Have you ever tried to start eating healthy or go on a diet but have that one food that you cannot just give up?
I have always been about clean eating but back in my high school days, I ate Top Ramen every single day after school. And I KNEW it was bad for me.
It was cheap and my mom always kept it in the pantry. It took 5-7 minutes to cook and it fulfilled my salty snack cravings. I craved it like a drug addict and had a hard time giving it up.
Not that we can’t have a guilty pleasure of eating fries or ice cream, but we don’t want to be slaves to our taste buds. We are on a path to eating clean, more well-balanced meals and we still need those cheap price points. Well, maybe not 20 cents a meal cheap, but you get what I mean.
Because foods high in salt, sugar, and fat also make you want to eat more. When you eat foods that are nutrient dense your body will become better at realizing when it’s full. You will stop having those crazy cravings that come out of nowhere. These are the foods that will help break you of those addictions and get you back on track.
Here are some of my go-to healthy nutrient-rich foods that I always keep in stock in our pantry…
Pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and chickpeas. Beans are high in protein and fiber and low in saturated fat and sodium. With dried beans, you will have to do some prepping ahead of time because they take longer to cook. But it is well worth it beacuse they are much healthier than the canned version and a lot cheaper!
Dried beans can be stored in an airtight container and last two to three years.
Brown rice is the whole grain version of white rice. It includes minerals that our bodies use such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B-6. It’s great for people with diabetes because it is low on the glycemic index. Ever since I made the switch to brown rice from white rice, I’ve noticed that I stay fuller longer without feeling weighed down after eating it.
Storing it in an airtight container out of bright light will keep it good for 3 to 6 months.
Quinoa is great for those who are sensitive to gluten because it is gluten-free! This superfood is high in protein and is full of minerals and vitamins: Fiber, magnesium, vitamin B, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and other antioxidants.
If stored in an airtight container, quinoa can last up to 2 to 3 years in the pantry.
Peanuts are a great source of protein and minerals. Just make sure to buy them lightly salted or unsalted if you can. They are low on the glycemic index, high in protein, and fiber, and have many minerals and vitamins that our bodies need: biotin, copper, vitamin B3 or niacin, folate, vitamin E, thiamin, phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium. What’s the difference between manganese (Mn) and magnesium (Mg). Manganese is a transition metal (meaning it is always found bound to another element) while magnesium is an alkaline earth metal. Both are essential metals that our bodies need.
Shelled peanuts can be kept in an airtight container for up to a year. If the peanuts have their shells you can keep them in the fridge up to 3 months. In the freezer peanuts can be kept up to 6 months.
Oatmeal is another gluten-free option that is also low on the glycemic index. Be sure to buy oats in their whole form because quick cooking oats are highly processed. You don’t get the full nutritional bang for your buck once their processed. Oatmeal contains manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, thiamine (B1), and pantothenic acid (B5).
In an airtight container, oatmeal can be stored for 18 to 24 months.
Peas and Carrots
Frozen peas and carrots are good to keep in the freezer to add to pasta, rice dishes, or even use as a side dish. It’s a good source of protein, niacin, folate, iron, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamine, and manganese.
Peas and carrots can be stored in the freezer in their original package for about 8-10 months.
Popcorn can be a healthy snack when purchased by the kernels and not in the prepackaged bags you just through in the microwave. The microwave bags are known to cause cancer because the bags contain a chemical called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) that are released into the popcorn when the bag is heated up. You can avoid this by simply putting the popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag with some salt and a little bit of butter and put it in the microwave. It’s cheaper, and you can control how much salt and butter goes into your popcorn (win, win!). Popcorn is a good source of fiber, niacin, thiamine, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Popcorn kernels stored in an airtight container can be kept in the pantry for up to 2 years.
Whole Wheat Pasta
Even though white pasta tends to be a little bit cheaper than whole wheat, it is definitely worth the extra cents. The main difference between regular pasta and whole wheat pasta is that white pasta is stripped from all of its nutrients during processing. This takes away much of its nutrient value. Whole wheat pasta is not only better nutritionally but it will also help keep you full longer and help with taming those crazy cravings. Whole wheat pasta is high in fiber, manganese, selenium, copper, and phosphorus.
In an airtight container, you can store whole wheat pasta for up to 2 years.
When buying peanut butter you want to avoid buying brands that have extra ingredients other than peanuts and maybe some salt. Generally, a good rule of thumb when buying any food is the lesser the ingredients on the label and more you can pronounce the better it is for you. Same thing with peanut butter. Peanut butter is a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, vitamin B3, B5, and B6, folate, magnesium, copper, iron, potassium, zinc, selenium, and manganese.
Once a jar of peanut butter is opened, it can stay good in the pantry for up to 4 months.
I think of eggs almost like a daily vitamin. They are FULL of nutrition. If you think about it, an egg is meant to provide all of the building blocks to create a little chicken. All the proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins that are needed to grow and survive. Even better, they are carb free and don’t contain any sugar. They taste good, can be cooked so many different ways, added to salads, sandwiches, burgers, and they are CHEAP! Occasionally, I can buy eggs for 99 cents a dozen. That’s about .08 cents an egg for a great source of protein and vitamins.
Eggs are high in protein, phosphorus, selenium, iodine, vitamin B2, B12, B5, folate, vitamin A and E, DHA, and choline.
If you keep eggs in the fridge, they will stay good for up to 5 weeks. You can also store eggs in the freezer for up to a year if you find a good deal and want to stock up.
Boneless skinless chicken is a great source of low fat protein. It’s great for people who are gluten sensitive, diabetic, and on a keto diet. In southern California, the typical price of chicken I see at Winco, Stator Bros., and Aldi is about 1.99/lb (2019 prices). I will usually stock up if I see it for $1.77/lb or less and although rare, I have seen it for .99/lb. Yes in southern California in 2019. Chicken is a good source of selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, and niacin.
Buy it in the large packs, cut off all the fat, cut the breasts into proportioned pieces, and store it in the quart freezer bags for up to 9 months.
Stocking up with these items will help keep your grocery budget under control and give you the nutrient dense foods your body needs to fight off the addiction to other foods. Because your body will get what it needs, you will notice that your cravings will be lessened.
Try to add some of these to your next meal plan and let me know how it goes!