I was inspired to write this post by my kids’ frequent complaint that ‘there’s nothing to eat!’ There IS, of course, food to eat in my house. My kids just haven’t learned how to put balanced meals together yet, and I think a lot of people find themselves in similar quandaries when working to change their eating habits.
In general I have a standard template for my meals:
- fruits and vegetables for micronutrients
- protein for muscle repair
- starches for energy
- fats for flavor, nutrient absorption and healthy hormonal function
- seasonings for flavor
Today’s post is a simple guide to stocking your pantry with non-perishables from each category so that you always have what you need on hand to create a balanced meal, even if you haven’t been to the market in weeks and have run out of fresh food. Of course, fresh foods add more vibrant flavor and are likely to have slightly higher levels of nutrients, but we all have ‘those days’, and by having a pantry stocked with non-perishable whole foods you can ensure that you’ll still get balanced healthy meals on ‘those days’. And when your kitchen is fully stocked with fresh ingredients, you’ll be prepared with all the pantry basics you need to round out your meals.I’ve put together a chart of staples in each category below. Click on the image to view and/or download the pdf. Each item is hyperlinked to a product on Amazon for those who prefer to shop online.You can use the items here to create different flavor combinations. Some ideas:
- garlic + onion + curry + olive oil = Indian
- garlic + soy sauce + rice vinegar = Asian
- garlic + basil + parsley + sun dried tomato + olive oil = Italian
- garlic + onion + coriander + cumin + tahini = Middle Eastern
Whole grains cooked in stock add a new dimension to salads and can be used as a base for stir fried veggies and proteins. Fruit and nuts are an ideal snack. Oats with nuts and fruit makes a great high energy breakfast. Cold quinoa, olives, tuna and beans tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar makes a wonderful Mediterranean inspired lunch or dinner. Polenta with sardines and marinara sauce is delicious! Now if I can just get my own kids to see the possibilities in our pantry!