Wouldn’t it be great to eat gourmet-style food every day, without spending an arm and a leg? You may think that sounds crazy, but with a little creativity, it is more than possible. Oh, and did I mention that these foods will also help massively with your weight loss goals? This is, in fact, the real deal. So, how can my amazing claims be made into a reality? Two words: Pantry Essentials. That’s right. Stocking up on jarred, canned and dried food items means that you will never be without ingredients to make something both fabulous and healthy, and secondly, these items can be bought for much less than other healthy foods. Let’s mark this day as the last day we are tempted to order take out because we have nothing in the cupboards!
To start this list off, let’s see what jarred gems you should keep on hand for your new DIY gourmet kitchen…
Gems In A Jar
There is a huge variety of jarred foods that keep for a long time, taste great and most importantly, are good for you! Keep these items on hand for salads, wraps, snack-style plates, or get a little crazy and come up with your own dish with couscous or brown rice.
• Capers: if you love salt, this is great addition to literally any dish. Add them into sauces, too!
• Roasted Red Peppers: these little pieces of heaven are great on their own, with low fat feta cheese, on salads, in a wrap, stir fry – You name it!
• Olives: another gem that can go with almost anything, olives contain healthy oils.
• Chick Peas: they pack a great amount of protein and are very versatile, making chick peas (or any jarred peas/beans) an ideal item to keep in stock.
• Anchovies: packed with calcium and protein, anchovies are great with salads. One thing to be aware of though, they are high in sodium.
• Tomato Sauce: jarred tomato sauce is perfect for whole wheat pasta, on top of grilled veggies (eggplant is amazing!) or with some lean protein, like chicken.
• Beets: whether they are shredded or slides, beets are a diverse jarred food that pack huge health benefits, with lots of vitamins and minerals, low calorie, zero fat and very inexpensive.
Canned and Fabulous
Canned foods, similar to jarred, are also cheap, can be stored for a long time (unopened) and are varied in the types of food and flavors. Combining them with your favorite whole wheat grain and spices, you can really come up with some tasty dishes that have a real posh kick.
• Tuna/Salmon: canned fish is a great way to add lean protein to your diet for very little cost. They add a nice flavor to anything from salads to a veggie-pack baked dish.
• Artichokes: one of my top favorites, artichokes have a strong, salty flavor that instantly glamourize an otherwise boring meal.
• Mandarin Oranges: this sweet fruity treat gives lots of vitamin C and goes perfectly in all of your favorite Asian dishes, like with brown rice, low-sodium soy sauce and your favorite veggies!
• Pumpkin: in the spirit of this colorful season, pumpkin deserves some spotlight. Although not the most diverse, canned pumpkin is great for smoothies, soups and low-calorie risotto. It also has 3x the recommended daily amount of vitamin A in only ½ a cup!
• Pinto Beans: these beans have tons of fiber and a very high quality source of protein, deeming them a dieter’s dream!
• Water Chestnuts: with a healthy dose of vitamin B-6, fiber and potassium, this crunchy food is perfect in your favorite Asian dish, perhaps the one with mandarin oranges (above)!
Dried items at your local grocery store cover a lot of grounds; anything from grains, to fruits, to seeds and nuts. These items are also quite often very affordable, as well as healthy, so stocking up is never a bad thing. Coincidentally, these dried foods go perfect with all the jarred and canned items. See what I did there?!
• Grains/Pasta: probably the biggest staple of all the dried delights! Opt for options like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, couscous, quinoa, bulgur and orzo – and buy in bulk for the best price. It won’t go bad and is quick and convenient.
• Nuts/Seeds: some nuts and seeds can be more expensive than others, so try and buy in bulk as well, to save on the price. Peanuts, almonds, flax seed and mixed nuts are all great options, and can be added to salads and all sorts of dishes for a crunchy kick.
• Spices: dried spices have so many great qualities; they last forever, give any meal a delicious flavor and a lot of them actually help you lose weight by boosting metabolism (especially hot spices). The key to spices? Experiment!
Have you already made a mental list of what to buy on your next shopping trip? Or, are you already one foot out the door on your way to the store? I will only assume it is one of the two, as I really can’t see who wouldn’t want to eat like a rock star (on a ridiculously low budget – all of these items can be bought for less than $1). Combine these amazing food finds with your Phen Caps, and losing weight seems – dare I say it – easy!
What do you think of these fabulous foods? Do you have any you would add to the list, or better yet, any recipes you would recommend? Let us know by hitting the comments below!