15 Staple Foods to Make Weekly Healthy Eating Simple

10 min read
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Jan 30, 2024
15 Staple Foods to Make Weekly Healthy Eating Simple
Nutritionists enjoy beating the drum of meal planning. I am one of them, so I would know!
It's also not always practical to plan your family's meals in advance, even though doing so can help you eat health ier in the real world.
Keeping a well-stocked pantry can be a great first step toward eating well if you'd like to but haven't yet perfected the art of meal planning with color-coded tabs and thorough Pinterest lists.
Do you want to turn your kitchen into a one-stop store for essentials for meals? Check out these 15 health y cupboard, refrigerator, and freezer staples.

Canned chickpeas

Prep suggestions
You can make a variety of dinners (and lunches too) with just a can of chickpeas.
To add more protein and fiber to soups or stews, drain the can and add the tiny legumes. Or mash them to make a wrap filling with diced celery, lemon juice, and fresh dill. Of course, there are also a variety of chickpea salads, tacos, and cakes to select from.
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Chickpeas that are left over can be frozen or stored in the fridge for up to a week in a sealed container. Canned chickpeas should be dried out as much as possible before being frozen in a single layer on a baking sheet. After they've frozen, keep them in an airtight container or zip-top bag.
Health benefits
Chickpeas, for all their modest appearance, are a nutritional powerhouse.
Just 4 grams of fat, 14.5 grams of protein, and 12.5 grams of fiber may be found in one cup of cooked beans. They also include a significant amount of folate, a B vitamin that aids in the formation of DNA and new cells, and manganese, which promotes bone health.

Chicken breast

Prep suggestions
There's a reason why chicken is the most readily available meat per person in the United States. For countless dishes, including stir-fries, sandwiches, pastas, soups, casseroles, and more, it's an absolute fan favorite.
Have skinless, boneless chicken breasts available as a main source of protein for dinner. Dinner is ready when you just add a whole grain (such pasta, rice, or quinoa) and a vegetable (carrots, green beans, or broccoli, maybe?).
Before cooking your chicken, season it with common cupboard ingredients like dried basil, rosemary, oregano, or garlic powder.
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Please excuse us as we perform a brief chicken dance for chickens. The meat may be easily preserved for future use in making health y snacks.
Uncooked chicken breasts can be frozen in their original packaging; however, it will be simpler to extract each breast individually if you place them into separate foil packets.
It's also very simple to freeze cooked chicken. To store it in the freezer for up to nine months, simply place it in an airtight container.
Health benefits
This poultry option's superior complete protein helps strengthen your immune system, aid in muscular growth, and accelerate the healing of wounds.

Smoked salmon

Prep suggestions
Although smoked salmon is an even simpler way to prepare health ful meals, fresh salmon filets are widely recognized for their variety and beneficial fats.
It comes ready to be added to salads, pastas, and wraps (try a salmon-kale mix). This is because it has already been cooked. Lemon, dill, smoky paprika, or cream cheese flavors go very well with smoked salmon.
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Usually smoked salmon is packaged in smaller portions, so you might not have any leftovers. If you do, however, you can store it in the refrigerator for a week (or freeze it for a month) in a sealed container.
Health benefits
Similar to fresh salmon, smoked salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to the heart and brain. Additionally, it contains antioxidants like vitamins A and E that help reduce inflammation. Just watch out for its high sodium content, which ranges from 600 to 1,200 mg per 100 grams.

Extra-firm tofu

Prep suggestions
It's possible that you haven't tried tofu properly prepared if you're still unsure.
Extra-firm tofu may be made perfectly crispy by pressing out the moisture, which makes it an ideal protein for stir fries, curries, and Asian noodle meals. Because of its bland taste, it may absorb the flavor of any sauce or ingredient you use.
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Remaining food from your pad Thai? Extra-firm tofu keeps well in the freezer for four to six months, or for five to seven days in the refrigerator in sealed packaging.
Health benefits
The 'fu is nothing to be afraid of! Despite persistent misconceptions that it will change your hormones, evidence suggests that tofu may help prevent malignancies linked to hormones, such as breast cancer.
In the meantime, it contains more than 50% of the Daily Value of calcium and a generous amount of plant-based protein (17 grams per 3.5-ounce serving).

