While eating and drinking are essential to maintain our livelihood, it’s not enough to simply eat whatever our taste palates are craving or grabbing whatever bag of salty snacks are in our reach. Eating healthy can be a challenge and having an ill-stocked fridge only makes a healthy diet even more challenging. Having a well-stocked fridge on the other hand can yield wonderful, time-consuming results. And it’s not just for cooking your 3 – 5 meals, but for convenience’s sake – such grabbing a midnight snack, or an on-the-run bite. Here’s HFR’s top 10 essential foods to always have stocked in are some foods you should always have in your fridge.
- Milk – Milk is a staple product in many households. In fact, many of us may have fond memories of sitting at the breakfast table with a bowl of cereal and drowning the grains in milk. Maybe we’ve even been scolded by our parents for not drinking enough milk – and rightfully so. Milk is rich in calcium, potassium, and vitamin D, which are necessary to build strong teeth and bones, maintain healthy blood pressure as well as maintain healthy levels of phosophorous. When visiting the dairy section at the grocer’s, however, you may find yourself with different types of milk to choose from. The best kinds of milk would be skim, 1-2%, soy, and almond milk, as they are low in saturated fats (which can increase bad cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease!) while still providing essential vitamins and minerals
- Lean meat – The U.S. Department of Agriculture describes lean as having “less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per [serving] and per 100 grams.” Round steaks and roasts, pork tenderloin, ham, skinless chicken breast and turkey cuts, lean roast beef, salmon and trout are some examples of lean meat. Be sure to trim away any visible fats and avoid frying so you consume the same healthy meat you purchased!
- Spinach – This super green leafy vegetable is an easy way to add some nutrients like vitamin A and calcium to any meal you prepare. You can add it to sandwiches, pasta, soups, or even on top of a pizza. You can even blend it into your smoothies without a noticeable change in flavor. Furthermore, a 2014 study conducted by Lund University in Sweden found that frequent intake of spinach can decrease unhealthy food cravings and significantly aid in weight loss.
- Fruits – Fruits are the healthy snack/dessert alternative we all enjoy. They’re an easy-to-grab food to munch on, especially while you’re on the go. Each fruit, of course, packs its own sweet punch with various vitamins and minerals in each, and there are a plethora of fruits to choose from to satisfy want of variety and taste palate. Grab some apples, bananas, pears, oranges, kiwis, berries – whatever you like – and blend them into a smoothie, add them to your morning oatmeal, or save them for a late night snack.
- Fresh cut veggies – While we already touched on spinach, it’s good to have a variety of veggies on hand for cooking or as quick snack to munch on. If you are craving something crunchy and tasty, make a salad with lettuce, baby carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, avocado, broccoli, and sliced bell pepper. For leafy veggies you can cook, try water spinach and bok choy!
- Lemons/Limes – Lemons deserve their own bullet apart from the fruits as they can be used for a number of things (and frankly, there are relatively few people who can snack on a lemon the way you can munch on an orange). Always have some lemons or limes in your fridge so you can squeeze some in your water, tea, and even solid meals for a zest of flavor. Lemon are also known as a prominent ingredient in juice cleanses due to their acidity.
- Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt could be a great healthy dessert replacement for a high-calorie one, like regular yogurt or even ice cream when Greek yogurt is frozen. Plain Greek yogurt can even serve as a substitute for sour cream and butter.
- Eggs: Eggs are very nutritious, probably one of the most nutrient dense natural foods out there. Some nutritionists call them the perfect food because they contain a small amount of almost every essential nutrient the body needs. There’s a reason why eggs are a staple breakfast item (though they are most certainly well-enjoyed at all times of the day) as egg whites are a good source of protein and low in low-density lipids (bad cholesterol). Speaking of cholesterol, one common myth suggests egg intake (especially egg yolks) should be limited due to the amount of cholesterol in them, but this is slightly false. As a matter of fact, eggs are high in high-density lipids (good cholesterol) and a 2006 study found that 70% of their subjects experienced mild or no increase in LDL levels.
- Peanut butter: This fulfilling and irresistible snack always satisfies your sweet tooth and tummy. Aim for all-natural peanut butter, which usually contains peanuts, salt, and maybe one other ingredient. Even though it is heavy in fat, peanut butter has some other essential nutrients as well, like a fair amount of protein and some vitamins and minerals. You can never go wrong having a toast with peanut butter as a quick breakfast; or you can also just grab a spoon full of peanut butter before a morning jog or a post-workout.
- Low-fat cheese: Everybody loves cheese. We all snack on it and add it to all our meals. Mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, cottage, Monterey Jack, provolone – all very enjoyable cheeses, but aim for reduced-fat or low-fat versions. The best ways to have your cheese would be sliced, string or shredded cheese so as to promote portion awareness and serving size, and so you do not eat more than you should. With block cheese, make certain to
For more on nutrition, check out our top 10 health benefits of going on a raw food diet, going on a juice cleanse, what to look for on nutrition labels, and our top ten free health and fitness apps to make grocery shopping easier!