We know meal prep is essential to upholding our healthy-eating goals, but for those weeks when we can barely find the time to find matching socks, a solid arsenal of pantry staples can help. From seasoning mixes to side dishes to easy protein add-ins, when you’re short on time, these pantry workhorses will help get you through the week when you’re too tired to cook on a Sunday.
Perfect for #Veganuary, this new canned seafood alternative is made with non-GMO, plant-based protein ingredients and is gluten- and mercury-free. It’s packed with nutritious omega-3s and has 7 grams of protein in just 50 calories, so it’s an amazing base for any quick meal or snack. We’re partial to the Tuno with Sriracha, but there is also lemon pepper and Tuno in spring water flavors to help switch things up.($33 for pack of 12; amazon.com)
When we’re low on inspiration, time, and willpower, these one-skillet meal starters from Knorr really help us get by. Just sauté your chicken and veggies, then add in your pre-seasoned pack of flavorful grains. Boom… you’ve got a protein-packed one-pan meal to inspire you all week.($10 for 4; amazon.com)
Eggs are often an essential fridge staple, but we love keeping this all-natural plant-based egg replacement in the pantry for our weekly baked goods or anything else that needs an egg. Made with just chia seeds and garbanzo beans, the neat egg is easy to mix and offers 2 grams of protein per 25-calorie tablespoon.($7; amazon.com)
We’ll never say no to a big bowl of pasta, but when it comes packed with 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving, you know we’re stocking up. This naturally vegan, gluten-free pasta is made with organic chickpeas with no added sugars, salt, or wonky ingredients. Add a jar of store-bought sauce and your favorite veg, and you’ve got a protein-rich, plant-based meal.($21 for 6; amazon.com)
With a simple combination of brown rice and lentils, this all-natural heat-and-serve grain pack is as close to homemade as it gets. Bonus points for the fact that we can get this gluten-free, vegan side dish in our mouth within 90 seconds and that there are no strange preservatives or additives inside.($18 for 6; amazon.com)
Taco Tuesday gets a little more flavorful (and much easier) with these taco skillet sauces. They’re available for ground beef, chicken, shrimp, steak, or veggies: Just pour a pack into your skillet with your cooked protein, slap it into a tortilla, and get in there.($24 for 6; amazon.com)
With 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving, this whole-grain, nutrient-dense staple can be in your Tupperware and ready for the week in fewer than two minutes. It’s also certified organic and free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, adding a healthy, hearty side dish to your weekly rotation.($17 for 6; amazon.com)
Remember those ramen noodle cups that helped us survive college? Introducing their grown-up quinoa counterpart with an impressive 80-percent less sodium per cup. Just add water and let the grains, beans, vegetables, and spices rehydrate for a protein- and fiber-rich side in five minutes.($17 for 3; amazon.com)
Looking for some new ways to effortlessly sneak more veggies into meal prep (without actually prepping)? We got you. This shelf-stable “stir-and-go” meal is completely vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, and non-GMO, with tons of fiber and protein in each serving. You might want to make this one a bulk order.($20 for 6; amazon.com)
Just when you thought Campbell’s was only good for its canned tomato soup, they bring us these packs. If you’ve got frozen raw protein in the house but no inspiration, the Campbell’s skillet sauces have got you covered. These sauces are surprisingly low in calories and sugar but help breathe new life into your meals each week. To make a lunchroom envy-worthy shrimp scampi, just cook your shrimp in a skillet, pour in the sauce, and heat through. No need to stick to simple olive oil and sea salt when you can have flavors like this in an instant. ($2; amazon.com)
The only thing more comforting than stewed lentils in a spicy, aromatic sauce is not having to make said lentils. These organic Indian Dal packs are vegan and gluten-free, with 6 grams of plant-based protein per serving. Just zap in the microwave and serve on quinoa, rice, or naan for a super-simple meal.($37 for 6; amazon.com)
Overnight oats may seem like a great make-ahead meal-prep option, but making them tasty requires a little more imagination than mixing oats in a bowl with milk. Simplify the process with these overnight oat cups packed with quinoa, chia, and flax. Available in six tasty flavors with up to 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per cup, these “just add milk” breakfasts are an easy way to start your day.($16 for 12; amazon.com)
Canned tuna has come a long way from the days of sad mayo-heavy sandwiches and potato chip-topped casseroles, yet it remains a pantry staple for a reason. It’s versatile, inexpensive, and chock-full of protein, and if we can find a way to make it tasty without too much work, we’re in.That’s why we’re loving these seasoned tuna pouches for throwing on salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, and more. They also come equipped with a spoon for the days you just can’t be bothered with life.($18 for 12; amazon.com)
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