If you’re looking to lead a healthier lifestyle but aren’t sure how to start, the food in your pantry might be part of the problem. Avoid temptation by stocking up on the following seven types of food that should always be in your pantry if you want to be healthy. By ensuring that certain foods are always on hand, you’ll eliminate many of the temptations that keep you from eating healthy.
1. Staples – Whole Grains, Berries
Whole grains – as opposed to refined and processed varieties – are packed with fiber, B vitamins, and minerals. If you’re not used to eating whole grains, start slowly by replacing half of your usual refined grain intake with healthier alternatives like brown rice or quinoa.
Frozen berries are another favorite snack food of mine! Berries are packed with polyphenols that have been linked to lower levels of inflammation, higher brain function, and improved mental health; they’re also an excellent source of antioxidants that fight cancer-causing free radicals. Store berries out of their packaging in airtight containers (like Mason jars) for one to two weeks before discarding them. Note: They’ll last longer if you freeze them rather than refrigerate them.
2. Seasonings – Peanut Butter, Canned Goods
We often focus on high-fat, high-calorie processed foods when stocking our cupboards, but natural foods are also important. Seasonings allow you to add interest and variety to otherwise bland dishes.
- Peanut butter – spreadable protein – is convenient and doesn’t spoil quickly, so that you can keep it around longer than other condiments.
- Canned goods are excellent because they offer up vegetables that have been cooked for you; all you need to do is drain them, open them up and eat! If that sounds like a step too far, then at least stock some cans of beans (if canned veggies aren’t your thing) or chicken or tuna fish.
3. Dairy – Milk, Eggs
Eggs are one of nature’s most versatile and nutritious foods. Whether you prefer them boiled, scrambled, or fried with veggies, eggs contain nine essential amino acids that help build muscle protein. One large egg contains 70 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 5 grams of high-quality protein – making it an excellent breakfast or post-workout meal. When buying eggs, go for free-range varieties, like such organic food options: click here for the examples, to get maximum nutritional benefits from your grocery budget and health plan.
Milk is another inexpensive source of lean protein and calcium and vitamin D. Milk also has less lactose than many other dairy products (such as cheese), making it easier to digest for those who have trouble digesting milk sugar.
4. Fruit & Vegetables – Frozen Fruits & Veggies
To keep up with our busy schedules, most of us rely on frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh, but you can store it longer without fear of spoilage. Also, consider fresh-frozen vegetables, picked ripe and flash-frozen to lock in nutrients and flavor. The best part: They’re available year-round and often taste better than out-of-season fresh produce. Plus, they’re sometimes less expensive than new options!
Try making your smoothies with frozen fruit – you’ll save money and calories over bottled smoothie mixes. Fruits and vegetables are important because they provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can help protect against heart disease, certain cancers, and other conditions. They also keep us full longer, so we don’t eat as many calories. Eating 3.5 cups of fruit per day may help people lose weight. The best part: fruits and vegetables are available year-round, you can even grow them in your own garden, for more information click here. You can choose fresh or frozen options – both will give you all these benefits!
5. Carbs – Oats, Brown Rice
The body needs carbohydrates to function. Carbohydrates are not an essential nutrient, but they are not optional if you want to be able to think and move around every day. Carbohydrates provide us with fuel and necessary vitamins and minerals such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, calcium magnesium and iron.
They also help regulate blood sugar levels. Though studies disagree on how much of each type of carb our bodies need, most medical experts agree that we should all eat more whole grains, especially brown rice and oats. If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, it’s essential to monitor your carbs intake closely. Here’s an article with deeper explanations.
Most people can safely consume between 200-300 grams per day without adverse effects on their health. To avoid weight gain and promote heart health, stick with complex carbs like those found in fruits and vegetables over simple carbs like those found in white bread and pasta.
6. Dairy-Free/Vegan Options – Almond Flour, Coconut Oil
Almond flour is a substitute for regular flour. It is lower in carbs and calories than wheat or white flour, making it an ideal alternative for low-carb diets. Coconut oil has been shown to have numerous health benefits, and many vegans use it as a replacement for butter and other animal fats. The taste and texture of both these ingredients may take some getting used to, but you’ll never want to go back once you do!
7. Condiments – Mustard, Pickles
Did you know there’s evidence that suggests that specific chemicals called phytochemicals found in mustard and pickles may help prevent cancer and heart disease? Additionally, these condiments are low in calories and add loads of flavor to meals.
Mustard is also great on burgers; try it! Pickles, especially grown on your own, are fantastic with sandwiches, especially when you feel like something is a little salty. On their own, both of these condiments make for great snacks too. Stick to buying low-sodium varieties as they will still provide health benefits without the extra sodium that most store-bought versions contain.
There are so many different types of healthy diets out there, and that’s because everyone has unique needs. While some people have strong reactions to dairy or gluten (or both), others may find that dairy helps with certain medical conditions. If you notice specific changes to your body from consuming certain foods, it might be worth eliminating them from your diet and seeing if there are any long-term effects.
Of course, if you don’t notice anything after removing certain foods from your diet, then it probably doesn’t matter too much what you eat. As long as you get enough protein and fiber every day, along with plenty of fruits and vegetables (and don’t overeat), you can rest assured that your body will run smoothly no matter what kind of food choices you make. And as always: Eat well!