Here’s a list of 3 helpful and healthy pantry staples to have on hand to help your weekly meals. Short on time? Not enough food in the fridge? Need protein? These items hit the mark on all of them. Check out the links for some additional information. Follow @homegrownurban on Instagram for ideas on some of the meals listed below.
Dry beans (or canned) - Having beans allows you to make quick and easy meals that are affordable, filling, high in fiber and quite nutritious. Opt for locally sourced beans whenever you can. Sometimes beans are filled with pesticides, but buying them from a trusted source is helpful.
Use: soups, salads, stews, dips, roasted for toppings or snacks (esp chickpeas). Ground bean flour is gaining in popularity for GF replacements on flour. Bean recipes are everywhere so find a few varieties of beans you like and experiment. Not sure what to do with dry beans? Just rinse a few times, soak overnight or 3-6 hours, put in a crockpot with a little onion, bay leaf and salt. You can add more things if you like, but that alone is good enough. You can use the beans with the water (potlikker) or you can drain and use just the beans.
Dry- affordable, long shelf life, easy to store, great flavor in potlikker.
Canned- already cooked, not too expensive, no pre-planning. (look for BPA Free)
Tinned Fish - Tinned fish is making a really big comeback with the younger generation. There are all kinds of local and ethically sourced fish with all kinds of flavors and smokes. There are more options to us now than just “chicken of the sea”. Check out your local store, Trader Joe’s, online, or even when you’re traveling for some great options on tinned fish. Often these varieties are smaller fish, but items like tuna are large fish so be mindful of how often you consume large fish.
Use: Excellent for salads (I’ve shared on IG feed), pastas, dips/pate, sandwiches, or just on the side. With tinned fish you can eat the skin and bones which is where a lot of nutrients are. Small fish like anchovies, sardines, herring, trout, and mackerel are excellent sources of Omega 3.
In water- Usually a brine solution where you can toss out the water and use. Fewer calories
In oil- adds flavor and allows you to use the fish and some of the oil if making salads or pastas. Extra calories, but if in olive oil a great source of good fats.
Nuts - Having a few varieties of nuts are an excellent way to add protein to your food and also to dress up some dishes. Nuts should be consumed sparingly since they are high in calories, but they are an excellent source of fats, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and can help with some inflammation based illnesses.
Use: use sparingly, but consider adding a variety of nuts to your diet. Almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, etc can be used for salads, pesto, roasted veggies, stir fry, baked goods, or just eaten in small quantities. Nuts are a great staple but can get rancid easily so keep in a cool dry place or store it in your fridge or freezer. Use organic when possible as some varieties are heavily sprayed. Make your own pesto or nutella with a mix of greens and nuts and experiment. It’s a lot easier than you think (on IG feed).
Raw- Usually no salt and just the nut. Can become rancid quickly so store or use within a few months.
Roasted/ Salted/ Smoked- Flavors and salts added. Often there will be an oil added or heat if they are roasted. These can be tricky so definitely do your homework and read labels. They too get rancid but have a slightly longer shelf life. Not ideal for pesto or nutella and often just consumed on their own. Unfortunately flavored nuts are loaded with flavor compounds that trigger the brain to want more thus making us consume too many. Be mindful of the flavored “snack” nuts.