Basically, I just really love spending money. Which is probably why I cry in my checkbook every week, but that’s a story for another post. But when it comes to shopping for fresh food — whether you are revamping, refreshing or restocking — it can get overwhelming in a hurry. Well, it is about to get a lot simpler because the key to a fresh pantry and fridge is “less is more.”
As a busy, working mom I understand the difficulty in always having fresh on hand. You can’t always run to the grocer, and sometimes you want to just reach into the cupboard/freezer/fridge and have something almost make itself. I get it. Having a few tried and trues on hand helps with those harried days and nights, will make mealtimes run smoother, and still keep your diet clean.
What exactly is a clean diet? It may vary from person to person, but for me it is one that contains unprocessed, whole (mostly plant) foods sans chemicals or other strange ingredients. Here are some tips for “going” clean, as well as a list of some things I always try to have on hand for quick meal prep (note: my list contains some convenience semi-clean items for kids!). Use it as your guide next time you go shopping.
By the way, if something sounds unfamiliar to you, do a little research. I’m constantly learning about new, interesting, good-for-you foods. You, too, will be amazed at the options out there!
1. Start by saying goodbye to a few main "evils."
This includes all white stuff (including sugar), plus caffeine and alcohol. This doesn’t mean you can’t detour every now and then ... you decide what works for you.
2. Know that you don’t have to go toss everything and start from scratch in one day.
Switching to 100 percent clean foods can be challenging and even costly at first. Give it time, and take it easy on yourself. Try replacing one food item at a time. Sub in soba noodles for plain white pasta, or skip the Snickers and do dates instead. As you continually add in the good, your taste buds will change, and you will naturally want good, clean, whole foods. (The “fake” foods will seem less appealing.)
3. Remember: less IS more.
The fewer ingredients an item has, the “wholer” it is, as in less processed. Try to purchase items with five or six ingredients at the most.
4. Plan to create meals with just a few items.
Try mixing and matching from the lists below. For example, boil quinoa and then toss it with roasted asparagus, butternut squash, a sliced hard-boiled egg and 1/2 sliced avocado. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon sesame oil, a splash of tamari and sprinkle with sunflower seeds and a pinch of cayenne. Fresh, clean, fast and delish!
GRAINS AND PROTEIN IN THE PANTRY
- Brown rice
- Quinoa (also a protein source)
- Soba noodles (also a protein source)
- Black beans
- Cannelini beans
- Pinto beans
- Raw almonds
- Raw cashews
- Sunflower seeds
- Almond butter
- Tomatoes (plum and grape)
- Various other vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, fennel, whatever you like)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Sesame oil
- Black pepper
- Grey celtic/pink himalayan salt
- Hot sauce
- Red pepper flakes
- Maple syrup
- Tamari (instead of soy sauce)
- Dijon mustard
- Apple cider vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Varied other fruits (berries, melon, mango, grapes)
- Ezekiel bread, ezekiel tortillas
- Raw chocolate (try Gnosis or Nibmor, my faves!)
- Coconut ice cream (try So Delicious brand)
- Quinoa & black bean tortilla chips (Trader Joe’s)
- Pretzels (Mary’s Gone Crackers Sticks & Twigs)
- Popcorn (go for FRESH-popped on the stove)
- Amy’s frozen burritos
- Daiya dairy-free pepperjack cheese shreds
- Frozen fruit for smoothies
- Bell and Evans chicken nuggets
- Dr. Praeger’s Littles
- Eden Organic Pizza Sauce
- Udi’s gluten-free pizza crust
- bagged frozen vegetables
- lara bars
- Amy’s organic canned soups
- Enjoy Life cookies
- Coconut water
- Kombucha (with chia seeds!)
- Herbal teas
- Almond or hemp milk
- To add into smoothies: gogi berries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cacao powder, maca powder
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