Essentially, I'm going to show you my shopping list. If any of these products run out, I get them replaced immediately. I think they're critical to making better tasting and healthier food.
Before that though, let me show you what I used to pick up from the supermarket. Here's what I ate in about 2005 while at university:
- apple juice
- multigrain bread
- strawberry jam
- Nutri Grain cereal
- skim milk
- pasta sauce in a jar
- wholemeal pita bread
- tomato paste
- mozzarella cheese
I used to live off cereal, toast, spaghetti bolognese and homemade pizzas. Every single meal I ate had added sugar. Every one. And there isn't a real vegetable in the mix. Add that to binge drinking like a demon and it's no wonder my face was pimple city.
Thankfully, I've cleaned my act up. 10+ years later, here's what my shopping list focuses on. Hopefully you pick up a few ideas and essentials to build on your healthy haven.
The 25 Foods Your Kitchen Needs At All Times
1. Olive Oil / 2. Sea Salt / 3. Pepper
If there's one timeless way to make anything savoury taste better it's this trifecta. Before you roast, sauté, grill or pan-fry anything, toss these three ingredients through. They're also essential ingredients for a salad dressing.
The flavour enhancer. Whether I'm making Italian, Vietnamese or Indian, everything tastes better with garlic.
Not only that, but garlic is a nutritional powerhouse. It's been used for centuries to boost the immune system, offering anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. It even kills parasites.
5. Brown Onions
Garlic's big cousin, the onion. Another delicious flavour enhancer with underated nutritional properties. They're anti-cancer and anti-diabetic.
One of the best antioxidant sources on the planet. And it's the best flavour enhancer for anything sweet. I've started adding it into every smoothie I make. Every homemade protein bar, bliss ball, overnight oat or chia pudding recipe.
7. Baby Spinach
The beginner's green. And my favourite. Less bitter than your kales which means your can smuggle them in your smoothies and you'll never taste them. I like to add them to omelettes, sauté them in stir fries or make them the base of my salads. I go through at least 1kg (two pounds) per week.
My second favourite green. Sautée with 1, 2, 3, and 4 on this list and you have a delicious side dish to compliment any dinner. Few foods are as healthy as broccoli too.
The water dense skin hydrator that makes any salad taste better. If you strive to eat a salad a day, then you need to load up on cucumbers. I love the Lebanese variety. They can also be turned into magnificent pickles.
Any discussions about fruit and fructose is 100% wrong. You need to eat more fruit, and it doesn't get easier or tastier than bananas.
I rarely eat them fresh (they work well with peanut butter at 3pm), but their frozen brothers are in my daily smoothie. Creamy and sweet, they're also full of fibre, potassium and vitamin C.
11. Frozen Blueberries
Another smoothie staple. They create texture whilst also preventing degenerative brain diseases. Very few fruits, if not foods, are this good for you.
We can talk about the skin nourishing good fats and vitamin C, but I eat these creamy delights because they make vegetables taste better. If your eating less naughty food and ordering less takeaway, you can treat yourself to as many avocados as you like. Avocados are also responsible for homemade guacamole.
13. Rolled Oats
Few ingredients give you this much bang for your buck. Rolled, or steel cut, oats are so cheap and versatile. They're also full of protein and fibre. They put the oats in overnight oats and they work brilliantly in smoothies, bliss balls, granola recipes and even homemade Cliff bars. I even blend them into a homemade protein powder.
14. Pumpkin Seeds
Your cupboard needs nuts and seeds. Protein, healthy fats and skin hydrating vitamin E. You probably prefer almonds, cashews or peanuts. All great choices. But I love pumpkin seeds. Great for smoothies and homemade granola, they're the strongest source of magnesium on the planet.
If you're having trouble sleeping you're first step should be to have a handful of these each day. Actually, your first step should be to put your phone in the room next door. Your second step is pumpkin seeds.
Your brain needs omega 3s. Your digestive system needs fibre. Your cells needs lots of minerals. And you want more protein so you can look better naked. Enter the flaxseed. One of the most powerful foods on the planet.
Try to get in a tablespoon each day. I go the usual smoothie or protein ball route but you can even use flaxseeds to healthy-batter your fish.
You no longer have to drink coffee with guilt. It's actually good for you. After hours of research and many more writing this article I drink a few cups each day. Antioxidants and delicious energy.
My favourite purchase in recent memory has been this cold brew coffee maker. I add coarsely ground coffee and water to it each night before bed. The best cold brew you'll have.
And I have the Chemix for when I want a hot cup. It makes a similarly smooth home brew.
17. Nut Milk
There's a lot of dodgy products on the supermarket shelves trying to get in on the nut milk cash grab. Almond milks with carrageenan, dodgy rice malt and stabilisers to help them look like milk. Because of this, I find myself buying rice milk and oat milk the most. They're cleaner than the other products available to me.
18. Organic Eggs
If you want protein, but you're cutting down on the meat, then eggs are ideal. They bring texture and satisfaction to any plant based meal. And eggs are full of B12 which will help you avoid feeling weak and tired. B12 is also essential fuel for your brain. I like my eggs scrambled with chilli or I poached on top of a salad.
Try to get yours eggs directly from a local farm as anything else, even some labelled as free range, are coming from a factory size establishment. If they're organic and small batch you'll not only contribute to animal welfare but you'll be eating tastier and healthier eggs too.
The buzzword friendly grain that everyone loves. I love to make up a batch at the start of the week and then add it to sautéed vegetables whenever I'm hungry. Or to a salad. It bulks out anything and fills you up cleanly.
Another protein and fibre dense food that bulks out vegetables. You'd be shocked at just how nutritious chickpeas are, they're vitamin and mineral count makes them a superfood. Their brilliant for salads or you can whip them into a 3-minute hummus.
21. Coconut Oil
This brain stimulating fat can be added to smoothies, coffee or used to make raw nutella chocolate. You can also use it to cook with but I normally go with olive oil there.
22. Cacao Powder
We all want chocolate but you can't compromise your health by buying the supermarket stuff. Instead, load up on cacao powder and mix it with a natural sweetener. You can make raw desserts, chocolate chia puddings or you're own blocks. The recipes are easier than you think. The big bonus is that cacao is a serious superfood, it will protect you against disease, relief feel good endorphins and help you relax.
23. Raw Honey
My favourite sweetener. It nudges out maple syrup and dates because of it's immune boosting properties. You need honey on hand for when you feel that sore throat or cold coming on. I eat a heavy teaspoon most days, either in smoothies or treats.
24. Turmeric Powder
The internet's favourite anti-inflammatory. You can source the stuff fresh but it's hard to find. I recommend having powdered turmeric on hand at all times. You can turn it into creamy lattes or add it into most dinners, especially curries.
25. Apple Cider Vinegar
Another immune boosting ingredient that people have been using for years. I'll have a daily shot of it when I feel a cold coming on. But a more agreeable use is to add it to salad dressings with the first three ingredients on this list. Also, apple cider vinegar is brilliant for pickling vegetables.
You may prefer red wine vinegar instead of apple cider or almonds instead of pumpkin seeds, but hopefully these 25 foods resonate. I know I feel anxious when any of these are missing from my kitchen. Having versatile plants in your kitchen, as opposed to processed foods, will mean you make better dietary decisions each day. And you'll feel much better for it.
image credit: Epicurious / /