Red lentils

Prep suggestions
Red lentils are about in the center of the pack when it comes to cooking times; they usually simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. While there are many different hues of lentils to pick from, such as green, yellow, brown, and black, the red kind is best for daal, an Indian stew made with tomatoes, onions, and spices because of its mild, sweet, and earthy flavor. (Try this recipe with ginger!)
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Cooked lentils can make a high-fiber topping for baked sweet potatoes or go well with sautéed greens the next day. Or just keep them in the fridge for five to seven days in a sealed container.
Health benefits
Lentils are a member of the pulse family and are loaded with health benefits. They are heart-healthy due to their fiber and antioxidant combination, and their 46 grams of protein per cup (dry) is shockingly high.

Whole wheat spaghetti

Prep suggestions
There's no better last-minute dinner solution than a box of pasta. Additionally, if you prepare it like a box of whole wheat spaghetti, you'll get thick, versatile noodles that are thin but not too thin.
Make a pasta dish with sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and olives that is Mediterranean-inspired by starting with whole wheat spaghetti. Alternatively, let it absorb fresh arugula, cannellini beans, and homemade or store-bought pesto.
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There are no specific storage requirements for extra raw whole wheat spaghetti; nevertheless, cooked spaghetti must be kept in the refrigerator. (It can be left there for three to five days.) Although cooked pasta freezes well, reheating it could result in it becoming mushy.
Health benefits
Large amounts of fiber included in whole wheat spaghetti can lower cholesterol, support health y weight maintenance, and assist regulate digestion.

Quinoa

Prep suggestions
Try fluffy, nutty quinoa when you need a grain for something like a grain salad, casserole, or stir-fry. It's a pleasant variation from regular rice. Just put the quinoa in a 1:2 ratio with water or broth and boil it until it becomes tender, about 20 minutes.
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After quinoa has been cooked and fluffed, it can also be used to provide some carbohydrate content to other meals. When you're ready to use it again, store it in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a week. You can use it in stuffed grilled zucchini or a salad (like this interestingly fruity one).
Health benefits
Choose from quinoa's plethora of health advantages! Its fiber encourages regular bowel motions, makes you feel full, and may help you lose weight.
Furthermore, it has a high concentration of magnesium, manganese, copper, and other minerals in addition to its high protein content and anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

Quick-cooking oats

Prep suggestions
Remember to include breakfast in your attempts to restock your cupboard with health y foods! Quick-cooking oats take less than two minutes in the microwave to provide a base for adding ingredients such as protein powder, peanut butter, blueberries, pepitas, or sliced banana in the morning. Bowls don't have to ever be the same.
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Although a bowl of leftover oatmeal is unlikely to be appealing the following day, you may still make good use of a tiny bit of additional dry quick-cooking oats. For extra sturdiness, mix some into meatloaf or sprinkle it onto muffins.
Health benefits
For good reason, oats are regarded as one of the "superfoods" in the pantheon. Their beta glucan can aid in blood sugar stabilization, and their soluble fiber has been connected to lower cholesterol.
A diet high in whole grains, such as oats, may, in the meanwhile, reduce the incidence of colon cancer.

Bone broth

Prep suggestions
Uncertain about which broth to choose from veggie, chicken, or beef? Consider giving bone broth a try; it's a versatile option that complements a wide range of flavors. (Even though they are all cooked from animal bones, some bone broths also contain vegetables, herbs, and spices.)
Bone broth is a fantastic substitute for water for cooking rice and quinoa, and it may be used to make hearty soups and flavorful sauces. You can use it in place of other types of broth in dishes such as mac and cheese, chicken a la King, and beef taco soup.
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Bone broth can be refrigerated in its original packaging for four to five days after opening. Alternatively, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it for convenient serving sizes.
Health benefits
Bone broth has potential to improve health even though it might not be the magical food that some people think it is.
It contains chondroitin, glucosamine, and collagen from boiling animal bones, which may help relieve joint discomfort. Improvements in sleep, brain function, and intestinal health are further possible advantages.

