I’m in charge of the food shopping in our home and I’ve got into a pretty good routine of meal planning, doing our food shop, then meal prepping for the week ahead. I’ll go into more detail about how I do each of those steps and share my tips and tricks with you another time, but today I thought I’d share my healthy kitchen essentials. Y’know, those foods that you always keep stocked up in your cupboards and are never without. These kitchen essentials are versatile staples and great for lots of different healthy dishes, they really elevate a meal and are just handy to grab before hanger strikes.
Whilst I don’t have a glorious pantry, I feel like I’ve done the best I can with the small space that we have in our flat. I recently had a big clear out and organised our kitchen cupboards which inspired this post. I threw away tins that were out of date (gross) and decanted our kitchen essentials into my beloved Kilner Jars – is anyone else as obsessed with these as I am?! Kilner Jars and stationery are my thing.
Before the clear out, I kept buying duplicates because I struggled to see what was in the cupboard and tins of food were left to go out of date because I couldn’t get to them. Now I love being able to see exactly what we have and refill the jars when we’re running low on certain things. It’s also been easy to maintain our nicely organised cupboards which has made it so much easier when it’s time to meal prep. So let’s take a look at my healthy kitchen staples.
Tinned Chopped Tomatoes.
What’s a kitchen cupboard without a tin of chopped tomatoes? They form the basis of lots of our meals from bolognese, to chilli, to curries, to shakshuka and more. Sometimes we’ll buy ready-made sauces just for convenience, but our meals always taste better when we’ve made the sauce ourselves with tinned chopped tomatoes.
We always buy red onions, but whichever onion you prefer is fine. Onions make up the basis of most of our meals and add such great flavour. We’re never without onions!
Michael loves white potatoes and I love sweet potatoes so we always have both kinds to hand. Potatoes are so versatile and so filling, from jacket potatoes to mashed potato to chips – what’s not to love?! The only tricky part is not going overboard with the portion sizes.
Of course, this had to make the list, I feel like there is a tin of tuna in the back of everyone’s cupboard all over the country. Trusty tuna, it comes to our rescue when our cupboards are bare and we’re overdue a food shop, or when we just want a quick meal. My favourite way of eating tuna is mixing it with a bit of greek yoghurt, lemon juice, salt, cucumber, chopped spring onion and stuffing the mixture into a jacket sweet potato. Delicious!
These are so versatile and so handy to have in the cupboard at all times. Of course, they make delicious, healthy and filling breakfasts. Overnight oats are a quick and easy breakfast to take to work with me and don’t take up anytime when I’m rushing around in the morning. Michael hates porridge but he adds oats to his smoothies and post-workout shakes to keep him fuller for longer. Oats are also great for making healthier versions of baked goods like granola bars. You can even use them instead of breadcrumbs in chicken and fish dishes – just pulse them in a blender to whip up an oat crumb.
Rice, Quinoa and Pasta
I feel like I should give pasta a quick mention because this is something I regularly buy for Michael but I tend to avoid it because it bloats me and it is also highly processed. That’s not to say I never eat pasta, I just wouldn’t call it a staple as I try not to reach for it often. Instead, I prefer to opt for courgetti, brown rice or quinoa, depending on the meal. Michael makes the best rice, it’s fluffy every time! Rice and quinoa are perfect for both hot and cold dishes so I love how versatile they are. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll get wild rice, but usually, there’s always some type of rice in the cupboard.
These are not a staple for us personally, but beans are a great healthy addition to your meals so I thought they were worth mentioning. We do often have red kidney beans in the cupboard for adding to chillis and Michael loves baked beans for his weekend breakfasts. You can even make chocolate brownies with red kidney beans, which is something I’ve been meaning to try for a while now.
Nuts and Seeds.
These are perfect for snacking and adding to meals and pack a nutritional punch! I regularly take a small handful of nuts to work as a snack. At the moment, I’m loving cashews but I like to switch them up. I also love sprinkling seeds on top of my salads for a bit of crunch and a nutritional boost. I’m loving black sesame seeds right now as they’re said to help balance hormones, but I do switch them up. Then there are seeds like chia seeds and linseeds, which are perfect on top of porridge, yoghurts and smoothies.
I don’t think I need to tell you why I consider nut butter a kitchen staple. They’re so delicious, packed with good fats and make everything taste better. Use peanut butter to create a satay sauce, chill almond butter in ball shapes and coat with chocolate for a sweet snack, spread cashew butter onto toast and swap with sliced strawberries. They’re so versatile and so yummy – I’m salivating just thinking about nut butter!
I am never without honey! I gave up adding white, refined sugar to my food and drinks years ago so now I sweeten foods with honey, from my porridge to healthy desserts. I just love the taste of it!
Herbs and Spices.
Eating healthy can be quite bland and boring, but herbs and spices transform a meal. When I’m feeling lazy, I’ll season my food with mixed herbs, pink Himalayan salt and pepper. When I’m spending more time in the kitchen, I’ll rustle up my own herb and spice mixes.
Tea and Coffee.
As a Brit, this goes without saying – we love our tea! I stopped drinking regular tea years ago when I gave up cow’s milk and sugar. Tea just isn’t the same without milk and sugar! Now I drink herbal teas as I don’t need to sweeten them. My favourite is peppermint tea and I can drink several cups a day. We always have coffee in the flat because Michael loves his morning coffee but I can’t stand the stuff.
Coconut Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
These are the two oils that are always in our home. We tend to cook with coconut oil and use olive oil in dressings. I also use coconut oil for my hair and skin – just not the same jar as the one we cook with!
I avoided balsamic vinegar for years because I thought it tasted like regular vinegar. Oh how wrong I was! I just love the sweetness of balsamic vinegar and use it to dress my salads, steamed veg, soups and sauces. I feel like I’m always adding a dash to something so this always gets restocked.
So there you have it, you’ve officially had a peek into my cupboards and kitchen essentials. I love watching makeup collections and wardrobe tours on YouTube but clearly, I love food more than makeup and clothes so I thought this would be fun to do. Hopefully it’s given you some ideas for when you next do your food shop or reminded you of that tin of tuna hidden in the back, or given you some inspiration for cupboard organisation. The great thing about these items is that a lot of them last quite a long time, so you don’t need to keep buying them every week.
I’d love to know what your healthy kitchen essentials are. What are you always rebuying when you run out? Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to see what’s in my fridge and freezer, or if you’d like to see my healthy snack stash.