I’ve been meaning to write this for some time, and I get asked lots of questions about what food items to keep in our cupboards. Having a well stocked kitchen and lots of fresh produce are essential to keeping your diet clean and healthy. There are some things you want to make sure you always have, key ingredients. You of course want lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and I mean LOTS! And then you want to make these interesting and satiating with extra bits and pieces from your cupboards.
So here is what I usually have in my fridge, and in my cupboards. Build these up slowly, keep them in airtight containers and for the more expensive items I look online and bulk buy. I have saved so much money from buying huge bags of chia seeds, for example. If you are lucky enough to have a health store that sells by weight and the cost is comparable, then local is always best. But unfortunately, sometimes these stores can be prohibitively expensive and only stock the priciest brands. So look around and do a search, especially for nuts and seeds which can cost a lot. Go organic where you can afford to. Keep your canned goods to a minimum, it only takes a bit of organisation to soak instead. I like to keep certain things together for ease, like all my seeds, nuts and dried foods together so I can easily make up my soaked overnight oats, for example .
It is really important to eat both locally and seasonally. The quality of our produce affects its nutrient value. Food that has flown long distance, been picked before it is ripe and mass produced in single crop farms, have a significantly reduced level of nutrients.
Seek out your local farmers market, get to know the farmers and stall holders and speak to them about buying larger quantities for green smoothies or juicing. If you don’t have a farmers market near you, look for an organic fruit and veg delivery scheme, I use Riverford. The worst place to shop for fruit and vegetables is the supermarket, organic is far more expensive here and much of it has been grown out of season and flown long distance. Do your research and find sources that are nearby, cost effective and organic if possible, or at least from small farmers. And of course, you can always grow your own! Even if you have just a sunny windowsill to grow herbs on, most of us have some place we can grow something. If you have children they particularly enjoy growing their own food. My daughter and I aren’t the best gardeners, and we can be pretty neglectful! But somehow we manage to grow things. Tomatoes are particularly resilient to our inexperience and lack of care! Certain leafy greens are also easy to grow, spinach just keeps going! And herbs are always a joy for children, the smell from a small herb garden is intoxicating and very rewarding.
Key Ingredients for Healthy Eating
Fresh fruit and vegetables
Eat seasonally. Rotate your greens but make sure you always have some. Have plenty of starchy root vegetables, and seasonal fruit every day. A large part of my diet is fresh vegetables and to a lesser extent, fruit. As you can see from the peek in my own fridge, most of it contains fresh vegetables. For information about seasonal foods in your area follow these links:
My apologies if your country is not listed, I went through where I seem to get the most action on the blog! Also handy for plant eaters particularly is dried mushrooms, very good for you and great at adding a ‘fleshy’ texture. I like porcini and shiitake.
- Quinoa, both red and ivory
- Brown Rice
- Wild Rice
Please see this previous post specifically on grains and concerns about them, with a link to a comprehensive list of grains available.
- lentils, all types
These are the 3 I always have, and then I regularly get a few others for variation i.e. pecans, pistachio etc
- chia seeds
- flaxseed or linseed
- hemp seeds
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- sesame seeds
Seeds are usually cheaper than nuts, are versatile and an important addition to your diet. I always have lots of seeds in my cupboards.
- dates are your best source and can be used to create a simple syrup using water and a blender
- lucuma powder
It is great to have fresh herbs, and to grind spices using their whole form. However, this is not always possible so dried or ground is fine, just don’t store them for too long. Here are my favourites that you will see in many of my recipes;
- smoked paprika
- cayenne pepper
- cumin, ground and seeds
- coriander, ground, seeds and fresh
- turmeric, ground and whole
- hot chilli powder and fresh chillies
- ginger, root and ground
- nutmeg, whole if possible
- vanilla, pods and powder
- bay leaves
Superfoods and powders
- pods & powders: cacao, maca
- green powders or micro algae such as chlorella
- super fruits powders such as acai
Go here for a previous article with a few more suggestions and descriptions ( these aren’t absolutely essential either ).
- Stoneground Flours
- baking powder- aluminium and sodium free is good if you can get it
- flaxseeds and chia seeds
- natural sweeteners, listed above
- ground almonds
- coconut butter and oil
- nut milks
A note about Oils
I try and limit my intake of oils, they’re not whole foods and it is very easy to overdo it. I advise you to try and eliminate or reduce them significantly.