Staple foods in the kitchen

Stocking your kitchen doesn’t have to be overwhelming and expensive.

It is hard to know what to stock in a kitchen when there are so many different foods to cook and serve for dinner. Other things to consider are family favorites, including affordability. No matter what you stock your cupboard with there are a few basic items that can make a creative healthy meal. Michigan State University Extension recommends shopping with a list to make healthy, planned purchases.

In the cupboard store beans; any kind can add protein to any meal. By mashing them and adding them to a whole wheat tortilla with cheese, roll together and you have a quick, simple dish. Rice is another item that should be considered on the staple item list. White or whole grain rice is a healthy and filling choice. Whole wheat bread, oatmeal, crackers, cereal and whole grain pasta contribute towards daily fiber needed and also leave you feeling full for longer.

Boneless skinless chicken, lean beef and as mentioned above, beans add protein to a meal aiding to an all-around healthy diet. You can store meats in cans or freeze. Watch for sales and purchase meats when they are on sale and divide them to meal portion sizes and freeze. This way, meats are affordable and later ready for use when you need them. Add fish, salmon, tuna, turkey pork and nuts (peanut butter) to the selection of protein in your cupboard.

Fruits and vegetables are best when they are fresh but if stores are too far away or you buy and abundance when produce is in season, canning or freezing are options. Fruits and vegetables are more affordable when they are in season, so be aware of what is in season in your area. Every area of the state will produce differently. Fresh potatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, spinach and cabbage are good choices. Canned or frozen corn green beans, tomatoes and most fruits are also good staple items.

Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are used in many recipes. Many times yogurt can replace high fat items to make meals healthier. Oils are necessary in a diet so stock olive oil, light mayo and soft margarine low in Trans fats. Cooking with light fat items can help with a healthier diet.

Seasonings are essential to add flavor to foods. Basic seasonings include black pepper, oregano, thyme, vanilla, garlic, mustard and vinegar. These items can change flavors and complement dishes you create and serve. Keeping low sodium broth available can always give you the ability to add flavor in a healthy way.

For simple baking keep sugar (brown and white) and flour (white and wheat) on-hand. Biscuit mix has many ingredients pre-added which can help the raising process. There are many other things that can be included on this list but to start out, this list is a good guide.

It can be easy and affordable to have staple items in your kitchen. Watch the sale papers for items you need, make a list and purchase only what is on your list. Not all of these items need to be purchased at once. Be creative in the kitchen and enjoy the healthy foods you can make.

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