Image by: Anelka
By Robert Spencer
When we move out and head off to college, we get to live off of ramen and mac & cheese. It’s a rite of passage that every guy gets to go through: “how many dishes can I make out of what I have left in the fridge and/or pantry?” Unfortunately, some of us never really grow out of this way of life (which is actually quite unhealthy).
Are you ready to set up your very own, “grown up” kitchen? It’s time to give that box of ramen to your younger brother and start eating healthier. But where do you even start, right? Your local grocer’s probably packed with a number of appetizing (but unhealthy) foods.
Whether you’re ready to start eating healthier, ready to upgrade your food choices, or if you’re just wanting to impress your girlfriend (who’s insistent about checking out your apartment), take a gander at this list of essentials for every healthy man’s kitchen.
A dozen eggs. Everyone’s bit into only eating egg whites (which cuts down on calories), but the egg yolks are where all of the nutrients are. Eggs are versatile and can be dressed up and put in about any meal.
Chicken breasts. A great way to get the protein without the extra fat from other types of meat. Chicken breasts are great because you can put them in just about anything: shredded, baked, fried, etc.
A pound of lean ground beef. Everyone gives beef a bad rep. It’s all about portion sizes and make sure that the ground beef that you get is lean.
A couple packages of tofu. Tofu’s not as bad as your friends make it out to be. It’s a great addition to stir-fries. You can also fry it up by itself and dip it in a bit of low sodium soy sauce.
Nuts. Peanuts, walnuts, pecans, etc. They’re all good for your heart as long as they aren’t excessively salted. They can be high in calories so watch your serving sizes but they do make a great addition to salads, pastas, and make a great snack.
Quinoa. It’s a super seed that also serves as a complete protein. So if you do a “meat-free day”, you can have a couple servings of quinoa to supplement your diet with protein. It’s also high in iron and fiber. There are microwavable versions that only take about fifteen minutes. You can also prepare it on the stove like pasta.
Hummus. You can use hummus with just about anything: whole wheat crackers, baked chips, sandwiches, wraps, veggie dips, etc.
These items are best frozen because they store better and it’s nice to have them on hand for an addition to any meal (especially shakes for breakfast).
Berries. Especially strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals and are a great way to sweeten an otherwise bland breakfast.
1 bag of broccoli florets Broccoli is high in fiber which is healthy and helps to keep you regular.
Peas. These come in handy for just about anything. My girl is a klutz so we always keep a bag in the freezer to use as an ice pack.
#3) Fresh Veggies & Fruits
Kale. Kale has just about every vitamin and nutrient that you could need. It’s a superfood (right up there with quinoa). You can put it in soups (like Zuppa Tuscana) or use it as a base for a salad instead of lettuce. If you bake it, you can even make kale chips.
Tomatoes. I’d only keep a couple because they can go bad pretty fast.
Any fruits that are in-season. Fruits that are in-season are cheaper. If you’re craving something sweet, it’s always healthier to grab an apple instead of a chocolate bar. Its best to stay with naturally sweetened things instead of going for all of that processed sugar.
Any other vegetables. Yes, it may seem like a cop out (the blanket term “vegetable” covers so many things) but if you’re looking to lose a bit of weight or stay healthy, packing your meals with as many vegetables as possible is the best way to do those things. Try to have at least three different colors of vegetables on your plate at dinner (and lunch if possible).
If you find that your veggies are going bad before you can use them up, by frozen vegetables instead of buying the canned stuff (which is full of preservatives and added salt).
Coffee. Coffee is great in moderation. Studies have proven its health benefits as long as you stay to about two cups a day.
Green Tea. Green tea is packed with antioxidants that can help boost your immune system. It’s also a great addition to punches (if you choose to chill it first) and is a great pick-me-up.
#5) Spices & Other Flavor Enhancers.
Olive oil. Olive oil is essential for any kitchen. Go with organic if you can and also extra virgin.
Garlic and onions. Personally, I prefer fresh garlic and onions but if you’re not big into cooking and you need these things to just spice up pre-made dishes, go with the powder or dehydrated. However, you’ll be missing the nutrients that are available in the fresh stuff. They’re also considered to be healing foods (packed with both vitamin C and other antioxidants).
Vinegar. Not only is vinegar good for you, it’s also a key ingredient for homemade cleansers (just in case you forgot to pick some up at the store).
Now it’s your turn. Other than the regular stuff (milk, butter, bread, etc.), what must-haves do you have for your kitchen?