The ability to prepare healthy meals and snacks that are quick, tasty and don’t require a trip to the grocery store depends a lot on what you have on hand. Keeping a well-stocked pantry will not only make meal planning and preparation quicker and easier, but it can help everyone else in the home eat healthier too. When a pantry is well stocked with the right foods that everyone will enjoy, quick meals become less stressful and the temptation to pick up a less healthy fast food option is reduced.
Having a “diabetes-friendly” pantry doesn’t mean stocking the shelves with “sugar-free” or “dietetic” foods, it means having everyday foods on hand that are the building blocks to fabulous meals. Whether you are preparing a family meal, grabbing a quick snack or a brown bag lunch, it helps to have the right foods available. It isn’t necessary to replace everything all at once; you can build a healthier pantry gradually over time.
Avoid having foods in the pantry that are “off limits” for the person with diabetes. This can result in feelings of deprivation and tension. Rather, choose foods that everyone can enjoy because they are tasty – not just because they are “good for diabetes”. There is no point in having a cupboard full of amazingly healthy foods that no one will eat! Look for new recipes that incorporate the following ingredients or be spontaneous and create your own.
Check out these ideas for basic items to stock a diabetes friendly pantry, refrigerator or freezer:
Rolled oats or other hot cereal (not “instant” )
High fibre cold cereal (look for more than 4g fibre per serving)
White or whole wheat (best if it’s cooked “al-dente”)
Brown rice or converted white rice
Couscous, quinoa and barley can be a tasty alternative to rice or pasta
Walnuts and almonds (unsalted)
Make a great stand-alone snack, packed with fibre and ALA (an omega-3 precursor)
High in fibre and protein, use them in soups, salads and in many other tasty recipes. To remove some of the salt, rinse and drain canned beans before using them.
Low sodium if you can find them
Use for pasta sauce, stews, soup
A low glycemic index healthier alternative to white potatoes.
Packed in its own juice, makes a great snack or a quick dessert
Canola or olive oil
Heart healthy alternatives to other oils
Canned salmon or tuna
A source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids
Make a tuna or salmon sandwich or toss some into a green salad
Dried herbs and spices
Choose low fat milk, yogurt with no added sugar, cheese with17% M.F. or less and low fat cottage cheese
Soft non-hydrogenated margarine
Fruits and vegetables
Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables
Just as healthy as using fresh vegetables and no cleaning or chopping required.
Chicken breast, ground turkey, pork tenderloin
Salmon and trout – packed with omega-3 fatty acids
*Reproduced with permission from Diabetes Care Community, where you will find more information and tips for families living with diabetes.