Get ahead of the game by preparing your own foods. It is a lot easier than you think with the right tools, and the right food sources.

I recently saw on the Forks Over Knives website a piece by Jeff Novick called the Essential Grocery List. And while there are many great items on the list, I do have a few issues with a few of the items for various reasons. I understand that he is going for items that will help you be able to cook up a healthy meal in about 15 minutes, but I would say that with a little bit of planning you can substitute a few things, and still make the meals quickly. 

His list is below: 

  • Instant brown rice
  • Canned beans (unsalted)
  • Canned tomato products (unsalted)
  • Intact whole grains (quinoa, kasha/buckwheat, oats)
  • Whole wheat pasta (or whole grain corn pasta or brown rice pasta)
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen soups
  • Frozen fruit
  • Dried fruit (for baking and seasoning)
  • Almond butter
  • Raw almonds
  • Salt-free spice mixes 

One of the changes I would recommend would be to avoid the canned products. I have discussed the issues around canned goods in other blogs here, and here. Below are a few alternates to think about:

  • Dried beans can be cooked in the crock pot, and stored for about a week in the refrigerator, or longer if you slightly under cook them for freezing. Throwing the frozen cooked beans into a soup will finish the cooking process, and allow you to avoid the BPAs. My husband and I have been buying a lot of dried organic beans (and grains too) from Amazon, and they have become staples in our pantry. We’ve learned of a lot of companies that sell good product as a result like Bergin Nut, Lundberg Rice, and a new one is Olive Nation (for Cannellini beans, yum!).
  • As far as tomatoes go, not many companies are putting tomatoes in anything other than the cans, but there are a few companies that use glass, and even cardboard (I just don't know what the cardboard is lined with, however).  
  • With frozen soups please make sure you watch the sodium content as well as other ingredients. You can easily make your own broth, and freeze it to be used as needed.
  • With the almonds I would say it is important to have a variety of nuts as I am seeing more and more patients who are having sensitivities to almonds. I think a leading factor in these sensitivities is coming from over consumption of almonds in the forms of the raw nut, almond milk, almond butter, and even the almond flour for those who need gluten free. 
  • When it comes to the dried fruit you should look for sulfite free fruits while making sure no sugar has been added (it’s fruit, come on, does it really need more sugar?). With some planning you could buy fresh fruits, and dehydrate them yourself while storing them to be used later.

Just like everyone else, I want simple meals that are not only more fresh and homemade, but also easy. It’s not always easy to have this, however; especially if you are in a last minute rush. The answer is to plan ahead. When you are planning your next grocery list, or are already at the grocery store, make sure to remember the tools you should own like a food dehydrator and crockpot. Over time, slowly, these items will not only save you money and time, but will help you eat cleaner, healthier food.

Source: Forks Over Knives

Image Credit: Alex Proimos (Wikipedia) (CC 2.0)