Eating healthy means keeping a healthy pantry and freezer. Incorporating more protein and less carbs into my diet definitely filled me with trepidation! We aren’t big meat eaters in this house. Besides bacon and an occasional pork roast (that I turn into various other things), we don’t eat pork. Pork tenderloin, blech. Pork chops, not happening. We just don’t care for pork. Beef? Chicken? Seafood? All a mixed bag.
Over the years of developing healthier eating habits, I have found the proteins that we ALWAYS have in house. Always. Here are our 5 proteins and why they are so important to our healthy diet.
5 dozen a week, at least. They are a 7 day a week morning staple for all five of us. Whether scrambled, fried, or in a hobo (egg in a hole), my kids eat eggs daily, right alongside us. Depending on leftovers, I can throw together a quick omelet, or prep a frittata or quiche on the weekend. I can throw an egg casserole in the crockpot the night before for breakfast that will last over several mornings.
Hardboiled eggs make a GREAT portable lunch or snack. Slice up hardboiled eggs over a salad for an extra kick of protein.
The versatility of eggs make them our number one protein.
So, there might be less than a dozen foods that are a universal hit in our house. Shrimp is one of the elusive few things that make the cut. So, albeit a bit pricey, we do make budgetary accommodations to always have a bag of Costco frozen shrimp on hand.
Shrimp are incredibly versatile and EASY to cook, more reasons to justify the extra cost of having them on hand at all times.
They take just minutes to sauté or roast or boil. Most recipes you find will be quick when it comes to shrimp. In addition, I often cook a ton, chop them up and make a healthy shrimp salad to eat for lunch or dinner.
Ground Turkey/Ground Chicken
I put ground turkey and ground chicken together because I use them interchangeably. I always, always have at least two to three packages in the freezer.
They’re easy and quick to defrost last minute which is an added bonus.
I almost always have a batch of taco meat on hand, made from ground turkey or chicken. I put it on salads (doesn’t even have to be taco salad. I’ll douse it in Frank’s Red Hot over taco seasoning if I want a buffalo salad) regularly. My kids love it in burritos or tostadas or tacos. For quick meals, ground turkey/chicken is a must have.
Nobody in our house is a big fan of chicken breast. I do not cook chicken breast for dinner and serve it up. At times I’ll make cutlets with a sauce (rarely), and more often I’ll make baked chicken strips which are a universal hit.
The most common use though is to take a few chicken breasts and poach them for 20 minutes or toss them into the crockpot for a couple hours. After shredding them, I’ll divide the mixture into a few containers and add BBQ sauce to one, Frank’s Red Hot to another, and keep one plain. From there the versatility only climbs! Sandwiches, quesadillas, salads, pizza toppings are some of the regular uses we have for shredded chicken.
We buy these from our local butcher or Whole Foods and occasionally Sprouts. These are a bit pricey and don’t make the most filling dinner in the world, but the entire family likes them. There are so many flavors to choose from, so it keeps this meal from feeling repetitive. Currently we have Chicken Apple and Basil Chicken sausages on hand.
These are GREAT for when we need to eat and go, but I do try to limit them to twice a month. Even with my limit, we do keep a couple packs in the freezer for a grab, defrost, cook, eat and go.
These five proteins are always in our house because they are universally liked and easy and versatile.
It took trial and error to figure out what our staple proteins were, and that’s okay. I kept trying to push roasts and tenderloin and fish but was always met by some pushback.
Part of eating healthy is simplifying the process and finding what works for your family. Finding something that EVERYONE will eat is paramount as well as finding things that are versatile to your style of cooking will make everything run so much smoother.
Maybe something from my list will trigger an idea for you to try or maybe it will just help you brainstorm different ideas for meals in your home.
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