Insufficient time to prepare meals and snacks is the most common theme I see in private practice and elite sport. People are busy and often the food they are eating is the last thing on their mind. I am constantly giving clients meal and snack suggestions that can help them achieve their goals both on and off the training track. I am always including options that are nutritious as well as being quick and easy to prepare for time poor clients, which let’s be honest we are all time poor these days. I’ve created a list of fridge and pantry staples to help you get the most out of your meals and snacks without needing to spend hours in the kitchen.
Oats– High in fibre and providing long lasting energy these are the perfect breakfast or snack option. Make into porridge for a warm winter breakfast or overnight oats for a busy morning, oats will help control your appetite and can be made in so many different ways.
Home brand oats are exactly the same as the more expensive brands but will save you at the register.
Brown rice and quinoa– These mixes are great to provide you with energy and help control your appetite. Together they offer two different plant varieties which is fantastic for gut health. Cook your own at home or the quick cups provide a quick solution for when you are time poor.
Whole grain bread, rolls or wraps- So many clients avoid the trusty protein and salad sandwich or wrap. This is a perfectly healthy and delicious meal options that requires little preparation. Add your choice of protein, salad or vegetables and some healthy fats to create a balanced meal. Keep a loaf of bread in the freezer to have on hand if you run out of fresh options.
Grainy crisp breads or corn thins– High in fibre and providing long lasting energy, they are the perfect pantry filler that can be used as a meal option or a snack. Add some protein and colour to create a delicious meal or snack. Some of my favourites include:
-Cheese with tuna, avocado and sliced tomato
-Cottage cheese with sliced tomato
-Chicken, cheese and avocado
-Peanut butter and banana before training
Wholemeal pasta– High in fibre and slow release carbohydrate, wholemeal pasta is an excellent pantry staple. They have a long shelf life and can be prepared in a number of different ways. Combine with your choice of protein, add some colour and a sauce and dinner is done. Make into a bake or cook and cool it down straight away to increase the resistant starch. Eating pasta this way will give the good bacteria in your gut something to feed on.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)- The only oil to have in your pantry. A good quality Australian EVOO is the best oil to be using for all of your cooking and baking needs. EVOO can retain its antioxidant level at high temperatures so it can be used in a variety of ways. Including but not limited to; Stir fry’s, frying, baking, roasting or drizzled on salads, it can be used for all of your requirements in the kitchen. EVOO contains polyphenols which can reduce inflammation, reduce bad cholesterol and aid in overall heart health.
Nuts and seeds- These are packed full of healthy fats including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as being low in saturated fat. A good source of omega 3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds can help to reduce bad cholesterol and aid in overall heart health. Nuts and seeds are also a good source of protein and can help aid in appetite control. To include more nuts and seeds in your diet you could have a handful of nuts as a snack, add them to your salads or stir fry’s or put them in a smoothie. They are great to keep in the pantry due to their long shelf life.
Avocado- Packed full of monounsaturated fats, avocados can help to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol which can aid in reducing your risk of heart disease. Packed full of fibre and plenty of vitamins and minerals, these small fruits pack quite a punch. Avocado’s are very energy dense due to their fat content so should be consumed in moderation if weight management is your goal. They are super versatile and can be used in a number of different ways including in salads and sandwiches, on toast with breakfast, in smoothies or as guacamole just to name a few.
Greek Yoghurt– A food I find myself talking about all the time with clients. Greek yoghurt is low in fat and sugar, and naturally high in protein. It can aid in appetite control as well as act as the perfect addition to breakfast or your next snack. Be on the lookout for Greek Style yoghurt compared to Greek yoghurt (see The Injury Clinic Instagram post for the difference). A plain, natural Greek yoghurt is preferred however Chobani FIT and YoPRO have delicious flavours in small tubs or tubes that contain no added sugar.
Can Tuna/Salmon– The perfect pantry staple! A long shelf life, high in protein and no preparation required. A great option to add to meals or snacks to increase the protein content. Add to microwave rice and frozen veg for an easy lunch or dinner option or add to crisp breads for a delicious afternoon snack.
Cottage cheese– Very high in protein and calcium, and low in fat, cottage cheese is a great option to add to meals or snacks. Add to crisp bread or corn thins to provide a source of protein, use in bakes or casseroles for a lower energy alternative or use in baking such as pancakes or healthy muffins or cookies.
Eggs– A super easy option to make that is packed full of protein and other micronutrients including Vitamin D. Quick to make as well as super cheap they are the perfect addition to meals and snacks. Boiled eggs can be a great snack option as well as including them on crisp bread or in a salad. Omelettes, frittatas, egg muffins or slices are all great ways to include eggs into your diet. The Heart Foundation have no limit to the number of eggs a healthy person can eat per week.
Beans, lentils and legumes- This broad range of food offers an abundance of nutrients. Packed full of protein, quality carbohydrates, fibre and vitamins and minerals. They are extremely cheap and can be canned, fresh or dried. Add them to pastas, casseroles, soups, stews, salads, stir fry’s and more.
Fruit and vegetables
I often get asked the question about which is best, fresh or frozen. The truth is they are exactly the same! Keeping frozen fruit or vegetables in the freezer is a great way to ensure you will always have some colour on hand. Packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables are the powerhouses that keep us healthy. Add to your smoothie, morning cereal or simply use to bulk out main meal options. A great way to avoid wasting food and money when fresh fruit or vegetables go bad.
Next time you go to the supermarket make sure you stock up on some of these essentials. All great options to keep at home that will help you create healthy and delicious meals and snacks no matter how much time you have.