10 Pantry Staples for Quick-and-Easy Healthy Meals
No time to cook?
I've learned that if I stock my kitchen with nutritious foods that are versatile and easy to prepare, eating healthy meals and snacks isn't too difficult, even during my busiest weeks.
Here are my favorite go-to foods that help me enjoy quick, healthy meals that don't pack on the pounds.
Almost every week I buy a big container of fresh greens (my favorite is arugula) to make salads, as well as to add to sandwiches and pasta dishes.
Greens are packed with nutrients and add lots of volume to dishes, so my meals satisfy me without a lot of calories.
Whole-wheat pasta is a staple in my house because it always makes a quick-and-easy, healthy meal. I love adding fresh vegetables and herbs to my pasta dishes.
Whole-wheat pasta has more fiber than regular white noodles, so I feel full faster, and I'm not usually tempted to eat a second helping.
Canned tuna is a good way to get protein and heart-healthy omega-3s in my diet, but I also love tuna because it's quick, easy, and affordable.
The culinary possibilities also go well beyond sandwiches! I love topping my salads with canned tuna, tossing it into pasta dishes, or mixing it with avocado and eating that with whole-grain crackers.
In the frozen-food section of your grocery store, you can find precooked edamame in pods or already shelled. All you have to do is thaw it and eat!
Edamame is low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with protein and iron. Not too shabby, right?
Oh, how I love peanut butter! People who are watching their weight often shy away from peanut butter because it's a high-calorie food, but it's loaded with protein, healthy fats, and lots of vitamins.
What I like most about peanut butter is that it fills me up and wards off my hunger for hours. I love adding it to oatmeal, smoothies, and bananas for a quick (and filling!) snack.
When I have only a few minutes to make lunch or dinner, I heat up a frozen veggie burger (my favorite is Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers), add it to a whole-wheat English muffin, throw on a piece a cheese and some fresh vegetables, and I'm good to go!
I love eggs! They're such a versatile food. They make a great veggie scramble for breakfast, an easy egg salad sandwich for lunch, or a filling veggie frittata for dinner.
For around $2, you can get a dozen eggs, which makes them one of the cheapest sources of protein available. I try to include protein at all of my meals to keep my hunger at bay.
I always get my money's worth with canned beans! They're a great source of meatless protein as well as fiber and iron. Plus, the varieties are endless—chickpeas, black, pinto, navy, kidney—so it's difficult to get bored with them!
I love adding beans to salads, pasta dishes, and
baking them in the oven with salt and vinegar for a healthy snack.
Fresh berries are often pretty expensive, especially when they are out of season.
Frozen berries cost much less and they're just as nutritious for you. I love tossing frozen berries into smoothies, oatmeal, and fresh salads.
When I want a little something to satisfy my sweet tooth, I reach for the bag of chocolate chips that I stash in my refrigerator door.
I pour a couple of tablespoons into a small bowl and savor them slowly. For around 150 calories, this simple treat satisfies my sweet tooth without overdoing it.