Seven Items You Need in Your Kitchen

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Hi! 👋 👋 👋 My first post after an accidental hiatus (by the way, I passed my licensing exam and graduated NYU!) brings you easy recipes created with seven staple ingredients you should always keep in your kitchen. My inspiration for this post came from the fact that as a recent graduate who hasn’t yet started her full-time job, I’m still on a major budget (I guess I can only pull the student budget card for so long now, huh?). So Tuesday morning when I woke up and had no real groceries in the house, I had to get creative. What bare minimum food items could provide breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks?

Putting together a grocery list can be similar to putting together a meal. You need three basic things: protein, fat, and carbohydrate (the three macronutrients). It’s good to get each of these at every main meal to give you a range of nutrients, and to keep you full so you don’t snack the day away. My specific goal here was to make sure that I chose types that go a long way in the kitchen. This was the result:

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Whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce, peanut butter, low-fat/part-skim string cheese, eggs *Not pictured: bag of mixed greens

And now for the fun part! Super easy meal and snack ideas for #alldayerrday.

Meals:

1) Egg and cheese sandwich: But not the kind you get at McDonald’s. “Fry” an egg on a non-stick pan (or use cooking spray) while your bread toasts. Lay greens on bread, top with pulled-apart string cheese (pulling apart the string cheese makes you feel like a kid again), and put the freshly cooked egg on top,which lets the cheese melt. Top with a second piece of bread to make this a complete meal.

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2) Pizza toast: Spread tomato sauce on a slice of bread and top with arugula and string cheese. Toast in table top oven or bake. Top with more arugula to get your greens in. Serve up two slices for a quick and easy meal.

3) Pasta with a sunny side up egg: Disclaimer – this one contains an extra ingredient – olive oil, which may be in your kitchen already, but if it’s not, it will definitely get use if you buy it. I made this one morning when, similar to this week, I had little in the house and was pressed for time. I had eggs, but no toast. What could replace whole wheat toast? Another nutritious grain: whole wheat pasta! Serve 2/3 cup pasta with 1 teaspoon olive oil and top with an over-easy egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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4) Scrambled eggs with cheese on toast: Scramble two eggs*, and mix in a chopped piece of string cheese when the eggs are almost done cooking. Serve along side a slice of whole wheat toast.

*Yes, two eggs is okay. Research shows that dietary cholesterol (the kind found in eggs), doesn’t negatively affect serum cholesterol (the kind in your blood) like we thought it used to. Just don’t start eating tons of whole eggs per day, because they contain saturated fat, which should still be limited.

5) Whole wheat pasta: One of my absolute favorite dishes these days. Cook pasta according to package directions. I tend to cook at least 1 cup (dry) at a time and refrigerate leftovers for future meals. My trick for making this as easy as possible is to transfer the cooked pasta into a non-stick pan (serve about 2/3 cup pasta). Then I top with sauce and shredded string cheese and cover with a lid. This lets the cheese melt really nicely on top, without getting mixed in. When it’s all warm and bubbly, I slowly slide the pasta onto a plate, which keeps the cheese and sauce on top … and makes for quite a beautiful presentation 😉

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6) Peanut butter sandwich: I mean this is really as simple as it gets, but for an on-the-go breakfast, the combination of protein-rich whole grain bread and peanut butter provides the perfect mix of protein, fat, and carb to fuel your morning. Keep the PB to about 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp for calorie control, and the full sandwich gives you up to 340 calories, 15 gm protein, and 10 gm fiber! (Depending on the brand of bread)

7) Sweet and savory toast (i.e., egg on toast, PB on toast): When you feel like mixing up your proteins or can’t decide between sweet and savory, this is a great option. No explanation needed for this simple meal.

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Snacks/Other:

I often get the question, “What makes a good snack?” The answer: carb + protein. You should have both at each snack to sustain you ’til your next meal. Keep them at 150 (ish) calories for portion control. What I love about these grocery items is that they can also be used as snacks or add-ons to other meals.

1) String cheese: I eat one of these every day. They’re so portable (and fun), and because they contain protein, fat, and carb, I find that they’re perfect when I’m really hungry and need an emergency item to tide me over, so I don’t make bad decisions at a deli or newspaper stand. A string cheese stick, like a hard-boiled egg, is great with a piece of fruit or crackers.

2) Hard-boiled egg: At about 70 calories, this is the perfect protein to eat along side a small fruit or a few whole grain crackers as a snack. Hard-boiled eggs are also so easy to make ahead, so you can grab one to-go. Add one or two (or a full one plus the just the whites) to a salad for an easy way to add protein.

On the way to dinner one night, because I was really hungry...and dinner was in Brooklyn.

Took an egg on the way to dinner one night, because I was really hungry, and dinner was in Brooklyn.

3) Whole wheat pasta: Making pasta in batches saves SO much time during the week. I eat it as meals, throw about 1/2 cup into salads, and one night even had a small portion (1/3 cup cooked) with a piece of string cheese and sauce as a snack before dinner.

4) Peanut butter: Also a really good protein to have as a snack. Eat a spoonful alongside pretzels, crackers, or fruit in, or dip them in! Keep serving to 1/2 Tbsp as a snack.

5) Whole wheat croutons: This is so easy to do, and costs less than buying whole wheat croutons (#winning). Just slice a piece of bread into cubes by cutting across and down. I toss them in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper for flavor, but even without it, toasting browns the bread which gives it a sweeter and saltier flavor on its own. Bake or toast in a toaster oven until they are brown, a bit crunchy, and not burnt. Balance out your salads with 1/2-1 slice’s worth of croutons.

Feel free post questions, comments, or your own ideas with these six ingredients in the comments section below! But go do your grocery shopping first 🙂

One thought on “Seven Items You Need in Your Kitchen

  1. Pingback: How to Build a Balanced Meal (Pssst: It can also save you $!) | the hungry clementine

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