We all lead busy, hectic lives, and this can make it hard to plan ahead and always eat the right things. Sometimes we just need something really easy and convenient to eat, no faffing or thinking required.
So, I’ve compiled a list of top foods that you can keep in your house to make things as easy as possible when you’re short on time and ideas. These are based around goals of health, weight loss, and still enjoying what you eat – a very key part of losing weight and actually keeping it off for good.
If you make sure you have these things in stock, you’ll always be able to rustle up something super quick and stay on track to achieving your goals.
The ideas are broken down into three sections – things you can keep in the cupboard, the fridge and the freezer.
In the Cupboard
Porridge is a great breakfast, and with protein powder mixed in it’s even better in terms of nutrition. Add some frozen berries too and it’s better still.
Mixing with protein powder will change the texture so it takes a bit of getting used to, but it a lot of people really like it once they’ve got the timing and thickness to their liking.
Whether you cook on the hob or in the microwave, I would suggest cooking the oats for a couple of minutes first, then stir in the powder. Then add more milk or water if needed, cook longer if needed, and make sure you stir enough to get lumps out (it’s worth the practise! My favourite breakfast).
You can also mix raw oats with yogurt, milk, protein powder and fruit and then leave in the fridge to make overnight oats – a perfect grab and go breakfast.
Protein powder is hugely helpful to have in stock for quick and easy meals and snacks. It can be mixed with water or any type of milk to make a shake, mixed with yogurt to make a very tasty dessert, mixed with oats (see above) or used for a spot of healthy baking such as this easy and delicious Protein Chocolate Brownie recipe.
For best value protein in various flavours, click HERE to go to the myprotein website whey protein page.
I’m including this one because healthy fats are essential for a healthy body. And although it is high in calories, olive oil is linked with a range of benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, improved cholesterol levels, and reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
It’s fine to cook with at a variety of temperatures – it’s actually pretty stable at high heat contrary to some blogs you might read. 1 tablespoon is 120 calories, so 2-3 teaspoons per portion is usually about right.
Frylite / 1 cal spray
This is great to use when the meal you’re cooking already has fat in it, or you’ve eaten a lot of fat earlier in the day, and are looking to keep the calories down for you next meal. In this situation, it’s a very good alternative to using oil.
Also works well when frying protein pancakes – couple of pancake recipes for you HERE.
These can be very helpful to snack on if you’re hungry between meals.
Kallo rice cakes are a good choice – taste nice (especially blueberry and vanilla flavour) and only 35-40 calories per rice cake. Reduced fat soft cheese, Philadelphia lightest, a thin spread of nut butter, or my personal favourite – marmite, are great to spread on top.
Low-calorie hot chocolate
Options and Cadbury highlights are very tasty favourites here. Sainsburys low-calorie hot chocolate is also very good (cheaper and goes frothy on top – love that).
All are only 39 calories per serving – perfect when you have a craving for something warm or sweet, or if you just love hot chocolate and want to reduce your calories.
Cauliflower / sweet potato rice sachets
Cauliflower rice sachets are helpful but not to everyone’s taste (including mine). Personally I’ve found these vegi sweet potato sachets taste better and are stilll only 50 calories per serving. Both options are brilliant to keep in the cupboard for bulking out meals.
They work out around 60 – 75% less calories than rice, and you get some extra nutrition in there too.
Super easy and convenient way to get protein in. Have it into a salad, on a jacket potato mixed with a bit of Greek yogurt, or in a warburtons thin if you like tuna mayo sandwiches and need an easy portable meal/snack.
Tuna in brine or spring water is slightly low calories than in sunflower oil.
Helpful if you decide to make a homemade pizza, and also means you can make shakshuka – a delicious quick and easy meal that requires passata, eggs, and a handful of other easy ingredients.
Recipe? Oh ok then, here you go: Shakshuka Recipe 🙂
A very versatile food that can be used in salads, healthy baking recipes, and baked for a tasty snack.
