Real Food Convenience Foods to Save Time in the Kitchen
When it comes to eating a real-food based template, sometimes convenience trumps making food from scratch. Here are my top picks for convenience foods that are widely available and will save you time in the kitchen too!
1. Riced Cauliflower
Riced cauliflower has now become quite popular in stores of all types (I've even found it in Walmart!) and for good reason. Riced cauliflower is a great replacement for rice and has a very neutral taste that lends itself well to a variety of flavors and add-ins. For instance, I recently sauteed up mushrooms and kale along with the riced cauliflower and some sea salt to make simple little side dish that paired well all week with whatever protein and fat I wanted to put with it. You can find riced cauliflower in the fresh foods aisle or also frozen too! Just make sure to check your labels - no added ingredients other than cauliflower! Don't let the food manufacturers add the spices for you - you never know what else will sneak in there alonngside (MSG, sugar, etc).
2. Canned Seafood
I regularly have canned salmon and tuna in the cupboard as a quick and easy protein source, especially if I'm traveling. I always look for BPA free cans, as well as a simple ingredient list: fish, water, and (maybe) salt. If there is vegetable broth, olive oil, soybean oil, soy, or any other additives, the can goes right back on the shelf. The reason I include olive oil on the "no" list is due to the fact that the oil is probably not from the greatest source and would be better left uneaten. However, some companies that are more real food based will use the high quality olive oil, which in this case would be a great choice. My top picks for canned tuna are found at Trader Joe's - they have the best prices I've found by far and are soy-free. Aldi also has great canned salmon that has the skin and bones in it as well, which means double or triple the nutrition!
3. Wholly Guacamole
When you are in need of a simple, tasty, and quick fat source for any meal, snack, party, or while traveling, Wholly Guacamole is a great option to pick up and is found at most grocery stores (my hometown grocery store in a town of 700 even has it!). The ingredient list is clean and contains no added sugar (a big win) or vegetable oils. Plus, it also comes in handy 100-calorie, individual packs (I'm not a fan of the 100 calorie pack idea, but for guacamole, I'll make an exception!).
4. Raw Sauerkraut
When it comes to eating probiotic rich foods, I find that it is much easier to purchase them rather than make them yourself. Yes, making them yourself will save you a lot of money (a head of cabbage won't run you more than $2), but the time and convenience plays a huge factor in fermented foods because of the time it takes to make them yourself. I love raw sauerkraut, found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store (not the shelf stable products). I usually take a spoonful each morning as a way to up my probiotic intake. My favorite brands are Bubbies and Farmhouse Culture.
5. Canned Olives
This one is a no-brainer and should be in everyone's kitchen cupboard right now. Canned olives are portable and super simple fat to have with any meal or snack. Plus, pair them with the Wholly Guacamole and some baby carrots and you have the perfect appetizer for any party and didn't have to do any work! Kids love them too - which makes them even better.
6. Pre-Cut Veggies
Meal prepping is made much easier when you have your veggies all ready pre-cut. You will pay a bit more for these vegetables, but sometimes, it's worth it to have them ready to go at a moments notice. Onions, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, Brussel sprouts, and jicama are just a few of the veggies I've noticed in stores that are pre-cut and ready for cooking!
Of course, there are tons of other convenience foods that make eating a real food diet easier, but these are the ones that I've personally found to be helpful to those looking to increase their real food intake without sacrificing too much time out of their day. What foods are in your cupboard that make life easier and aren't Cream of Mushroom Soup?