We’re all trying to eat better, right? Keto, paleo, low carb, gluten-free, AIP, etc…Many of us are trying to heal our bodies with changes in our diets. No matter which eating style you prefer (except carnivore), you should probably try to fit more vegetables into your diet.
As someone who tends to feel best eating protein and vegetables for every meal, I’ve spent plenty of time learning which vegetables I eat and which get a little funky in the crisper drawer.
I don’t want to waste money on vegetables that will rot in my fridge.
These are the best vegetables for healthy dinners. We use them the most often. They store well even fresh, but you can often find frozen versions of them, too.
Heads up – these are NOT fancy vegetables. There are no kohlrabi or kale sprouts on this list. I do like all of those foods and I add them seasonally, but these foods are ALWAYS in my fridge or pantry no matter what time of year!
These ingredients are often part of our top 3, quick healthy dinners that we make from our pantry (and fridge & freezer)! They come together quickly and are healthy and tasty.
Keep a well-stocked pantry to eat better & get food on the table faster
We love to keep a well-stocked pantry! By having the basic ingredients for most recipes on hand, we save money, have an easier time cooking from scratch, and we eat a lot healthier!
Best Vegetables for Healthy Dinners
We eat SO MUCH broccoli in our house. It is the fastest green vegetable we can cook and it pairs so well with pretty much every dish. My husband is the broccoli fiend here, but somehow cooking it for him a million times converted me too.
Keep it simple: You know those big bags of prewashed and cut broccoli? They may not be organic all the time and they may make some plastic waste, but they are the EASIEST way to get more vegetables in your life. Sometimes we go through two per week just for the two of us!
Favorite ways to cook broccoli:
- Steam broccoli in salted water and top with melted butter and lemon pepper seasoning
- Roast in the oven and sprinkle with shredded parmesan
- Chop with red onion, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and diced cheddar in a sweet mayo sauce for the BEST broccoli salad
- Blitz in the food processor to make broccoli rice
Cauliflower has been having a major glow up in the last few years because of its low carb content and neutral taste. It’s the new, less starchy potato!
We love cauliflower and always have one in our fridge. First of all, a giant head of cauliflower is typically pretty cheap! It stores well before it goes bad and even if it starts to turn, you can typically trim off the funky part easily.
Keep it simple: Cut off the leaves, rough chop the cauliflower, and add it to your food processor to chop it quickly.
Favorite ways to cook cauliflower:
- Blitz in the food processor until fine to make cauliflower rice
- Steam to top with shredded cheddar
- Drizzle with olive oil and salt to roast in the oven until caramelized
- Rough chop into 1/2 inch pieces to cook down in veggie-packed marinara bowl or other saucy dishes
- Steam and then mash for cauliflower mash
In the summer, we eat zucchini pretty much every day because it is so easy to grow. Our harvest became so overwhelming last year that I posted on our neighborhood Facebook group multiple times. I’m so thankful our neighbors helped us out!
Zucchini reminds me of my years in New Mexico eating calabacitas, a sauteed blend of onion, summer squash, and corn. I love to prepare it that and top with cotija or crumbled goat cheese!
But zucchini is SO versatile that you can certainly use it more ways than that.
Keep it simple: If you have a food processor, you most likely have a grater attachment that will shred zucchini in seconds!
Favorite ways to cook zucchini:
- Sauteed with onion and corn and topped with cotija for calabacitas
- Sliced and cooked with pork in green chile enchilada sauce to serve over steamed cauliflower
- Shredded and cooked down in veggie-packed marinara bowls
- Roasted with olive oil and salt (or slide it into sticks and pop in the air fryer!)
- Shredded for zucchini pizza crust (MY FAVORITE!)
If you love vegetables and have plans for canning, pickling, and preserving, click here to find bulk produce near you!
I wholeheartedly believe that we should be eating WAY more cabbage. First of all, it is incredibly cheap! You can often get a gigantic head for $3-5. It technically counts as a green while also having a natural sweetness. We love using red or green cabbage and always have a head in the fridge. Plus, they tend to keep forever!
Keep it simple: Grab a whole head, slice off the hard base, and chop in two. Use one half now and store the rest in the fridge until later.
