5 Pantry (and Fridge) Essentials I’m Thankful For

I can’t believe we’re two days away from Thanksgiving.  How is this even possible?  With my most favorite holiday on the very near horizon, I find myself reflecting on what I’m most thankful for and thought it would be fun to turn the focus on the five pantry and refrigerator staples I will be giving thanks for this year.

I settled on my round-up of foods based on their nutritional value, ease of use, versatility, affordability and tastiness. Of course there are many others, but these are currently at the top of my list.

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Fresh Cut, Recipe-Ready Veggies

Remember when you used to have to peel, wash, slice and diced vegetables before use? Seems like a thing of the past, right? While I don’t exclusively buy pre-cut produce, I do have a few go-to options especially for hectic weeknights.  With no muss and no fuss, opting for fresh cut produce really shaves off valuable minutes when cooking and gives my family’s (and my) veggie intake a healthy lift.

Canned Beans

Check my pantry and you can easily find at least three varieties of beans stashed in there. I always keep them on hand to add to salads, rice or pasta for a boost of plant-based protein and fiber that requires no cooking. I also incorporate beans into meat dishes like my shredded salsa chicken, lean ground beef or chicken taco filling, quesadillas and more to amp up the nutrients and stretch the portions.  Such a simple trick! Just drain and rinse them to reduce the sodium by around 40% and remove the canning liquid.

If you are looking for the scoop on plant-based diets, check out my previous post here.

Hummus

Hummus, you say? I sure do! I am thankful for hummus for a number of reasons. It’s a fabulous vehicle for eating nutritious foods like whole-grain crackers, tuna (when used to replace mayo) and of course, veggies!  Further, I love hummus for some of the outside-the-box uses I have recently put to the test, such as stirring it into cooked whole-wheat pasta or cooked grains for instant flavor. I also like to combine it with little olive oil and a splash of vinegar or lemon juice for a super easy homemade vinaigrette dressing or marinade.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough/Crust

As much as I could easily order pizza every night for dinner (because I love it so), I know that my wallet, nor my waistline, would be happy about that. So to satisfy those pizza cravings, I go the DIY route and make my own about once a week. I start with a prepared whole-wheat pizza dough ball or ready-to-top crust and layer it with a bunch of veggies, flavorful cheese and seasonings for a family pleaser of a dinner. Using veggies that are nearly past their prime or leftover grilled chicken or taco filling can also keep these foods out of the trash, saving you cash.

Quick-Cooking Grains

Because I can use them to whip up grain bowls and salads to soups, stews, casseroles and beyond, the final food I’m oh so thankful for are quick-cooking grains like oats, quinoa, farro and rice. They are a canvas just waiting to be painted with any flavor combinations that you can dream up! With their generous shelf life, I also don’t have to worry about them going bad on me if they aren’t used right away.

So you tell me, what foods or otherwise are you most thankful for this season?

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Beth, a.k.a. Queen Nutrition Bee

Learn more about how My Happy Plates can help you plan your meals for the week here. We’d love to save you some time this week!

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