One thing I know for sure is that yours truly, The Clean Eating Coach, never seems to have enough time for all the cooking I’d like to do. I often have these day dreamy ideas about the many things I’m going to whip up, scrumptious, clean eating meals, but once the week starts, reality sets in and I need to keep it simple, no elaborate Julia Child cooking allowed!
Truth be told, during the week, instead of being more pleasurable, it sometimes can seem like a chore, especially after a long day of work. But if I’ve learning anything over the years about getting a quick, clean eating meal on the table, it’s all about preparation, preparation and more preparation. Half the battle is having the items you need on hand so you’re not scrambling around at the grocery store with no list and no idea of what to buy or make.
Now that fall is here, I’ve put together a list of my Top 10 Must Haves in the kitchen/pantry when you want to turn out a healthy meal plus some ideas for what you can do with them. The list features a mix of fresh, frozen and canned items that combine convenience, simplicity and a dose of creativity.
1. Dark leafy greens (and a bag of frozen greens as back up) – Each week I buy two bunches of greens – One I use for making fresh juices and smoothies and the second for adding to soups, stews, or sautéing and adding to a side dish. If you can’t find fresh, you can buy high quality frozen greens.
2. Root vegetables – sweet potatoes, beets, butternut squash and parsnips are some of my favorites. It’s easy to whip up a healthy side of roasted root veggies. Just dice, add olive oil, sea salt and your favorite herbs and bake in the oven. Serve them for dinner or use the leftovers at breakfast time.
3. Whole wheat (or gluten-free) tortillas – I always keep a package on hand for making quick meals like bean or fish burritos and sandwiches for lunch.
4. Whole grains – Whether whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa or some other variety, whole grain always makes for a quick meal. Mix with your favorite protein source and veggies for a quick healthy meal. And if you don’t like waiting for 45 minutes to cook brown rice, try the quick cooking or frozen variety in a pinch.
5. Ground turkey – I like to keep a pound of frozen turkey on hand to make super quick dishes – add to pasta sauce, soups or stews or make delicious burgers that include fresh, chopped greens.
6. Salsa/diced tomatoes – I always pick up a jar of salsa to add to things like beans and brown rice. And canned diced tomatoes are a must have too – I’m a fan of the Muir Glen organic brand.
7. Canned beans – super versatile, easy and oh so healthy, I can never get enough of canned beans. I loved the Eden Organic brand, no added salt and they come in BPA-free cans!
8. Canned tuna or wild salmon – I add wild salmon to so many dishes from a quick salmon salad to pasta sauce. The healthy omega 3s will keep you focused and satisfied for hours.
9. Frozen fish fillets – These days Whole Food and Stop and Shop have some great choices of freshly caught, flash frozen fish that is pre-packaged. I like to thaw out flounder, cod or halibut fillets, marinate and add to my fish burritos.
10. Cage-free eggs – Short on dinner ideas? What about a veggie outlet featuring fresh greens and a side of roasted veggies? I say that’s quick, simple and delicious clean eating meal!
What’s your top 10 list of meal planning essentials that you love to keep on hand now that you’re back in your routine ? Share your top 10 below and let’s brainstorm even more great ideas!