Staple foods, sometimes referred to as regular food or staple food groups, are the most common types of food consumed by human beings throughout the world. A staple diet, often called a macrobiotic diet, is an eating habit that forms a major part of a person's daily routine and provides a substantial portion of his/her calories. Although the quantity of calories supplied is determined by the number and size of individual food items consumed, the consumption of staples is usually consistent throughout the day (including night time), and some staples are also used in combination with other foods. The macrobiotic diet can be categorized according to a number of broad categories: vegetable and fruit; grain; legume and beans; dairy products; animal meat; and roots, seeds, oils and nuts.
Vegetable and fruit staples are some of the most commonly eaten foods in the world. With over 60% of the global population consuming vegetables on a daily basis, fruits represent the second most common type of staple. Vegetable and fruit grains are commonly used in the preparation of breads, pastas, baked goods, and other food preparations. In addition, some nuts, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, walleye, and others, are considered acceptable as snacks and served as ingredients in food preparations.
Grains – including millet, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, bulgur, and others – are some of the most commonly consumed grains in the world. They provide protein, necessary vitamins and minerals, and other important trace elements. Some of these grains are commonly used in cooking, although bread is a better option if it contains only flour. Other grains are available on the market that can replace millet, sorghum, amaranth, bulgur, and others.
Fruits and vegetables – although they may not be considered a staple by most people – are essential for a balanced diet. They are used in the majority of cooking methods. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also used as snacks during the summer months. Onions, garlic, potatoes, rice cakes, and popcorn are examples of foods that may be considered staples but which are also used frequently as snacks.
Oils and spreads – although they are technically not part of foods, oils and spreads play an important role in the preparation of many dishes. They make for good substitutes for other types of staples. Some examples of commonly used spreads include margarine or shortening, peanut butter, and vegetable spread. Cajun favorites like shrimp, oysters, and crabmeat make excellent choices when it comes to spreads. In addition, sesame seeds and agave nectar are staples in the South but are also gaining popularity elsewhere. In Canada, rice cakes are a very popular breakfast staple.
Other staples include grains and legumes – although beans is usually considered a vegetable, it is in fact a grain. As with vegetables, pulses (in the legume category) are indispensable in the creation of many foods, particularly beans. Some staples are legumes and grains that are staples in one region but not in another. One example is peanuts, which are almost universally considered a legume even though they are actually a peanut. Drinks made from fruit juices (with or without milk) and herbal teas are also staples but are not always present in every cuisine.
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