9 Staple Ingredients for Healthy Meals

Jun 19, 2021

Stocking your kitchen the right way will make things so much easier for you while ensuring your entire family is eating healthy. If you have the following staple ingredients in your kitchen, you can always make some seriously delicious and healthy meals your entire family will love.

Most of them are simple ingredients you can easily find and use to create a true masterpiece in your kitchen. You can even pack these healthy lunches in your bento box and take them to work, or pack them in your kids’ bento boxes for school.

So, here are 9 staple ingredients you should have on hand to create easy and healthy meals over and over again.

9 Staples for Healthy Meals

1. Grains

Grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet, bulgur, amaranth, brown rice, and spelt are incredible sources of essential micronutrients, such as magnesium, manganese, and vitamin B. Consuming them will keep you away from serious conditions like cancer and heart disease.

What’s more, they can last for months and even years if you keep them at room temperature, so you can buy them in large amounts, ensuring that you always have them at hand.

You can use grains to make various salads, pilafs, soups, and grain bowls.

2. Canned and Dried Beans and Lentils

Not only that lentils and beans are super nutritious, but they also have a very long shelf life which makes them great staple ingredients in your kitchen. You can keep canned beans at room temperature for up to 5 years.

Using canned and dried lentils and beans in your cooking will provide you with plenty of nutrients, including iron, B vitamins, magnesium, and fiber.

There are so many ways to use these healthy staples that the possibilities are really endless. For example, you can try adding kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, and black beans to salads, soups, and chilies.

3. Canned Tuna

protein content food

Canned tuna is loaded with proteins and omega-3s which are important for eye and brain health. The protein content keeps you full for longer, thus aiding weight loss. There’s tuna canned in oil or water, but if you aim for lower calories and fat, choose the one packed in water.

Another thing that makes this food a great staple is that it’s budget-friendly and can last for several years kept at room temperature. And, it’s perfect for days when you don’t have time to make lunch for work or at home.

You can use it to make all kinds of salads, pasta, casserole, patties, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, etc.

4. Fermented Foods

Pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods are extremely versatile and healthy. They can help improve blood glucose control, reduce inflammation, and improve digestive health.

What’s more, they can last for a long time, so you can buy them in bulk without worrying they will spoil. For example, you can keep pickles and sauerkraut at room temperature for one and a half years.

Add these tangy staples to various dishes and salads, or enjoy them straight out of the jar.

5. Frozen Meat, Poultry, and Fish

Freezing meat, poultry, and fish will ensure you always have some protein-rich staples to make healthy meals. You can keep haddock and cod in the freezer for up to five months, and meat and chicken for up to a year.

Freezing doesn’t destroy nutrients in food, so feel free to store these products in the freezer and make cooking easier for you.

6. Frozen Fruit & Vegetable

There’s nothing wrong with frozen fruit and vegetables. Freezing them doesn’t mean they will lose their nutrient content, but it will allow you to always have nutrient-rich ingredients at hand. This is great, considering the fact that most fruits like berries and green vegetables like spinach are highly perishable.

A few ideas to use these staples in your diet include adding frozen berries to yogurt parfaits, baked goods, smoothies, and oatmeal, and adding frozen greens to smoothies, soups, and sautés.

frozen vegetables lunch

Or, you can use frozen vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, and beans as a side to your office lunch.

7. Eggs

Even though eggs are not a long-lasting food, keeping them in the fridge will allow you to use them for up to five weeks. This is great, considering how versatile they are. Not to mention their nutrient content. They are an excellent source of protein, amino acids, folate, vitamin A, B vitamins, phosphorus, vitamin K, selenium, etc.

There are so many different ways to use eggs to make your meals healthier. You can add them to salads, oatmeal, veggie dishes, pasta, etc. Or, you can make a complete meal by just using them.

8. Onion and Garlic

These vegetables are considered the backbone of numerous recipes thanks to their unique aroma, long shelf life, and versatility. What’s more, they are incredibly healthy and consuming them on a regular basis can help you lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, mental decline, and other diseases and conditions.

You can add onions to soups, breads, wraps, salads, pasta, and rice, and garlic to flavor meat, veggie dishes, soups, stews, sauces, marinades, vinaigrettes, and salad dressings.

9. Long-Lasting Raw Vegetables and Fruits

Even though most fresh vegetables and fruits are perishable, there are some varieties that can last longer if you keep them in the fridge. These include apples, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, spaghetti squash, carrots, pomegranate, and citrus fruits.

You can use these foods to enrich your meals with nutrients, such as adding apples to oatmeal, carrots to vegetable dishes and salads, or mash some sweet potatoes for an ultimate side dish.

To Sum Up

You don’t have to buy expensive ingredients to make healthy meals for your family. Keeping these nine staple ingredients in your kitchen will help you make a number of delicious and healthy meals every day of the week.

Article Posted In: Healthy Lunch Recipes

Tags: healthy lunch, healthy lunch ideas, lunch ideas

Milena Popova

Milena is an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in writing articles on her favorite topics - food and health. In her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, reading, listening to music, and walking in nature.

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