have grains, beans, legumes, pasta|
Grains are essential in most of our diets. It’s best to make them whole-grain. That way you’re eating more healthy fibers and help your digestion. Dried beans are excellent for storage and can be easily prepared if you soak them in water the night before you want to cook them.
Rice and pasta are classical choices but try to replace e.g. rice with quinoa or couscous. Buckwheat is recently becoming more popular since it is a gluten free grain and can be used in groats or as buckwheat flour. Try using it for pancake butter or muffins.
Nuts, seeds, dried fruit
|Essential nuts, seeds and dried fruit||Nice to have nuts, seeds and dried fruit|
Nuts and seeds are amongst the healthiest sources of essential fats and minerals. A handful per day is enough to use for snacking or in salads. Take care not to eat too many nuts per day since most are high in calories as well. The nuts from the essential list are easily found in all stores. Add the different varieties from the nice to have list from time to time to try out new tastes.
Meat, fish, chicken
|Essential meat, fish, chicken||Nice to have meat, fish, chicken|
Meat, fish and chicken are all excellent sources of proteins. The rule here is to buy the leaner cuts and avoid the fatty parts. Try to get meat from organic free range animals if possible. When choosing fish, salmon and tuna are excellent sources of omega -3. Shrimps are great to have when you want to make a quick healthy meal. Buy them fresh and cleaned or even frozen.
|Essential dairy, eggs||Nice to have dairy, eggs|
When possible choose plain organic dairy products since they don’t have additional ingredients added like fruit yogurt or milk desserts. Ricotta cheese is a low fat cheese that can be used as a cream cheese or a base for flavored cheese spread. Just toss some fresh herb into a cup of ricotta cheese and you have a healthy low-fat spreading. Fresh whey is a very good source of protein why many bodybuilders use it in supplement powdered form.
|Essential freezer||Nice to have freezer items|
Frozen fruit and vegetables make it possible to prepare quick and easy meals. It’s great to always have some frozen fruit and vegetables in your freezer since it takes away the stress of planning healthy meals. Always buy frozen vegetables and not frozen meals since the frozen meals have a lot of added ingredients including sugars,trans-fats and additives.
Canned foods and bottled items
|Essential canned foods||Nice to have canned foods|
Canned foods are great because they allow you to quickly prepare a meal. You should always have some of those items in your pantry to make it possible to quickly toss together a healthy meal.
Herbs and spices
|Essential herbs and spices||Nice to have herbs and spices|
Herbs and spices give character and flavor to meals. Try to use fresh herbs whenever possible. The only herb I find better dry then fresh is oregano. A good stocked spice rack will give you the possibility to cook italian, chinese, indian,..
|Essential baking||Nice to have baking|
When you have the ingredients from the essential list handy it will make it possible to make easy meal plans for you and your family without having to compromise your health. Having a well stocked kitchen is the first step to a healthier diet and life. The second is to get rid of all the unhealthy food you have lying around. This way you made the first step to a healthier, leaner, happier you.
Photo credit: Basement Pantry by Chiot’s Run, baking by Tania Ho, Fresh herbs on my balcony by Suzette, Spices by peddhapati, Freezer by francois schnell, Canned by F Delventhal, Nuts by Adam Wyles, by Tony Kwintera, Red Beans by cookbookman17, Condiments by Ana, Fruits by peddhapati, Vegetables at Harrods by Andy Fell