It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Getting ready for Baby Erin to make her appearance has preoccupied my time and energy, as well as getting used to working from home – I’m a freelance writer and musician/worship director. It’s been an adjustment, but I’m glad that I have the opportunity to stay home with little Erin after she’s born, which should be some time in the next two weeks.
That being said, with all the preparations going on, one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is what we’ll be eating, especially for the first two weeks. I’ll confess, I probably haven’t done as much freezer cooking as I should. But I have been collecting an arsenal of super easy recipes, and we just got a steal on a new blender, which we desperately needed, so we can make smoothies, after all, if you’re nursing you need something fast right?
Through the years, Micah and I have learned that if we want to eat healthy, there are certain foods we can buy in bulk to have on hand, so we won’t be tempted to grab fast food. Even though there’s two of us, soon to be 3, we’ve learned how to prep and freeze certain foods when they go on sale, so that we can get the best deals,and there are some foods we do eat a lot of quickly. You’re food list might look a lot different than mine, but I’m attaching a list for you to use so you can stock up on these delicious and nutritious foods too. It just so added up that we have 20 staple foods that we keep in our house on a regular basis. This is one of my favorite ways to plan a menu for the week. Why are these our staple foods?
1. They meet certain nutritional requirements that we have.
2. They are cheaper and easy to store when bought in bulk.
3. They are relatively easy to find in our area.
4. We can use them in a wide variety of ways.
Before you make a food a staple in your pantry, you should ask yourself if these guidelines apply. We do eat a much wider variety of foods than this, which may vary depending on the season. but these are foods that we consistently have in our diet and help us feel our healthiest.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is not intended to substitute for medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any exercise or diet regimen.
Let’s break it down by macro group. For more on macros, check out this post.
1. Protein Powder – We use whey, but be sure to find a powder that meets your dietary needs. We use this in making protein bars – it’s way cheaper than store bought protein bars, and in smoothies, and we also have blender bottles, which are totally work the $6 investment, by the way.
2. Yogurt/kefir – Both of us have found that our bodies need an extra dose of probiotics, in fact, my OB has strongly encouraged me to take a supplement of probiotics throughout my pregnancy, both for my health, as well as Erin’s, and PTL, I haven’t caught a virus. Usually, we have both of these foods in the house at the same time. You don’t have to buy a fancy brand of yogurt, store brand will do, and Costco often has great deals on a 2-pack of the large tubs. Just add fruits and nuts, and you have a great snack or breakfast food!
3. Chicken breasts/thighs – We also buy these in bulk because it is cheaper! I love cutting them up in small pieces and adding them to stir-fries and ethnic dishes. (This makes them go way further.) Chicken thighs are a great deal for a family when they go on sale, and with just a little prep work, they can be made much healthier by trimming off the fat.
4. Eggs – We love eggs! This is another food my OB/GYN has really encouraged. Eggs are not only a great source of protein, but of the b-vitamin, choline, as well. We eat them scrambled, in stir-fries, and they are also cheap for us to buy in bulk. We also have connections that give us a great deal on farm-fresh eggs, which can’t be beat! They’re also so easy to find in our area, because we live rural area, and prices are very competitive.
5. Mozzarella cheese – If you are lactose intolerant, I sincerely offer my condolences. Seriously. This is a staple on our food list, however, so I couldn’t leave it out. I have learned myself that my body digests mozzarella cheese and goat cheese the best, so often I swap other cheeses requested in recipes for one of these two. Cheese is also a great source of fats, and calcium, which growing children need for healthy bones. We don’t go crazy with cheese, and it is cheaper to buy in bulk, so I’ve been stocking up due to the fact that I’ve been attempting to make freezer meals.
6. Quinoa – If you haven’t tried quinoa, you should! I much prefer it to brown rice, and it’s one of the only plant-based protein sources with all 8 essential amino acids. It absorbs the flavor of whatever broth you cook it in, and you can eat it sweet or savory. This little seed is something we buy in bulk…because once again, it is way cheaper to purchase this way. If you’re not sure what to do with quinoa, check out my quinoa post here.
7. Coconut oil – We love this stuff! It is so versatile, and we have a small container in every room, not just for eating, but to use as mouthwash, body lotion, and in our experience, it works! Coconut oil is a healthy fat that has been shown to be good for brain development. You can check out my post about the other uses of coconut oil here.
8. Walnuts/nuts/seeds – Omega 3’s, protein, staying power, brain food…what more could you want in a food? We buy walnuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds the most and eat them for snacks, and add them to salads. They are also way cheaper if you buy them at a bulk store, such as Sam’s Club or Costco.