Chickpeas are a good vegetarian protein option, and a great source of fibre for a healthy gut.
Sometimes difficult to find, but these have recently made a return to the shelves of my local Sainsburys and have been previously found in Waitrose. Skinni wraps are great for two reasons.
One, they are less than 100 calories each (most wraps of a similar size are 170-180 calories).
Two, they are house-shaped, with a triangle at the bottom that you can fold inside, meaning that the filling doesn’t fall out. Hurrah! A wonderful invention.
These can make a nice snack or pudding – I really like peaches with Liberte yogurt for a healthy and refreshing dessert.
Go for fruit tinned in juice rather than syrup to save on unnecessary extra calories and sugar.
Nandos Piri Piri salt
This stuff makes almost anything taste good. We love it on chips (see the freezer section) and also stirred into soup or sweet potato mash. Found in most supermarkets and well worth having in stock. Thank you Nandos.
In the Fridge
Obvious, but the amount of times that having fruit available has been enough to (just about) satisfy a craving for chocolate is insane.
Of all the fruits, berries are right up there with the best in terms of being low calorie, low sugar, high fibre and packed with antioxidants.
But all fruit is good. Watermelon is another great one. Depending on what we fancy / what’s on offer in the supermarket, we love strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, clementines, mango, pineapple and grapes.
High protein yogurt
A really easy way to get your protein in for not many extra calories. Plain Liberte, Total 0%, SkyR and Arla yogurts are all great choices.
Good to fill you up for a while and great mixed with fruit for pudding. Liberte plain yogurt also makes a very good alternative to sour cream when having fajitas or similar meals. Great lower calorie, higher protein alternative.
Need a quick and easy meal? If you have eggs, you’re sorted!
Omelettes, poached or scrambled on toast, boiled or fried, made in shakshuka, used for protein pancakes… there are so many options.
Eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fats and please do not worry about the cholesterol they contain. Dietary cholesterol from eggs has been shown to have minimal effect on human blood cholesterol. So enjoy them, they are awesome.
Dairlylea cheese triangles
These are great to add into salads, spread on crackers or rice cakes, or eat as a snack.
Only 25 calories per triangle and very helpful in that they are portioned out, so unlike normal cheese, it’s very difficult to underestimate the amount you have.
Unsweetened almond milk
A very good low-calorie alternative to milk (helpful if you don’t tolerate dairy that well).
Also works well when mixed with protein powder to make a shake (creates a better thickness than water or normal milk, but any of these options are fine).
Slices of meat / smoked salmon
Having a packet of meat or salmon in the fridge is always a good idea for easy protein.
You could mix it into a salad, put in a warburtons thin for a quick sandwich, add to an omelette or just eat as it is for a high protein snack.
Heck chicken sausages
These are only around 50 calories per chipolata and great for easy cooking – plus a nice addition to a risotto or casserole, or with chips / sweet potato and veg.
They also make a good little high protein snack and are a handy option to keep in the freezer too.
Hartley’s 10 cal jellies
For less than 10 calories per pot… these can be brilliant for when you just fancy something sweet.
Various flavours (Key Lime pie is my favourite), and also very nice with one of the ice cream options below. And there is always some child-like happiness to be found with a bowl of jelly and ice cream.
In the Freezer
Less than 100 calories per thin – so a great way to still enjoy a sandwich for few extra calories.
Nice with smoked salmon and low-fat soft cheese, or ham, chicken or turkey for protein.
Also very nice toasted and topped with mashed avocado.
Hi-lo protein bread
This can be found in Sainsburys and is a great low carb alternative to normal bread.
86 calories and 8g of protein per slice, plus it still tastes nice – just like a wholemeal loaf with seeds.
Good for having with poached eggs, or you could mash half an avocado with a bit of salt and lemon juice and spread it on two slices of toast… both great choices to get your healthy fats in too.
