Which of the following statements describes you? 1. I plan meals for the week 2. I plan meals 1-2 days ahead of time 3. I plan dinner at breakfast time 4. I plan dinner on the way home from work 5. I drop into the store and then figure out what to eat 6. For the most part, I don’t plan at all and just grab whatever the family is in the mood to eat If you are best described by #1-#3…congrats to you and your meal planning! If you are described by #4-#6…perhaps you might benefit from creating the time to plan a morewell stocked kitchen . Here are some of my favorite seasonal kitchen staples, along with with health tips and recipe ideas: PANTRY: Grains

  • Brown rice (Uncle Ben’s Ready Whole Grain Rice cooks quickly)
  • Whole wheat pasta (I add frozen vegetables in the last couple of minutes of cooking the pasta to get an additional serving of veggies in)
  • Quinoa (high protein, nutritious grain that cooks similar to rice) – red quinoa is the most delicious
  • Oats (Quaker 1 minute oats, not the packaged sugary stuff)
  • Whole grain cereals (at least 4 grams of fiber, and no more than 8 grams of sugar)

Canned goods :

  • Canned beans / Canned refried beans (chickpeas, white beans, refried black beans) Add to salads, make a quick bean burrito, turn chickpeas to hummus
  • Canned diced tomatoes (roasted tomatoes are delicious)
  • Tomato sauce (less than 80 calories per ½ cup) – more calories, more added sugar
  • Jarred Roasted Red Bell Peppers (add to salads, pizza, sandwiches, use in hummus)

Vacuum sealed light tuna (light tuna has less mercury than white)  Add plain yogurt plus mayonnaise to increase calcium and flavor) Salsa Peanut/nut butter (have you tried Target’s Archer Farms Cranberry Vanilla Peanut Butter? WOW. Nuts Assortment of dried fruits Spices (cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, etc) Cinnamon has been shown to regulate blood sugars, add to morning cereal Honey/Molasses Olive Oil Balsamic Vinegar (makes a great salad dressing with oil, honey, and mustard) REFRIGERATOR Corn/wheat tortillas Tahini paste (for hummus) Eggs (breakfast for dinner…egg omelet with toasted English muffin) Vegetables (carrots, kale, broccoli, spinach, vitamin D rich sliced mushrooms etc) Fruits (pears, asian pears, oranges, grapefruits) Skim, 1% milk, fortified non-dairy milk Low-fat cheese (shredded and sliced) Low-fat yogurt Fresh sliced deli meat Iron rich meat (pork, lean beef, turkey) Low-fat mayonnaise, mustard, lemon/lime juice, prepared pesto sauce I Keep these out on the counter… Garlic, potatoes/sweet potatoes, onions, spaghetti squash, apples FREEZER Vegetable burgers Frozen fish (salmon, cod loins, tilapia, shrimp, scallops) Whole grain bread (at least 3 grams of fiber per slice) grains freeze great! Whole grain English muffins Frozen whole grain waffles Frozen vegetables (back up when takes too long to cook fresh) Frozen fruit (blueberries, etc) Ground flax/chia seeds (great omega-3 rich food to add to oatmeal, smoothies, baked goods) Dark chocolate (necessary after dinners) Nutrient Packed Meal Ideas BreakfastOatmeal with nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon and hardboiled egg Whole grain waffles topped with blueberries and yogurt Eggs with spinach, mushrooms, cheese, and a whole grain English muffin Snacks Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus with carrots Mixed nuts, dried fruit and cereal Corn tortilla with refried beans, cheese, and salsa Lunch Tuna fish salad (use light tuna + 1/2 yogurt for mayo)  made with dried cranberries and sliced apples Veggie burger on a whole wheat English muffin with a side of carrots, apple and yogurt Baked potato topped with shredded cheese, turkey meat, broccoli and salsa Dinner Spaghetti squash pasta with marinara and lean ground beef plus salad Fish tacos with corn tortillas, sautéed tilapia, cheese, beans, salsa, and a side of zucchini Pan Seared Pork tenderloin with sautéed kale and baked sweet potato Pesto Scallops over whole wheat pasta and a salad Plan, Stock, Cook, and the best part…ENJOY.

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.