14 Essential Foods to Keep in Your Kitchen

By Tasija Karosas, Swimming World College Intern

To swimmers, leisure time is not part of our vocabulary.  Since starting swimming, we have ingrained the “never rest” attitude into our brains.  To put it into perspective, our days consist of going from practice to school, school to practice, practice to homework, and then hopefully to bed. With our hectic schedule, fueling tends to always be the least of our worries.  Sometimes, grabbing a quick lunch at Subway or Chick-fil-A is your only option when you are on such a time crunch.

Meal planning can become a swimmer’s best resource when it comes to proper fueling.  That is, if you do it right. Shall we go back to basics?  Let’s look at 14 essential foods that can be combined in many different ways.  If bought at the beginning of the week, these foods can you save you time and provide you with the nutrients that you need.

1. Bread

rebecca-siegel-wheat- bread

Photo Courtesy: Rebecca Siegel

Having a loaf of bread in your cabinet at all times is definitely a number one essential.  When all else fails, who would deny a slice of toast?

2. Leafy greens

Be sure to stock up on leafy greens.  These can make a great base for a salad and can be sautéed with other veggies. Most importantly, leafy greens are dense in nutrients!

3. Eggs

james-bowe-eggs-breakfast

Photo Courtesy: James Bowe

Eggs are extremely versatile.  They can be eaten any time of they day and always supply the perfect amount nutrients.

4. Apples or Bananas

Any type of on-the-go fruit is great to always have in your fridge or on your countertop.  Being able to grab something quick and easy in the morning to throw in your bag to have for a snack is essential for meal planning.

5. Lean Meats

chicken-dinner-star5112

Photo Courtesy: Star5112, flickr

Always having chicken, fish, lean pork, or any type of lean meat you prefer, ensures you will never fall short of your protein needs.

6. Rice

Any type of grain can fall into this category.  A grain should be eaten with every meal.  Therefore, always being stocked up on grains can allow for easier and faster meal planning.

7. Oats

stacy-spensley-rolled-oats-breakfast

Photo Courtesy: Stacy Spensley

With rolled oats, your options are endless.  Some options are, eating oats for breakfast, baking with them, or even putting them in smoothies.

8. Nuts/seeds

Nuts and seeds work as a great snack throughout the day.  Always having these on hand can minimize your hunger pangs.

9. Dried fruit

Dried fruit is great because it comes with all of the nutrition benefits as raw fruit, but none of the messiness. Just be careful not to eat the whole bag! They are, after all, shrunken versions of the raw fruit packed with the same sugars and calories.

10. Peanut Butter

Photo Courtesy: Denise Krebs

Photo Courtesy: Denise Krebs

Peanut butter or almond butter is a must.  When looking for peanut butter, try to find a brand that has three or less ingredients.

11. Oil

Olive oil and sunflower oil offer a low saturated fat content and is great to cook with.

 12. Garlic

crispin-semmens-garlic-cooking-food

Photo Courtesy: Crispin Semmens

Who doesn’t like cooking with garlic?  Having a few fresh garlic cloves lying around can always add a little flavor to a meal.

 13. Salt and Pepper

Salt and pepper have a way of bringing out flavor in all types of foods.  Adding a little extra salt to your meals can always help any type of athlete with electrolyte balance.

14. Dark Chocolate

Now I know what you guys may be thinking, being stocked up on dark chocolate can be a dangerous game.  But dark chocolate is very rich, most of the time you can’t eat that much of it before the flavor starts to become too much.  Allowing yourself to eat a little bit of chocolate is good for you body and mind.

dark-chocolate-sweets-lee-mccoy

Photo Courtesy: Lee McCoy

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Author: Tasija Karosas

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Tasija Karosas is a nutrition major and swimmer at the University of Texas. She grew up in Stowe, Vermont, where she developed her passions for nutrition and swimming.

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