There are so many brilliant frozen veg options now – peppers, broccoli and spinach are three favourites we have, but there are many more and all are great.
Sainsburys Mediterranean chargrilled vegetables are very nice pan-fried to bulk out chicken fajitas, or roasted with any meal. Frozen spinach is also good to add to smoothies. No excuse for not getting your veg in!
Frozen summer fruit berries
These are lovely mixed with oats and chocolate protein powder to make porridge or overnight oats. Also great added to smoothies, or mixed/blended with yogurt to make a frozen yogurt dessert.
Any frozen fruit is great to keep on stock. I’m told frozen grapes and frozen watermelon both make very nice snack options too.
Omega 3 fish fingers
An easy and convenient source of protein and healthy fats, and something even the kids will like.
A fish finger sandwich is actually a pretty well-balanced meal… with wholemeal bread and some form of vegetables or salad on the side (and of course, ketchup), you’re winning.
McCain 5% fat frozen chips
Nowt wrong with chips now and again. And if including this kind of food helps you feel like you’re not on a diet, and therefore makes the whole process easier to stick to, you are winning.
These are some of the best in terms of being lower on the calorie scale and really tasty. Add to a meal containing protein and veg, and enjoy. Nando’s piri piri salt is an amazing addition to these too.
A low calorie / high protein ready meal
A ready meal might not be optimal in terms of nutrition, but it’s a lot better than a takeaway when you’re too tired to cook. And if you look to make sure calories are less than 600 (often you find them for 400-500) and protein is 25g or more, that’s actually pretty good.
If it’s missing veg, add some of your frozen ones and you’re winning. Huzzah!
Quick and easy protein option that you can add to fresh or frozen veg and make a healthy stir fry within 10 minutes.
Also means you can make a good paella (big fan of Jamie Oliver’s chicken and chorizo one).
Mini twister ice creams
For when you really fancy an ice cream, something sweet after dinner, or a refreshing snack in the Summer.
At around 40 calories these will hit the spot and still keep you well on track. Other great options are fruit pastille lollies, Fab lollies and Mini milks.
Halo / Oppo / Brewers ice cream
Ben and Jerrys… delicious, but over 1000 calories per tub. These new kids on the block… most are 280-350 calories, which is quite a saving. And they’re still delicious.
Halo Top, Oppo, and Breyers can all be found in most supermarkets. One of those three brands will usually be on offer, so it’s worth going for that one and then stocking up when you discover your favourite.
A couple of scoops with berries (and maybe a little slice of protein brownie) makes an excellent low calorie dessert.
Always helpful to keep a banana (already peeled and broken into a few pieces) in the freezer for some easy baking or shake-making.
If you’re low on protein for the day, blending a frozen banana with a scoop of protein and a dash of unsweetened almond milk makes a really tasty healthy ice cream treat. Otherwise it makes a great smoothie (try it with frozen berries, almond milk, and a scoop of protein powder – yum). Also for adding to a pre or post workout protein shake to get some extra carbs in.
BONUS TIP – In your handbag / car glovebox
When you’re out and about and feeling hungry, having a protein bar to hand can be a massive help and save you falling off track. In the last few years they have transformed from chewy and very artificial to almost as good as a chocolate bar in terms of taste.
At around 200 calories, thats slightly less than most standard chocolate bars, along with the addition of around 20g of protein to help fuel your body and fill you up.
Grenade carb killas are the favourite of many, including myself and a number of my clients. They can be found in Holland and Barrett, Tesco and Sainsburys. If you really like them, buying a box on amazon works best for per-bar value.
Promax bars, PhD Smart bars, and Quest bars are also good options.
Another great little snack that can save you hunting down a chocolate bar. Minimal protein in these but at around 100-130 calories they are a great alternative to many other options you could end up going for. Well worth keeping in stock for an easy grab and go option.
So there you go – I hope you found this helpful.
Are there any foods you’re going to get after reading this? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
And if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help – you can get in touch with me HERE.