Nutrition Month 2016: Smart Stocks for the Kitchen


Have you been taking part  in this year’s  Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month, Take a 100 meal journey, make small changes, one meal at a time?  If so,  are you making any headway? If  you haven’t managed to make changes  or  haven’t been part of the action,  it’s not too late to jump on board and head towards becoming an enlightened eater.

One key strategy in healthy eating is to be prepared. If you have the fixings for a fast healthy meal on hand, the chances of enjoying homemade eats  are much greater.  With a well-stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer, even if you haven’t been food shopping,  you can throw together a meal in much less time than it takes for pizza to be delivered.

A delicious whole grain pasta dish with sautéed garlic, drained canned chick peas, artichoke hearts and tuna topped with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for example, takes as long to put together as it does for the noodles  to cook.  If you have some fresh spinach or arugula, you can toss that in as well.

For a taste of Asia, soba noodles and frozen vegetables and or fruit such as diced mangoes can be tossed in a peanut butter, soy, sesame oil, ginger and rice vinegar dressing.

Here are some basics to keep on hand.

Pantry Essentials

•    Canned and dried legumes – such as chick peas, kidney bean and lentils

•    Canned fish – tuna, salmon and crabmeat

•    Canned tomatoes with no-added salt

•    Canned fruit in water or fruit juice
Keep some on hand for a quick crisp or pie or as a topping for yogurt

•    Pasta
Go for whole  grain for a taste of the Mediterranean or  soba noodles for an Asian touch.

•    Lower Salt Broths
Use these as a quick foundation for meals and side dishes.

•    Vinegars
A variety of vinegars makes for an assortment of cuisines.


•    Assorted whole grains like quinoa or brown rice
Refrigerating them extends their shelf life.

•    Nuts, seeds and nut butters

•    Yogurt
Plain varieties for dips, dressings and desserts

•    Prepared chopped garlic and prepared chopped ginger
If shopping is a challenge, keep some of these in your fridge.

•    Assorted Condiments
Various mustards, chutneys and salsas can turn even the plainest offering such as a cheese sandwich on whole grain bread into a tasty offering.


•    Frozen vegetables
Try some of the newer stir-fry combinations for their fresh flavour and texture. For a quick salad, microwave your choice of veggie until  crisp  and toss with your favourite dressing. Refrigerate for later use.

•    Unsweetened frozen fruit
Diced mangoes, berry combinations or one berry at a time – they’re all wonderful, especially when they’re not in season at the supermarket. Options like berries can be added to sliced apples or pears for a yummy fruit crisp or mixed with cut up fresh fruit for a fruit salad.

•    Meat or poultry strips
Use for  soups, quick stir-fries and for salads.

•    Mini Meatballs
Bake mini-meat balls in the oven and then freeze, covered, in a single layer on a plastic wrap lined  baking sheet. Once frozen solid, pack into a labelled container and use as you like.

•    Breads and Alternatives
Keep sliced whole grain  breads,   rolls cut in halves and flour  tortillas on hand for quick sandwiches and melts.

•    Crumb Toppings
Mix together oats, nuts, brown sugar and seasonings like cinnamon for fruit crisps and crumbles. Sprinkle on sliced fruit for dessert for one or two people or a family-sized dish for everyone.

•    Cooked whole grains such as barley, wheat berries or brown rice
When cooking longer cooking varieties, prepare extra and freeze in labelled containers.

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Categories: Nutrition Month, Tips and Tricks

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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