During the week, sometimes the last thing you want to do is make a clean, home-cooked meal. Between working long hours and finding time to do the things you love, it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to make chicken cacciatore.
When I don’t have a lot of time to make a gourmet “foodie” meal, I have staples that can help me whip up something quick and healthy.
I prefer to eat relatively clean most days and have healthy products stocked in my kitchen. But I’m no stranger to a frozen pizza or a carton of ice cream. Everything in moderation, ya’ll.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll be beginning a new series of how I meal prep and eat every week. I have meal planning down to a science and want to share some helpful tips to make eating healthy every week less stressful for you!
But, easier said than done, right? You might struggle with what to exactly keep in your pantry and fridge. With a little planning and some delicious food combinations, you’ll be cooking from home in no time!
Clean eating fridge & pantry staples:
(NOTE: These are merely just suggestions from my pantry to yours! Obviously, pantry staples will vary depending on if you eat mostly vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free meals.)
- Quinoa (Can be added to almost any dish, sweet or savory. It can be added to salads, fish or chicken, oatmeal, and used as a substitute for rice in many Chinese dishes.)
- Steel-cut oats or regular oats (Yummy in an overnight oats recipe or made in a slow cooker.
- Chia seeds (Use in smoothies, pudding, oatmeal)
- Wheat tortillas (Use for tacos, wraps, mini-snack pizzas)
- Canned goods (When I’m in a hurry, I love to combine fire-roasted tomatoes with grilled chicken and pasta topped with Parmesan.)
- Almonds, chocolate chips, dried cranberries (Good for making your own natural trail mix!)
- Chicken stock (Use for soups, chilis and a great alternative to water when cooking quinoa.)
- Sweet potatoes (My favorite rooted vegetable. Chop up, toss in olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and cook at 350° for 30 minutes. Easy side dish.)
- Natural pasta sauce (Check the labels! The sugar will get you. Used from pasta dishes to pizzas)
- Real maple syrup or honey (Delicious when added to Greek yogurt or salad dressings)
- Greek yogurt, big tub, regular or vanilla flavor (Add to smoothies, substitute for sour cream or eat with berries for a protein-packed breakfast)
- Herbs (I love keeping Italian parsley, cilantro and basil on hand)
- Feta & Parmesan cheese (My two favorite cheeses that I add to pretty much everything)
- Chicken, ground turkey or fish (I love making stuffed chicken breasts, a quinoa Mexican turkey skillet or fresh herb salmon (LINK) with asparagus and quinoa.)
- Other in-season vegetables: Summer squash, zucchini, green beans, cabbage, peas
- Tahini sesame paste (I know this might not seem like a fridge staple, but for me it totally has been! It’s one of the key ingredients to make your own hummus, and it’s delicious when made with a sauce or dressing.)
- Dijon mustard (Great for dressings, sauces and marinades)
*Most, if not all, of these ingredients can be found a popular grocery chain stores, smaller markets and even Target.
My popular weekly meal options:
(When I cook these meals, I really don’t have a recipe I follow. It’s mainly about filling my plate per se before, during and after a long day.)
- Greek yogurt with berries and granola
- English muffin either with a boiled egg (added S&P) or smeared with almond butter
- Steel-cut oatmeal with fruit and honey
- Protein pancakes with natural maple syrup and chopped banana
- Avocado toast with an easy-over egg (garnished with red pepper flakes)
- Grilled chicken, fire-roasted tomatoes, wheat pasta, pasta sauce, roasted sweet potatoes (and/or other vegetables) and Parmesan cheese
- Quinoa with black beans, corn, sauteed kale and fish or chicken
- Spinach, black bean and avocado quesadillas with sriracha sauce (Just add a squeeze of sriracha to 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt and stir!)
- Hummus, kale and avocado wrap
- Almond butter, honey, strawberry and banana wrap
- Sweet potato power bowl
- Herbed salmon with quinoa and a side of in-season vegetables
- Pita pizzas
- Kale or spinach salad
How to define your own pantry/fridge staples:
- Decide what you like to eat. What food combinations or types of cuisine do you enjoy eating? Asian cuisine? Mexican cuisine? Power salads? This a good starting point because you can begin with your healthy carbs and veggies. I always try to have a balanced plate of protein, veggies and healthy fats. For instance, if you like Mexican dishes, keep a lot of healthy canned goods in your pantry such as black beans, diced tomatoes and diced green chiles. Oh, and quinoa. But, quinoa pretty much goes with anything…that’s why I’m obsessed.
- Plan your recipes/weekly meal plans around your staples. Pinterest is the best site to peruse menu options, in my opinion. I created a Pinterest board of all my favorite dinner and lunch recipes. So if I have a big bag of quinoa that needs to be eaten, I’ll find recipes that require quinoa or just add it to some baked salmon or chicken. Not only is this a great way to sneak in healthy ingredients, it will also save you money at the grocery store.
- I also shop the sales at my local grocery store. This past week, ground turkey was Buy 1, get 1 free, so I decided to make a Mexican quinoa turkey skillet and guacamole turkey burgers. Those are two completely different meals with amazing flavors!
What are some of your fridge and pantry staples? I’d love to hear what healthy meals you make when you’re on the go!