One roadblock that I commonly hear when it comes to cooking and eating healthy is a lack of time to shop for and prepare meals.  And I totally get it – when you are in the middle of a busy week, it can be overwhelming to come home and try to figure out an entire meal – it’s much easier to go get take out or look to something frozen you can pop in the microwave.

One thing that I’ve learned as I get more and more into cooking is that preparing meals becomes much less of a burden when you have most of the ingredients already in your cabinet.  And I’m not talking a gourmet, stocked pantry fit for a chef…when you’re talking about fresh ingredients, SIMPLE is best!  It doesn’t take much…

By having the following five ingredients on hand, you can easily go to the grocery, pick up whatever fresh vegetables and meat or other protein that you’d like, and prepare a healthy, tasty meal without the stress of an over-complicated, involved recipe.

Olive Oil

Olive oil can be used for sautéing and also to dress on top of vegetables.  Olive oils contain polyphenols that help promote heart health, and are also high in monounsaturated fatty acids – the good fat! Olive oils can range in price from inexpensive to rather pricey.  I like to keep a less expensive one around for cooking with, and save my pricier, more flavorful olive oils to drizzle on salads.


Honey or other natural sweeteners tend to balance the flavor of foods.  Even though I advocate alternative sweeteners to refined white sugar, if this is all you have on hand, that’s ok!  Add a little to your cooking, and I guarantee you will be getting less sugar than if you were to buy conventional processed convenience foods off of the shelf.


Salt, in moderation, can also help to bring out the flavors of the food.  I opt for sea salt or Himilayan salt over conventional refined table salt for a much higher dose of important trace minerals.


Raw lemon juice is well known for its antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.  Rich in vitamin C, it also helps maintain a fully functioning immune system.  Using lemon juice when preparing leafty greens tends to brighten the dish and make much tastier!

Garlic & Onions

Garlic and onions (ok, this is technically two, but they are both part of the allium family and kind of go together) make a very flavorful base when used in any savory dish, and have huge health benefits to boot.  When cooking any vegetable, I always begin by sautéing both with a little olive oil and then adding in my greens, with a little salt, pepper and any other spices that I’d like for the dish.

Experiment, have fun, and let me know some of your creations in the comments below!

xo, Brooke

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