By: Andrea D’Ambrosio, Registered Dietitian & Owner of Dietetic Directions
Want to stock your kitchen like a dietitian? If so, this blog will help you do just that! Stocking your kitchen is a powerful strategy to set yourself up for healthy eating success. This way, you can lower mealtime stress by having wholesome ingredients/foods on hand to make meals at home instead of opting for expensive (and less healthy) takeout.
Today, I will share how to Stock Your Kitchen Like a Dietitian with my top fridge, pantry and freezer foods I always keep on hand. These foods can then inspire quick or more elaborate meals.
Benefits of a Well-Stocked Kitchen:
- Fewer trips to the grocery store (maybe once a week to stock up)
- Healthier diets lower in calories, fat, sugar, and salt, rather than frequently relying on take-out.
- Money-saving by eating more at home.
- Ability to make “low fuss” meals quickly. For example, bread in the freezer and eggs stocked in the fridge allow for a 10-minute fried egg sandwich if you have ketchup, salt and pepper.
- Less stress with meal decisions when there are versatile and wholesome options at home.
Dietitian Top Fridge, Pantry and Freezer Foods
Stock Your Fridge:
- Low-fat milk or alternative (1%, skim, soy milk, almond milk, etc.)
- Eggs (buy extra carton to prep hard-cooked eggs to last all week long)
- Fresh veggies (whole or pre-chopped in transparent containers)
- Salad greens (chopped and washed in a transparent container)
- Low-fat yogurts (Greek, Skyr, or Plain – add your own sweetness)
- Chopped fresh fruit (in clear containers)
- Hummus or bean dip, pre-portioned cheese strings or sliced turkey (can be grabbed as a quick snack)
- Unsalted seeds and nuts (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, walnuts, hemp hearts, and chia seeds)
- Non-hydrogenated margarine or unsalted butter
- Light mayonnaise, ketchup, Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, BBQ sauce, sriracha, salsa (all can be used to flavour or spice up your meals)
- Cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese, feta, cheddar, etc.)
- Garlic, fresh ginger, lemons/limes (all make easy seasonings)
- Sparkling water or reusable water bottles
Dietitian Tip: A little weekend “veggie prepping” allows you to have pre-cut vegetables in your fridge to speed up the cooking process or as easy snacks.
Stock Your Pantry:
- Whole-grain or high-fibre crackers or rice cakes
- Peanut butter or alternative nut butter (i.e. almond butter)
- Oil (i.e. olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil) and vinaigrette (balsamic, red wine, rice wine)
- Pasta (whole grain, gnocchi) and polenta
- Oats, quinoa, rice, bulgur and couscous
- High-fibre cereals (contains over 5 grams of fibre per serving) and super high-fibre cereal (contains over 10 grams of fibre per serving)
- Canned unsalted tomatoes, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and lupini beans
- Canned tuna, salmon, chicken and crab (packed in water)
- Basic spices (salt, fresh ground pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon, etc.)
- Low sodium soya sauce and vegetable/chicken broths (can be used for soups, stews and risotto)
- Popcorn kernels (or a low-fat microwaveable option)
- Black olives, sundried tomatoes, canned pineapple, pesto (for naan pizza toppings or to add to sauces, stews, etc.).
- Tea and coffee
Stock Your Freezer:
- Whole grain bread, English muffins, wraps/tortillas, naan bread/pitas, baguette (stays fresh longer)
- Frozen fruit and pre-cut veggies
- Edamame and green peas
- Shrimp, calamari, fish fillets, or smoked salmon
- Chicken/pork/beef/tofu (can store in multiple ways such as prepared meatballs, chicken fingers or veggie patties for quick meal protein)
- Quiche shells, perogies or ravioli
- Leftover meals pre-portioned into lunch containers that can be re-heated.
Lots of Supporting Templates!
Now that you have seen how I Stock My Kitchen Like a Dietitian, you can do the same for your fridge, pantry and freezer. This will help to make cooking at home easier without multiple trips to the grocery store during a busy week. Also, here’s a downloadable handout for the Top Items to Stock in Your Kitchen. You can also find Top Ten 15-Minute Meals in this resource that all use kitchen staples!
Another invaluable resource for organizing your kitchen is to do a Freezer Inventory. If you can’t remember the last time you checked what’s lurking in your freezer, now is the time. As part of the Meal Plan Like a Pro! Resource, you’ll find an article on how to do a freezer inventory along with a FREE Freezer Inventory template. Feel encouraged to do this every three months. Importantly, keep your freezer inventory visible when you’re meal planning so that you can use items in your freezer FIRST before buying new foods.
Freezers can get over-crowded, and contain forgotten or unlabelled contents. Be sure to download Meal Plan Like a Pro to learn How to Do a Freezer Inventory and templates! A freezer inventory helps you to maximize what you have on hand and use it up.
Additionally, you can keep an inventory of what’s currently in your pantry. Write these items on a piece of paper or electronically. Beside each item, write down meal ideas for how you would use this. For example, if you have multiple cans of tuna you may write down Tuna Wraps, Tuna Melts, Cold Tuna Pasta Salad, etc. This way when you are meal planning, you can use this sheet to inspire what meals you want to make. Consequently, your inventory sheet acts as a reminder for what you have and takes away stress of coming up with meal ideas.
Kitchen Organization Tips:
- Place the healthiest foods at eye level in the fridge. (Brian Wansink, professor and food researcher at Cornell advises not to use produce drawers for veggies because we forget about them!)
- Conversely, hide your indulgences (leftover desserts) in produce drawer or wrap in foil.
- Keep your fridge and kitchen clutter-free.
- Treat yourself to a fresh plant in the kitchen.
- Be well-stocked with re-useable containers for lunch leftovers and freezer meals when too busy to cook.
- Do regular inventories to note what you have on hand to inspire future meals. This way we can use up what we have before buying more.
A well-stocked kitchen is imperative for healthy eating success. When our mealtime stress is lower, with fewer trips to the grocery store and wholesome foods on hand, healthy eating becomes more attainable. Similarly, to make healthy habits stick, we need to set ourselves up for success with easier follow-through actions.
I hope you can utilize these fridge, pantry and freezer lists to stock your kitchen with delicious foods you love that you’re excited about eating or cooking with. After all, healthy eating does not need to be stressful. This Meal Plan Like a Pro Resource can help guide you each and every step of the way. Access your FREE copy today and be sure to share with your friends!