When I first started meal-prepping, I won’t lie… it was overwhelming. Prepping food that was healthy AND tasted good was a top priority, but since I also work from home full-time and take care of 3 babies under 3, time is in short supply at all times in my world. However, once I committed and took the time to plan out my meals and my grocery shopping, it quickly became fairly easy to prepare food for me and my family ahead of time.
One of the key elements of food prep is understanding some staple food items that you should never run out of. I thought I’d list my top 10 staples, because these are all things that, should I run out, my food prep becomes almost impossible.
I use onions in almost every dish to natural sweeten and flavor my meats. I always try to have onions on hand!
Like onion, garlic really livens up the flavor of meat dishes (and veggie dishes too). I usually buy the garlic that’s already been chopped and that is sold in bulk (I get mine from Costco) to speed up my cooking.
3. Bell Peppers, Assorted
I eat a dish with bell peppers in them several times a week. They are an easy veggie to add to pretty much any recipe, and they’re even great as a snack!
4. Frozen Broccoli
Since my kids are obsessed with “trees,” this is typically their vegetable of choice. We have broccoli as our main vegetable nearly every night, and since I want to keep the healthy choices going, we always have this on hand. We get the Organic frozen broccoli from Costco because it tastes like candy compared to pretty much every other brand we’ve ever tried (it’s dang good).
I make a dense nutrition protein shake for breakfast every morning, and while it’s amazing by itself, I LOOOOOOVE the creamy texture that a ripe banana gives it, so we keep bananas on hand at all times. The kids all love them too, so they are also an easy, healthy snack that I can provide at any point in the day.
Tomatoes go in dishes of all varieties and help add flavor and pizazz to our meals. We also use them in our salads and on sandwiches and wraps for the kids, so we always have tomatoes in the fridge.
7. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a healthy, monosaturated fat, and we use it when we cook veggies and meats to boost flavor. It’s also awesome for reducing inflammation in the body, which is a big deal to me. We ALWAYS replace vegetable oil with olive oil in our baking and cooking, even in things like cakes and cookies! Since we use it so often I buy it in bulk at Costco.
8. Almond Milk/Coconut Milk
I have a major intolerance to dairy products (like… I can gain up to 10 pounds OVERNIGHT when I cheat and have a little bit of cheese or milk. I get way inflamed). For that reason, I switch dairy out for almond or coconut milk in my recipes. If I run out, it’s scary, so we keep our fridge stocked with at least one of these all the time!
9. Chicken Breast
We use a lot of chicken in our meals each week, and my favorite brand has been the bulk Kirkland brand at Costco. For all-natural chicken breast, it’s the best bang for your buck, and the flavor is outstanding! Never buy Walmart chicken again. Trust me on this one.
10. Lean Ground Beef
We like to mix it up with our meats, and usually our go-to is lean ground beef. HOWEVER, we ONLY buy the organic ground beef from Costco. It doesn’t even taste like beef… it tastes like heaven. It’s sweet, and the meat isn’t packed with dyes and water, which makes it healthier, more flavorful, and more meaty (as in, less water content and more of the actual meat). We keep a good stock of this in our fridge or freezer (after we’ve prepared it into a freezer meal) every week.
Frankly, if you at least have these ingredients in your fridge or freezer, you’re probably going to be able to prepare a good variety of healthy foods each week. There are lots of other small things that I get each week based on what I’m making, but these are what I build my meals around for the most part! In my eyes, they are staples that should be in every person’s fridge, especially someone who is just starting out on the food prep journey. 😊
Good luck on your food prep journey, and stay awesome!