After moving into a new place—whether it's your first home, a college dorm, or a new apartment—the last thing you want to do is cook a full meal.
Even if it’s not your first time living on your own, it always feels like a hassle to get your kitchen set up.
When the time comes for your first meal after the move, takeout can seem like an easy solution. But let’s face it—Ordering delivery can add up (and set some weird eating habits) when you’re pushing a week of ordering in instead of buying groceries.
Instead, stock up on just a few pantry staples that will allow you to make a ton of simple, healthy meals in a snap. Plus, almost all of these basic ingredients have plenty of vitamins and nutrients.
Here’s a guide to the basics you should always have in your kitchen to whip up effortless, tasty meals that still fulfill your dietary needs.
Rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamin B12, and riboflavin, eggs are a delicious way to get many of the nutrients your body needs. Vitamin B12 may help lower the risk for heart disease, and riboflavin is excellent for healthy skin and hair, in addition to your brain.
Try a two-egg omelet with baby spinach and tomatoes, or hard boil an egg and chop it into a single serving of tuna.
Bananas are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Though vitamin C gets the most praise for it's immune-boosting powers, it also may reduce the risk of certain cancers. In addition, potassium strengthens your bones and lowers blood pressure.
Cut bananas into small slices and use as topping on a slice of whole-grain bread or a rice cake with almond butter. Or even try banana “nice” cream: Blend two frozen bananas with a dash of cinnamon and almond milk for a dairy-free frozen treat.
3. Almond milk
This dairy milk alternative contains plenty of vitamin D and vitamin E. Vitamin D helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium for healthy bones, while vitamin E acts as an antioxidant. As an added bonus, almond milk also has a longer shelf-life than dairy milk.
Blend one cup into a smoothie with ice, mixed berries, a banana, and kale for a low calorie, vitamin-rich smoothie.
4. Almond butter or peanut butter
Blend two tablespoons of your favorite nut butter with one banana, a few ice cubes, and one cup almond milk for a protein-rich smoothie.
5. Raw baby spinach
No wonder Popeye ate so much of this stuff. Spinach is super healthy—it's full of vitamins A, C, E, K, folic acid, iron, and magnesium. Vitamin A keeps tissues, skin, and bones healthy, and is also essential for vision. Iron maintains the hemoglobin levels in your bloodstream. Vitamin K activates proteins and calcium essential for blood clotting.
Sautée some spinach leaves in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper, chop the spinach up and cook into scrambled egg omelet, or use the leaves on their own as the base for a light salad.
6. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Balsamic vinegar and olive oil taste great on almost anything, and since olive oil is chock full of healthy fats, you can feel good about using this condiment.
Mix together olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a quick salad dressing, drizzle tomatoes in oil and vinegar, or add to tuna fish for a more flavorful tuna salad.
Mix tuna with carrots, a chopped hard-boiled egg, and a bit of Greek yogurt or mayonnaise for a quick tuna salad.
This powerhouse grain is high in protein and fiber—not to mention, it's gluten-free!
With quinoa in your cupboard, you can mix up all kinds of grain salads and warm quinoa casseroles. For one thing, quinoa is the easiest grain to serve on the side of chicken, fish, or another protein. You can also add olive oil, lemon, salt, and sautéed chopped spinach for a flavorful quinoa salad.
Though citrus is known as the vitamin C fruit, tomatoes are also packed with this vitamin.
Cook tomatoes in an omelet, or add slices to almost any sandwich. A tomato salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil will even make a nice side.
Chicken is a lean protein high in niacin. Niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, helps your body convert food to energy and keeps blood cells healthy.
Coat with salt and pepper, then cook on the stovetop for simple grilled chicken to serve on a salad, sandwich, or as a dinner.
11. Nuts (almonds, pistachios, or walnuts)
Go nuts for nuts! They're high in healthy fats and protein, making them the perfect snack when you’re on the go or need a quick burst of energy.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont