Have you ever felt overwhelmed with all of this meal prep talk, healthy eating, portions, macro counting, the list goes on and on? Well this post is for you babe.
I recently had a follower reach out to me and ask some advice for eating healthy in her unique situation. She will be moving to a place with limited options for stores, and a limited income. I’ve worked with young students who may think it’s impossible to afford to eat healthy on there budget. I’ve also received other questions along the lines of, “I never know what to make with whats in my fridge. Then I get frustrated and just end up heating up a pizza or something because its easier. How do you know what to make?” I’ve also been in unique situations myself, living a broad this last year when I didn’t have access to what my normal healthy meal prep consisted of in the U.S. but found some awesome healthy substitutes wherever I was and made it work. We were also on an extremely tight, intern budget, but made it work!
What I want to focus on today is how you can build healthy meals with just a few staple ingredients. If you always have these things on hand, include them in your weekly grocery list, you can add leftovers from dinner to them, add different seasonal vegetables, and always fill full and satisfied after the meal.
I’m going to share some of my staple, simple ingredients, that can be the base to a quick and healthy meal, any day of the week, and some you can make ahead of time and throw together when the hunger hits.
1. Cauliflower Rice. You can obviously make this on your own, and its a bit cheaper. But if the dollars not a huge loss for you, I would recommend investing in the pre-“riced” - cauliflower. It’s extremely convenient and creates less of a mess in your kitchen, and its becoming easier and easier to find! I usually get mine at Trader Joe’s, but I’ve been hearing more and more stores are catching the vision. Why I love it? This can be a base to any meal, and you automatically are getting a vegetable in. You can heat it up in the microwave, or sauté in a pan. It’s a LOT faster than cooking up regular rice, great for a quick meal. Works as a base to any meat/sauce combo, or with any veggies. You won’t miss the starchy, high carb alternatives.
2. Ground meat, Turkey or Beef or Chicken, Grass-fed/Organic preferably. Look for good deals and keep extra in your freezer. Why do I love it? Well being ground meat, it cooks up pretty quick, so you can throw it in a pan, add some seasoning, and you have your protein for your meal in about 8 minutes. Another reason is because it can be so versatile. I use this meat for anything from burgers and meat balls, to stuffed peppers, loaded sweet potatoes, on top of cauliflower rice with veggies, the list goes on.
3. GREENS. Whatever you prefer, kale, spinach, arugula, it’s all delicious and so good for you! Don’t be afraid of buying in large amounts. The tubs at Costco are the best deal, and if you don’t go through it all before it starts to wilt, you can always put it in a bag and freeze it to throw into your smoothies. Why I love it? Well besides all the well known health benefits of leafy greens, when you stock up with this stuff, you will be more likely to eat your vegetables at every meal. You can make a salad bowl with all your toppings rather than a bread sandwich, throw some greens into your eggs, smoothies, and even in with your cauliflower rice and ground turkey! Don’t forget you can add a couple of handfulls to any hot dish on low heat, cover with a lid, and the greens will slightly cook in there.
4. Eggs. I always have eggs on hand! Why do I love them? They’re full of healthy goodness, great source of protein, healthy fats, they’re affordable and so versatile as well. It will take you 10 minutes to make up a batch of hardboiled eggs on Sunday that will last you for the week. With the hard boiled eggs you can make an egg salad, cut them up on top of a green salad, slice them on toast or a cracker, or even just eat them plain with some salt and pepper. If you’re not fond of hardboiled eggs, you can fry them, sunny side up on some avocado toast (my favorite), or scramble them up with whatever veggies you have on hand. Another option that makes a great and filling dinner is Frittata style, or the crustless quiche. You can add whatever you want! Greens, veggies, tuna, or if you’re feeling fancy, throw in some shrimp or salmon. Sooo good. Eggs are healthy and delicious for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And of course you can even have them with everything on this list! Cauliflower rice, with some greens, ground turkey meat, and throw an egg on top!
5. Avocados. If I could have any tree right outside my back door it would be an avocado tree. I’m slightly obsessed. Why I love them? They are packed with healthy fats, that will keep your body satisfied and burning fat throughout the day. They are also so versatile! When you have some avocados around, your healthy meal options go way up, and the deliciousness is automatically taken to the next level. I enjoy them plain with some seasoning, or with cottage cheese, on Avocado Toast (so many more options there), salad topper, sweet potato topper, smoothie addition (extra creaminess and fats!), chocolate mousse, guacamole with onion & tomato, and of course you can add it right on top of our healthy list here. A cauliflower rice bowl, with greens, ground turkey, eggs, and avocado! They can be a bit expensive depending on where you live, but I’ve found that the 4 pack at Trader Joe’s is usually one of the cheaper options.
So there you have it, 5 simple, staple ingredients, that become building blocks for several healthy meals to keep you on track throughout your busy week. They won’t brake the bank, and you’ll have plenty of options to keep the menu interesting. Have fun in the kitchen, mix and match, add different flavors, create new combinations, figure out what you love and what gets you excited about eating healthy!