“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
– Virginia Woolf
What are your kitchen staples? Some can rattle off their top ten in seconds. Others reading this may have trouble even conceptualizing foods that are hanging around their kitchen.
Almost all of us have favorite foods. Most of us have a few tried-and-true meals that we depend on. Many have routine breakfasts and a handful of reliable snacks we enjoy. Perhaps we may even have a supply of multi-purpose foods that can be used in different ways throughout the week.
For those in recovery from disordered eating and eating disorders, having wholesome staple foods available is critical to reaching basic nutrition goals. Some of the most important work done in nutrition counseling is identifying these foods and assuring they are always in your cupboards (or pantries or refrigerators).
We have discussed tips and tricks for mastering your meal plan, so this month we are going a step further and discussing the details of your handy dandy grocery list. Everyone has different taste preferences and likes/dislikes. However, we all need the same general things such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fruits, veggies, and of course sweets! When making your list, keep this in mind and assure that you have at least one thing from each category. Below is an example of food staples that I rely on and most often suggest to my clients:
1. Nut butter
Nut butters are one of the most versatile items in any (including my own) kitchen. It’s nutritious, delicious and it’s non-perishable! You can use it on waffles in the mornings, between two pieces of bread in the afternoon and in smoothies or paired with a fruit and/or crackers for snacks. For a wonderful breakfast or snack that incorporates this amazing food see my overnight oats recipe.
2. Olive oil
Olive oil is great for cooking (best at a low heat), or as a base for salad dressings and dips. It is one of the most versatile oils in the game, and has an array of health benefits as well!
Whole wheat, white, multigrain, sourdough… you really can’t go wrong! I typically keep my bread in the freezer or refrigerator to stay fresh longer. A quick zap in the toaster and you’ve got a sandwich or toast ready in minutes. Mix some eggs and milk and create phenomenal French Toast. Melt some cheese and boom...grilled cheese. It’s even a perfect accompaniment to soup on a cold day (Autumn coming soon wink, wink).
4. Frozen vegetables
Frozen veggies are where it’s at! They are typically more nutrient-dense than fresh veggies because they are picked at the peak of freshness and flash frozen, meaning their nutrition is preserved as they are transported to you. Use them as a side dish, on salads, create soups or as a part of a balanced snack. They are non-perishable and super easy to work with. Talk about a win!
Bananas are one of my go-to fruits not only because they are so versatile (my favorite is on top of oatmeal), but also because they freeze really well. Frozen bananas work great in smoothies or blended for a yummy frozen treat. Over-ripe bananas can also be made into delicious banana bread. So many possibilities!
A huge part of recovery is honoring your cravings. It is important to be realistic and be honest about the things you enjoy. It is a common mistake to avoid buying things you want because your ED says you shouldn’t have it. Ultimately this may lead to increased ED urges and behaviors. I love chocolate and crave it often so I make sure to have some form of it available for when the sweet tooth strikes!
Eggs are one of the most nutritious and easily prepared forms of protein around. Scramble them, fry them, hard-boil them! They are also common in many recipes, especially when baking. They have a relatively long shelf-life (3-5 weeks in the refrigerator) and are inexpensive as well.
8. Greek yogurt
I prefer full-fat plain Greek yogurt so I can use it in both sweet and savory dishes. One of my staple breakfasts is yogurt, granola, and berries. For this I add honey and cinnamon to sweeten the yogurt. Some savory uses of Greek yogurt include dips, salad dressings, and sauces.
Rice is very inexpensive, easy to prepare, and super versatile. Plus you can keep it in your cabinet forever. If cooking rice intimidates you, perhaps consider a rice cooker or choose frozen varieties. Work smarter, not harder!
10. Canned tuna
This list wouldn’t be complete without something canned, and my favorite is tuna. Inexpensive? Check. Non-perishable? Check. Versalite? Check. Nutritious? Check! Loaded with protein and healthy fats, tuna comes through in the clutch. I always make sure to have a few cans handy.
I recommend taking some time this week to sit down and write out your list of kitchen staples. For those who worry about having food in the house due to high bingeing urges, consult with your dietitian. Creating a plan to gradually incorporate foods back into your kitchen can be a huge and scary step in your recovery. Recovery is hard, but having the foods you need at hand makes it easier! What are your kitchen staples? We would love to hear from you! Comment below and let us know what foods get you through the week. Happy shopping!