Favorite ways to cook cabbage:
- Cut into rough slices and cook down in a large pot with onion, diced apple, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Cook down until soft.
- Shred finely and sneak into soups and saucy dishes for extra veg
- Shred finely and toss with olive oil and salt. Let the cabbage set to create a very simple, fresh slaw
- Cut into thick steaks, coat with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven until caramelized
If you aren’t keto and can tolerate starchier roots like sweet potatoes, they are so flavorful and filling! My husband does not like them, so we’ve found a good workaround. I’ll usually cook sweet potatoes and regular potatoes together, but let him have the regular potatoes (I’ll take a couple, too). This makes meals more interesting for me and we accommodate two eating styles quickly.
Keep it simple: Buy organic and keep the skin on! Just wash, cut off the ends, and chop. Easy!
Favorite ways to cook sweet potatoes:
- Cube and roast in the air fryer or oven (be sure to season before baking!)
- Poke holes in a couple of whole sweet potatoes and then roast. Either eat roasted or blend with butter and salt in the food processor for mashed sweet potato!
- Dice finely and let cook down over ground breakfast sausage. Add scrambled eggs and bake for an egg casserole!
We go through so many onions…We regularly buy yellow or white onions AND red onions because we like to eat them in a variety of ways. They are so aromatic and add so much flavor to any dish! We use onions in our cooking pretty much every day.
Keep it simple: Don’t waste a ton of time dicing your onion to the perfect size unless it’s necessary. We often just cut the onion in half, cut one slice through the middle of the half, and then cut thin slices. This is just fine for most applications.
Favorite ways to cook onions:
- Cut into thin slices and cook down over ground beef for basically any dish (chili, tacos, veggie-packed marinara bowls, etc)
- Cut into quarters and place under roast in the crockpot
- Sautee with carrots and celery as a base for homemade chicken soup
- Sautee with butter before adding fresh snap peas or green beans
- Soak a peeled red onion in very cold ice water before thinly slicing for raw consumption
Okay, I am TOO lazy for carrots. You have to peel them! That’s a pretty low barrier to entry, but I’m often too lazy for that. But when I do peel carrots, I LOVE THEM! I used to eat so many carrots and orange foods when I was a kid that I turned slightly yellow. True story.
Keep it simple: Peel quickly to get it over with. Focus on cutting pieces around the same size to cook evenly.
Favorite ways to cook carrots:
- Peel and cut into large chunks to add to pot roast in the crockpot (FAVORITE)
- Boil coins and serve with a pad of butter
- Sautee with onions and celery as the base for homemade soup
- Peel and roast in sticks (so sweet and yummy! Make three times as much as you think you’ll need because you’ll eat them all in one sitting)
We do always have celery on hand, but it’s not as glamorous as the rest of the vegetables. We don’t typically eat it on its own, but we layer it with other vegetables to build flavor quickly. It’s part of a classic mirepoix – the French combination of celery, onion, and carrots at the base of so many soups and broths.
Keep it simple: Don’t worry about removing the leaves. They add even more celery flavor! I just wash my celery, cut off the very top end, and thinly slice the whole head.
Favorite ways to cook celery:
- Cut into large chunks when cooking a whole chicken in the Instant Pot (don’t forget the onion!)
- Slice into think coins to sautee with onion and carrots as the base of a stir fry
- Finely slice to sautee with onion and carrot as the base of any type of chicken soup (noodle, dumplings, etc)
Best Vegetables for Quick Dinners to Keep on Hand
Although I love all of these vegetables, they are certainly not the only ones out there! We regularly grow a wide variety of crops in our backyard garden and especially love snap peas and green beans. However, those crops are so seasonal that we only eat them in the summer.
We also grow a lot of tomatoes that I enjoy eating in thick steaks with sea salt (we do always have canned tomatoes in the pantry). We’ve been growing tomatillos lately and love their sweet, tangy flavor! We eat so many different crops seasonally, but we use the vegetables in this list as the basis of most of our meals. They’re so versatile, long-lasting, inexpensive, and flavorful.
Which vegetables do you always keep on hand? Are there any you only eat a certain time of the year? Tell us below!