A great way to ensure success with managing diabetes, is to create nutritious no fuss meals and to have plenty of healthy ingredients on hand! Stocking your fridge with key staples can encourage better meal planning. Below are some good fridge items to have accessible for quick and easy meals and snacks.
Non-starchy veggies have plenty of fiber, vitamins and minerals and are both low in carbs and calories. According to the USDA My Plate Method, half of your plate should consist of non-starchy vegetables to help maintain stable blood sugar. By filling your fridge with plenty of vegetables, this will help you include them regularly in your diet:
- Keep pre-washed lettuce/spinach or greens for quick salads, lettuce wraps, or to tuck into sandwiches.
- Have precut washed carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, snap peas and grape/cherry tomatoes available for snacking, to add to your plate for an easy side or to throw on top a quick salad. These also work very well with healthy dips such as guacamole or hummus.
- Stock key veggies for roasting, steaming, and stir frying, like cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, and eggplant.
- Try low sodium tomato juice/V-8 or mixed green based juices for a refreshing veggie-filled beverage.
In addition to vegetables, fresh fruits are also chocked full of fiber, vitamins and minerals… and when eaten in reasonable portions, can be a great option to consume as part of a healthy meal plan for managing diabetes.
- Some whole fresh fruits like apples, pears and oranges can be kept on the countertop, but can also be chilled in the fridge for a great grab and go snack, dessert, or breakfast side.
- Have washed grapes and berries ready to snack on, put on top of cereals/yogurt or to blend into smoothies.
- Keep cubed melons, or other cut up fruits for fruit salad as a delish end to lunch or dinner, snack or healthy dessert.
Along with non-starchy veggies, lean proteins should be one of the mainstays of your meals for optimal energy and blood sugar management. Consuming low fat proteins throughout the day helps to keep you feeling full, your blood sugars stable and moreover,helps to maintain body proteins like our muscles and immune cells. Another good protein source is peanut butter and other nut butters. While nut based proteins are high in fat, and need to be eaten in smaller portions to control calories, when consumed in moderation, they contain healthy unsaturated fats that add flavor and help with satiety.
- Keep chicken, turkey, fish, eggs/egg whites, tofu to have on hand for protein packed meals. If you do not have time for preparation, buy precooked versions of turkey, chicken, tofu and fish or hard-boiled eggs to have on top of salads, or with a side of cooked veggies.
- Stock low fat and high protein dairy like 2% cottage cheese and low-fat cheese for a readily available protein source. Serve cottage cheese with chopped fruit, or veggies for an easy lunch, and try sliced low fat cheese on sandwiches or salads or serve it with apple slices or whole grain crackers for a delicious and nutritious snack.
- Spread peanut butter on whole grain toast, crackers, waffles or apple slices for a satisfying meal or snack.
Milks and yogurt
Milk and yogurt contain protein and carbs for energy and also have calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and teeth. If you cannot digest milk there are non-dairy alternatives that are soy, oat, almond and rice based to choose from as well. Milk naturally contains lactose, a milk sugar so it does have carbohydrate and you will want to check labels for added sugars in yogurts and milk substitutes. Newly popular Greek yogurt is strained yogurt that is thicker, higher in protein and lower in carbs.
- Enjoy milk and milk substitutes with whole grain cereals, blended with fruit and protein powder in smoothies or as a beverage with meals.
- Keep yogurt/Greek yogurt in the fridge for a quick and easy snack or meal. Top it with berries and chopped almonds for a healthy breakfast or dessert.
Condiments and herbs
Some healthier condiments to keep handy in the fridge to add flavor to your meals and recipes without too many carbs or calorie include:
- Mustard, hummus, salsa, low sodium soy sauce low calorie dressings and vinegars
- Fresh herbs like basil, mint, rosemary and cilantro
And for some great ideas for more nutritious foods to add at home, check out our previous post on creating a healthy pantry!