10 Kitchen Essentials For A Busy Household
Being busy is one of the most common excuses for going through drive-thru on the way home from work and eating food that might not make us feel our best, but being busy doesn't have to mean eating poorly. These days everyone's busy with a range of different commitments from work to uni to kid's sports and more, and when our diary overfills it's often food planning, shopping and cooking that gets pushed to the side. It's my opinion that if you want to eat well and feel your best, you have to prioritise the time to plan, shop and prepare nourishing meals. But even if you don't have enough time to cook dinner from scratch every night, if you stock your fridge, freezer and pantry with the right foods you can have a quick and nutritious meal any night of the week.
Below are 10 foods that I like to have in the kitchen at all times to prepare a tasty meal in a pinch, these foods have a longer used by date so you don't have to worry about them going off in a hurry.
Eggs - eggs are an extremely versatile and nutritious protein source, and a kitchen must-have if you can eat them. They can be used to make a range of sweet and savoury dishes, or can simply be boiled, scrambled or poached for a quick and easy addition to any breakfast, lunch or dinner. My favourite go-to is an easy veggie frittata, like this. Eggs can be kept for around 3-4 weeks in the fridge.
Frozen vegetables - frozen vegetables are the perfect go-to for a quick and easy dinner. Simply microwave or stir-fry them, add a protein source (eggs, tuna, salmon, tofu, etc.) and a carbohydrate source, such as brown rice, grainy bread, or potatoes, and you have a quick and nutritious dinner option.
Tinned fish - tinned fish such as tuna, salmon, mussels and oysters, are all great options to have on hand for a quick meal. You could do the standard tuna, brown rice and frozen veggies, or make a healthy tuna bake, salmon cakes, or simply enjoy a snack of smoked mussels on crackers.
Pasta - pasta is a very easy and hearty carb option to have on hand. It only takes around 10-15 minutes to cook, and you can top it with a range of different veggies, lean meats, and tomato-based sauces. Opt for a high-fibre or wholemeal pasta for an extra dose of fibre, and serve with lots of veggies for a wholesome dinner option.
Tinned tomatoes - simmer with some veggies, a protein source and some dried herbs and make a delicious pasta source in under 15 minutes. Adding tinned tomatoes to a pasta sauce is also a great way to get in some extra veggies.
Olive oil - olive oil is a must-have for any kitchen! A great source of healthy monounsaturated fats. Perfect for using as a dressing on raw or cooked veggies, and good quality extra virgin olive oil is also great for pan frying or cooking at high temperatures, as its smoke point is around 210-220° C. Coconut is often touted as the oil to use when cooking at high temperatures, however, its smoke point is only around 177° C. A good quality olive oil is the clear winner, with the higher smoke point and also containing the heart healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.
Rice sachets - rice sachets provide a very quick alternative to cooking rice from scratch for the days that you need your food to be prepared quickly. They come in a range of different varieties, and can be heated up in 90 seconds in the microwave. Choose brown or basmati for a low GI carbohydrate option.
Tinned beans and lentils - inexpensive, versatile and a great source of fibre and plant protein (did I mention that I love lentils?!). Add to pasta, veggies and rice, or blitz into hummus in a couple of minutes.
Oatmeal - oats are a quick, easy and delicious breakfast option all year round, enjoy a warm bowl of porridge in Winter or overnight oats as a refreshing Summer breakfast. Oats are a fantastic breakfast option as they are a good source of fibre, in particular beta-glucan, which is associated with a range of health benefits including lowering cholesterol levels. They are also cheap, tasty and filling.
Dried herbs - add flavour to any dish without additional salt, sugar or fat. Dried herbs have a long shelf life and are a great alternative to fresh herbs if you don't have a herb garden.
Here are a few easy weeknight meals I have prepared using some of these ingredients:
What are your kitchen essentials??
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