Staples to always have on hand for healthy family meals

  • April 12, 2022

Knowing what to cook every single night can be tough enough without worrying about whether the meals you’re preparing are nutritionally sound. But sometimes all it takes is a simple core ingredient or two to turn your weeknight dinners into masterful and delicious culinary creations. We spoke to our good friend and co-founder of Nurture The Seed, Georgia Gregory, about the kitchen staples that will help you whip up a nutritious and delicious evening meal in no time.

  • Q: Finding new and interesting meals to cook each week is one thing but making sure they’re healthy is a whole other ball game – what are some of your go-to staples that you always have stocked in the kitchen cupboard and why?

    “I find my day revolves around the question of what ‘I’m going to eat’? This is why having a variety of staples on hand can be really helpful when planning/not planning meals, whilst also making them nutritious. There are so many staples I have in my pantry, fridge and freezer – here are some of my favourite ideas:

    – Lots of nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts) and seeds (chia, hemp, pepitas) – I’m a chronic snacker, especially since being pregnant and breastfeeding. Nuts and seeds are a protein hit with natural fats and fibre, making them a healthy filler. They are also rich in iron, zinc and calcium. You don’t have to eat many and they are so easy to grab. Chia pudding (chia seeds and milk) doesn’t take much to prepare and you can literally take/make them anywhere.

    – Spices (cumin, turmeric, paprika, garam masala, ground ginger and coriander to name a few) are a great way to add flavour to your meals. They can turn ordinary chickpeas into a flavourful spiced delight! A lot of people forget about spices but really, they are the base of most dishes.

    – Canned fish, especially those rich in omega-3 fats such as sardines, mackerel and salmon. Omega-3 fats play a vital role in brain function and have anti-inflammatory properties. Canned fish can easily be added to a sandwich or wrap, stirred through pasta or made into fish cakes.

    – Natural/Greek yogurt. I love dairy, with yogurt being my favourite due to it being rich in probiotics. Yoghurt goes with so many dishes; from sweeter granolas to savoury soups and curries. My 1-year-old will eat anything if yogurt accompanies it too. Sometimes I just add tahini and make a sauce with it.

    My prenatal nutrition book, Nurture the Seed, has a whole section on kitchen staples and how to use them in your everyday cooking.”

  • Q: What are some staple ingredients readers might be surprised to learn can be turned into an amazingly delicious and nutritious dinner?

    “I like to balance my meals with a wholegrain option, a protein option, lots of vegetables and some natural fats. Therefore, having different varieties of these can be useful:

    – Wholegrains like brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, pasta, oats and wholegrain crackers make for a great base.

    – Add something like eggs, tinned fish (sardines are my go-to), legumes/beans and/or yogurt for an abundance of nutrients and protein.

    – Next comes the veg, either raw or cooked. Tinned or frozen varieties are great when your stocks are low, so make sure you always have peas in your freezer and a tin of tomatoes in your pantry.

    – Then complete it with your fats – extra virgin olive oil, avocado and/or a sprinkle of toasted seeds.

    Using this framework can give you a plethora of meal options, e.g., brown rice with eggs and veg, pasta with tomatoes and sardines, oats with yogurt and fruit (I know not usually thought of as dinner, but it definitely works on those long days), quinoa with a Mexican tomato/bean mix.”

  • Q: What’s one staple you can’t live without and why?

    “Bone broth (which I make myself and store in my freezer). There are so many nutrients in bone broth, in particular collagen which is a structural protein that plays a vital role in the health of your skin, bones, hair and connective tissue. You can use bone broth as a base for your soup or risotto, cook your grains in it, turn it into gravy, use it to add moisture and flavour (it’s excellent in mashed potato) or drink it straight up. I even add an ice cube of it to my morning porridge!”

  • Q: What are your go-to staple items for the picky eaters at home

    “Can I say bone broth again? You can hide it in any dish and they won’t know it’s there! Smoothies, porridge, rice, pasta sauces, curries, dahl, mashed potato…you name it! My other go-to is eggs. If you don’t enjoy them straight up, turn them into sweet or savoury pancakes or fritters. I often mash up any leftovers I have in the fridge (quinoa, roasted veggies, herbs, cheese), add an egg or two then fry or bake them as bite size delights.”

  • Q: What’s the biggest misconception about cooking healthy meals?

    “That health meals don’t use fats. Extra virgin oils, butter, ghee – they are all staples for me and make meals so much tastier. Many people still think that fats are unhealthy but used in moderation they are important for energy and in helping our bodies absorb fat soluble vitamins.”

  • Q: If there was one piece of advice you could tell someone wanting to cook healthier meals – what would it be?

    “Start slowly. Just add one new ingredient at a time. Understand the nutritional profile, flavour and how to cook with it. Then, if it works for you and your family, keep using it and purchase a new ingredient when you feel the time is right. Don’t feel like you have to change everything all at once.”

  • Follow Georgia on Instagram (@nurturetheseed) or head to to learn more about healthy meals that can be easily put together from a number of kitchen staples.

Sign up for nudie news

Sign up today for great news and information from nudie

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.