Building a healthier pantry isn’t as hard or as expensive as you might think. By incrementally including more whole foods into your shopping list and learning how to use and pair ingredients to make delicious meals and snacks you like, you’ll avoid the shock of wasted food and money. Better, you’ll accustom yourself to eating healthier week by week and minimize cravings for junk as you start sidelining and replacing less healthy food purchases.
Here’s how to continue building a whole foods based pantry week by week 5-7 foods at a time to minimize the stress and cost to your wallet while learning how to integrate new foods and ways of cooking into your routine. This way the shift to eating a whole foods-based diet happens smoothly and effortlessly.
Week 2 Shopping List
In this second week we’ll continue introducing versatile foods fundamental to building a stocked whole foods pantry (i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, tubers, nuts and seeds). This week’s list will provide ingredients for breakfasts, snacks, light lunches, dinners and even a dessert so you may be able to start cutting back on or cross out less healthy foods you would have bought for those meals. This week’s items will be relatively inexpensive too. Here’s the list of 5-7 items to throw in your cart when you next head to the grocery store.
Also, if you’re out of or running low on last week’s items, feel free to top them up again because they’ll go great with this week’s list.
Disclaimer: While not all suggestions for the pantry shopping list will be whole foods, they will account for roughly 90% of the overall recommendations and help support the whole foods way of eating.
Suggestions are for one person for the week.
Week 2 List:
- Onions – 2-3 lbs yellow or red (red if you don’t like crying)
- Garlic – 1 bulb
- Plain yogurt
- Nuts – pecans, walnuts, or almonds
- Black Beans (2 cans or 1 lb dried)
- Natural peanut butter or other nut butter
How to Maximize Your Purchases
With these 7-8 items, you can mix and match to cover quick breakfasts, snacks, lunch and even dinners or a dessert for most of the week – especially when combined with last week’s items to keep in stock. You have all the staples needed to start making classic Tex-Mex meals. Additionally, this week’s haul makes great ingredients in a range of dishes. Here’s how to use what you bought.
3 Breakfast Ideas:
- Yogurt. For breakfast, combine yogurt, a handful nuts and a handful of berries for a nutritious meal and a sweet burst of flavor. This will power you through the mornings. Feel free to add some of the sunflowers you bought last week too.
- Smoothies. Blend fruit and yogurt for a smoothie or shake. Add in peanut butter or sunflower seeds.
- Oatmeal. Don’t forget that you can add a handful of nuts – or even a dab of peanut butter – to your cold or hot oatmeal to make it heartier and more nutritious.
5 Snack Ideas:
- Peanut butter snacks. Spread on whole grain crackers or on veggies like celery.
- Salsa. A basic salsa starts with tomato, chopped onions and vinegar – all ingredients featured in week 1 and week 2 shopping lists. Eat with tortilla chips, whole grain crackers or as a topping for meals.
- Guacamole. This combines avocados and garlic as a base and can get as involved as you like from there.
- Bean dip. Puree the black beans to make a bean dip for tortillas or veggies.
- Tzatziki. This Greek cucumber, garlic and yogurt dish is fantastic as a dip or even as a snack in and of itself. Sometimes I even eat this for a refreshing morning breakfast.
4 Lunch and Dinner Ideas:
- Burrito bowls. Make this for lunch or dinner. Just layer rice and black beans and top with meat or veggies or just add salsa and guacamole.
- Tacos. Instead of a burrito bowl, use the ingredients to make tacos!
- Loaded nachos. Or toss all these ingredients onto a bed of nachos or use for nacho dip.
- Chili. Use black beans, tomatoes, garlic, and onions as a base for this hearty meal.
- Peanut butter sandwiches.
1 Dessert Idea
- No bake chocolate peanut butter cookies. Use your peanut butter and oats for a more decadent treat.
Onions. Raw in leafy salads or cold bean salads, sauteed with veggies or in soups and stews – the ways of using onions are endless. This makes it one of the staple ingredients in any cook’s pantry. Tip: You can chop and freeze onions. Red onions won’t make you cry and have a wonderful taste.
Garlic. Like onions, garlic is a kitchen staple. Whether minced, diced, slivered or crushed, garlic adds beautiful flavor and aroma to a spectrum of dishes. Tip: you can peel and freeze garlic cloves.
Plain yogurt. While not a whole food, plain yogurt is a great vehicle for them and comes packed with probiotics – a win win. Eat this for breakfast with nuts, seeds and fruit as a breakfast bowl or blended as a smoothie. Yogurt makes a good stand in for cream, especially in Asian recipes like curries.
Nuts. Eat raw as a snack or use as an ingredient in yogurt, oatmeal and other cereals. Cook with them in stir fries or add to vegetables. Sprinkle them in your salads or onto meat dishes.
Vinegar. This is a great and cheap way to add flavor to many dishes. Splash it onto leafy salads or bean salads. Mix it with oil to make a vinaigrette. In a pinch you can use it in place of rice wine vinegar when making Asian dipping sauces or dishes.
Rice. Use in stir fries or in pilaf rather than pasta. Toss into soups and stews. A number of varieties exist and all go well in Mexican and Asian dishes. You can get a lot of mileage out of rice. Tip: Buy long-grain, jasmine rice or sushi rice as these keep better and can even be frozen without turning chalky when reheated.
Black beans. This is a staple for Mexican dishes but also wonderful in soups and stews, chili, and cold bean salads.
Peanut butter. You can eat this or other nut butters as a dip, a spread, or in sandwiches. Add it to oatmeal or smoothies. Use it in desserts.
The trick to eating healthy is learning how to enjoy real food over your less healthy food habits. Start simply by experimenting with the foods or dishes suggested this week. Then put the items on this week’s shopping list into your regular shopping rotation, taking out less wholesome purchases or cutting down on them. Maybe you’ve been eating pasta for many of your lunches and dinners. Start rotating in bean or rice dishes. Freshen up your lunches too by dropping the heat and serve meals or fast food for homemade bean salads and burrito bowls. Cut down on the sugary snacks by replacing them with chips and salsa or chips and guacamole. Your body will thank you with better health and vitality.
Your Whole Foods Pantry So Far:
- Sunflower seeds
- Chick peas
- Black beans
- Peanut butter or other nut butter
- Plain yogurt
In the following weeks, the shopping lists will continue to build up your basic pantry and recipe repertoire. Soon you’ll feel like a whole foods pro.
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