Whether you are an advanced bodybuilder, or a student who is just figuring out opening times of your local college gym, the foods you eat affect your fitness journey more than you might realize.
The profound saying “Abs are made in the kitchen” is certainly true and has a much broader application than just rock-hard abs. Losing fat, gaining muscle, or just staying healthy all require consistency with your diet and making smart choices with your knife and fork. Filling up your pantry and fridge with foods that do not spoil easily, are healthy, and filled with nutrients, is a key habit most of us probably underestimate sometimes.
Let’s dive into some foods that are easy to prepare, budget-friendly, and help you with your fitness goals while lasting literally forever
Let’s start with some muscle building, protein packed goodies available in any grocery store for just a few bucks!
✓ Dry Beans
Not only are they cheap, they come in countless types that even the picky eaters can find their preference. Besides being loaded with protein and fiber, beans are very filling and allow you to get creative in the kitchen. Onions, bacon or vegetables all mix well with beans, giving your creativity loads of space!
This icon comes in handy almost every day. Great to combine with a variety of ingredients such as Whey Protein, peanut butter, frozen fruits or cinnamon, unleashing its dietary potential right from your tupperware. Preparation is fool-proof, quick, and easy and gives you some room to be creative. Some prefer it cooked with water, some prefer it soaked overnight with milk. Which group do you fall in?
✓ Canned Tuna
Canned tuna is my personal go-to during busy meal prep, being tight on time and trying to throw something healthy together. Another huge benefit is the longevity. Great lean source of protein with minimum fat and calories, allowing you to put together a high-protein meal even in a rush. Great for packing to-go, just make sure you bring a can opener!
✓ Whey Protein
Investing a few bucks into this key supplement widens your possibilities in the kitchen. Protein pancakes, protein cookies and bars or delicious summer cooling milkshakes can all be on your menu, helping you get the body you want! As research shows, whey protein is a great addition to anyone interested in a clean diet and fitness, as it can provide all essential amino acids and proteins you need to grow muscle or improve your strength training in general! Keeping a pouch of Whey Protein in your pantry will come in handy when you need that mid afternoon snack or just feel like settling for a meal with as little preparation as possible! Even if you are not big on supplementation, a couple grams of whey can make all the difference between staying consistent, and being sloppy with your diet.
Another kitchen essential for anyone who is living on a budget and looking for ways to keep grocery store trips to a minimum. Bigger grocery stores often carry multiple dozens of eggs conveniently boxed together at a great price! When properly stored in refrigerator, raw eggs in shell will last you anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks. Great protein addition to numerous meals, signature component of delicious breakfast and uncompromisingly amazing overall value for a buck. Keeping some eggs in your fridge to quickly put together a tasty scrambled breakfast has never been easier!
Next up, let’s cover a few foods which are very helpful when the sweet tooth wakes up. Snack between classes, quick replenishment after that important presentation or a ready-to-eat dainty during on-site construction break, they all come in handy sometimes.
✓ Nuts & Seeds
Another great and healthy way to snack for anybody who wishes to eat healthy and hit certain fitness goals. A handful of peanuts, cashews, pecans or any other type of nuts fits comfortably in a small sandwich bag and can be taken anywhere you go. I use a mix of nuts and seeds in combination with a fig bar to keep me going between classes when I have a craving. Loaded with protein and healthy fats, high caloric density is the only thing to watch out for! Moderation is essential!
✓ Dried Fruits
Very inexpensive and convenient snack option which you can carry practically anywhere. Whether you’re in class, at your working desk or running errands, having some dried fruits available as a snack can satisfy that craving and keep you from running to the nearest fast food joint to grab a bite. However watch out for the added sweeteners and portion size. Make sure to check out the nutrition facts section of the packaging to make sure you’re not getting carried away with your snack and ending up eating too many calories.
Kitchen Must Haves
Last but not least let’s cover some basic condiments, great to keep around the kitchen as they can be used in countless combinations with variety of foods!
✓ Cinnamon & 100% Cocoa Powder
Cinnamon and cocoa powder can become a game changer in your kitchen. Adding these into your morning oatmeal or sprinkling it over some fruits will make the foods more enjoyable and tasty. I personally try to incorporate cocoa into oats, protein cookies or even when I am having my vanilla protein shake and want to give it a little chocolaty kick. You are in charge of your kitchen creativity, mix it with your favorites and experiment!
✓ Hot Sauce
This is an absolute must for all spicy food lovers to keep within reach at all times! For us meat lovers, who consume a few pounds of meat per week, spicing things up can be the difference between lousy motivation and cheerful meal prep! Marinating some chicken or beef before you do your meal preparation is very convenient. It adds a great amount of flavor, changes things up, and you’re all set with tasty meals.
Take Home Message
Of course countless other options exist, which are not covered in this article, however these are some of the foods that have been helping me and many other people to stay on track with a diet. Now you have some more inspiration and examples of foods that are great to keep all year around in the kitchen and come in handy very often! Happy meal prepping, exercising, and snacking!
Thank you for reading and let me know what you personally keep around or use on a daily basis that helps you reach your fitness goals! Leave a comment about it in the section below!