9. Hummus – I love hummus because it’s a great way to get my salty craving fix without eating so much, well, er, ummm…salt. This is a great source of protein as well. And Hummus is relatively cheap, but the cost for homemade hummus is insanely low. All you need is a good blender or food processor. Add a can of chickpeas, olive oil or tahini, and spices and in only 2 minutes you will have a great healthy spread for snack time.
10. Nut butter/peanut butter – Okay, once again, so sorry if you have an allergy, but this is simply what we eat. We also alternate with almond butter. This is a food that is a great add-in for smoothies, oatmeal, fruit, and also a great source of plant-based protein.
11. Flax/chia seeds – Good things come in small packages. Flax and chia seeds have omega-3’s, aka, specifically ALA. They also have protein and fiber. They are great for using in smoothies and oatmeal.
12. Extra virgin olive oil – This healthy source of fats gets used as a cooking spray and also helps us make our own salad dressings.
12. Bananas – This fruit is rich in potassium, which is an important mineral that impacts hydration. Bananas are a great addition to smoothies, oatmeal, and homemade sorbets….yes, I did say “sorbets”.
13. Cucumbers – This fruit/veggie/whathaveyou is a great veggie to eat with hummus or in a salad. I like to put a slice or two in my water from time to time. They’re also easy on the budget.
14. Lemons – This is another food that can be used for more than food. Lemon juice makes a toilet shine and freshens up the stinkiest garbage disposal when paired with baking soda and vinegar. Food-wise, they’re rich in vitamin C and I love to put them in my water infusion pitcher…Think healthy kool-aid. They are great for upset tummies, bloating, constipation, skin blemishes, you name it.
15. Mini peppers – These are a great snack for Micah to take to work because of it’s portability. Just wash the peppers off, throw them in a container with hummus, and go! Yellow “veggies” are rich in vitamin A, which is vital for skin, hair, nails, and good vision. Besides, they taste great.
17. Onions – These guys add flavor and also provide a nutrient known as sulfur, which is necessary for healthy skin and digestive function. They are inexpensive, but are also super easy to grow yourself, if you’re looking to get into gardening.
18. Brown rice – brown rice is a great staple to be added to soups and stews. It is a slow-digesting carb, and has amino acids and fiber. Be careful of where it is sourced, when possible, due to arsenic content recently found in rice grown in certain countries.
19. Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, and fiber. I love how they keep me fuller longer, and can be used in a variety of ways. They are also locally grown here in NC, so they are inexpensive.
20. Slow-Cooking oats – More fiber, a little protein, great for the digestive tract and your skin, oats are an important part of our diet. We make protein bars with them, eat them for breakfast, and grind them up with a coffee grinder to make g-free flour (oats must be certified g-free). The uses for oats are almost endless.
21. Dried/canned beans – Legumes have protein too. We love to add these to meat to make it go further. Our favorites are lentils and black beans, which can also be made into delicious veggie dips.
22. Spinach/mixed greens – Rich in iron and vitamins A and K, spinach and mixed greens provide many of the minerals that we need in our diet. The variety of greens available may vary in season, with kale being more readily available in colder climates and seasons. Spinach also blends well in smoothies…sounds disgusting, I know, but just try it.
23. Apples – I love apples, especially in the fall. They help me get in my daily fiber intake, yes, there’s that word again, and we use them in a lot of recipes.
24. Coffee – Enough said.
25. Green tea – We love the antioxidants and also use it in baths to soften the skin.
26. Stevia/xylitol – We use any sweeteners sparingly, but these are the two alternatives to sugar that we use. Many don’t like the taste of stevia, but I prefer to mix the two because xylitol does contain extra carbohydrates. Xylitol is also used in Finland’s toothpastes and mouthwashes, and they currently have the lowest amounts of tooth decay and gum disease of anywhere in the world. I’ll let you research and draw your own conclusions though.
27. Non-dairy milk – Instead of buying expensive coffee creamers, this is our alternative. I also don’t digest cow’s milk well, so this is my alternative. Coconut milk is my favorite.
28. Herbs/spices – We have recently begun window-box gardening our own herbs, such as basil, lavender, oregano, and mint. It is way less expensive for us. We also use spices as an alternative to loading our food with salt. Just be conscious of which spices may be safe for you to consume, and consult with your healthcare provider.
So, there you have it. Some of these foods don’t run out very often, and it makes budgeting and planning for meals at our house so much easier, because we know what we’ll have on hand most of the time. It also cuts down on wasting food. Look through your cabinets and create a list using this free printable to organize your healthy menu planning efforts!