Sweet potatoes

Prep suggestions
The earthy flavor of sweet potatoes complements spices like ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon well. Their culinary adaptability is seen in a variety of cuisines, including Mexican and Indian dishes.
Cooked sweet potatoes can be diced and used to pasta, curries, or tacos. Alternatively, you may bake them whole as a dependable baked side dish.
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Leftover mashed sweet potatoes can be refrigerated for three to five days in a zip-top bag. Save them for a fun and health y smoothie or muffin addition.
Health benefits
Sweet potatoes' high potassium content maintains health y neuron and muscle function, while its soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar.

Frozen spinach

Prep suggestions
A frozen bag of spinach is a reliable source for quick and health ful meals. Smoothies, quiche, and frittatas, as well as spinach lasagna, are just waiting for the nutritious benefits of frozen greens.
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Cooked frozen spinach keeps well in the refrigerator for three to five days.
Health benefits
One of the most well-known properties of spinach is its high iron content, which aids in blood oxygenation. However, it also contains a good amount of fiber and the eye- health y vitamins zeaxanthin and lutein.

Grape tomatoes

Prep suggestions
Fresh tomatoes are a staple in so many of our favorite dishes, including pizza, pasta, and salads. Mini grape tomatoes allow you to make your favorite tomato-based dishes with minimal chopping and slicing.
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Roasting grape tomatoes is a tasty way to keep them around even longer! Drizzle the fruits with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake at 400°F for about 40 minutes, rotating midway through.
The shelf life of roasted tomatoes in the refrigerator varies; some estimate up to two weeks. To determine whether they're still functional, utilize your senses.
Health benefits
In numerous aspects, grape tomatoes are a fruit with a well-rounded flavor! They contain lycopene, an antioxidant well-known for lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease. They're also a good source of potassium, folate, and vitamins C and K.

Extra-virgin olive oil

Prep suggestions
How many dishes begin with an olive oil drizzle? Here are just a handful—there are far too many to mention! Good-tasting suggestions for EVOO are crostini, hashes for supper (try this one with pastrami), and dipping sauces (try this garlicky kale and spinach dip).
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The only thing you really need to know about storing olive oil is to keep it in a dark, cool place in an opaque or dark-colored bottle. It has a maximum shelf life of two years.
Health benefits
The monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) found in olive oil are very beneficial to health. Consuming MUFAs has been linked in studies to a lower risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease mortality, total mortality, and cardiovascular events. That's why the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet includes EVOO as a mainstay!

Onions

Prep suggestions
Add onions to almost any recipe to give it a savory flavor boost. For a base for rice pilaf or French onion soup, sauté them in a little olive oil. You can also include their caramelized sweetness into a mixture of roasted vegetables.
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Onions can be stored for weeks on the countertop, but it's best to store them in the refrigerator in a zip-top bag or other sealed container once you've cut them off and removed the skin. Wraps, falafel, and hamburgers may all be topped with leftovers.
Health benefits
Onions contain antibacterial qualities, according to some study, which can help protect you from illnesses.

Apples

Prep suggestions
Although apples are a common sight in lunchboxes, they are useful for more than just lunch. Diced apple can be added to oatmeal, fried apples can be used to enhance pork chops, or you can quickly prepare a fruit salad to serve with breakfast for dinner.
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Apples' longevity is one of their best selling qualities. Refrigerate for up to 6 weeks to preserve them!
Health benefits
Apples are beneficial to overall health because they contain vitamins C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic acid. Eating them has been linked in studies to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes , BMI, and total mortality.

Key Takeaway

With the right tools, you can prepare health y meals that are quick to put together and provide you with plenty of good nutrients. To remove the mental acrobatics from mealtime, stock the kitchen with these 15 essentials.