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Healthy shopping decisions
Personal Health

This Healthy Shopping List Makes Better Food Choices a Breeze

When you're trying to eat right, a healthy shopping list can be one of your best allies. A well-organized list guarantees that you'll always have the right ingredients on hand to make nutritious meals come together quickly and efficiently. Use this healthy shopping list to stock your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and say goodbye to last-minute trips to the supermarket.

The Pantry

  • Canned beans: Whether they're black, pinto, kidney, or garbanzo, canned beans are a speedy way to add protein and fiber to soup, salads, or pasta. You can keep sodium under control by opting for low-sodium varieties.
  • Low-sodium chicken and vegetable broth: Add these to soups, stews, stir-fries, and pasta dishes.
  • Canned tuna and salmon: Canned fish is a convenient way to work more heart-healthy omega-3 fats onto your plate. Plus, they pump up the protein in sandwiches, salads, and pasta.
  • Canned plum tomatoes and tomato paste: Like canned beans, canned tomatoes can be a sneaky source of added salt. Comparing brands can help you find the lowest sodium varieties.
  • Whole-grain cereal: Whole-grain cereal supplies fiber for healthy digestion, and it's good for your waistline too. Look for brands that contain at least 5 grams of fiber and a maximum of 8 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Brown rice, barley, bulgur, and quinoa: These slowly digested whole grains make a satisfying side dish. You can also toss them into salads and soups because their complex carbohydrates help you stay full between meals.
  • Pasta: Whole-wheat pasta is another great way to squeeze in a serving of whole grains. However, traditional semolina pasta has benefits too. A 2-ounce serving gives you 2 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein, along with important nutrients such as folate and iron.
  • Peanut and almond butter: Don't just save these for sandwiches! Stir them into yogurt, hot cereal, and pasta sauce. For the healthiest picks, seek out brands that are free of added sugar and partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Canola and olive oils: Make these heart-friendly oils your go-to fats for salad dressings and sauteing.
  • Herbs and spices: Dried herbs and spices dial up the flavor of your favorite foods without added calories.
  • Red wine, balsamic, and white wine vinegars: Skip store-bought salad dressings and use these to whip up your own healthier vinaigrettes.
  • Whole-wheat and white flour: Try a mixture of half whole-wheat and half white flour to increase the fiber in baked goods.
  • Sugar, honey, and maple syrup: Use these sparingly to sweeten hot cereal, baked goods, and French toast.

The Refrigerator

  • Salsa: Spoon it on chicken, fish, tacos, or eggs for a quick flavor kick.
  • Nuts: Whether they're pecans, peanuts, or pistachios, nuts contain delicate fats that spoil quickly, so be sure to store them in the fridge. They'll stay fresh there for up to a year.
  • Butter: A little bit of butter can add velvety texture to sauces and baked goods.
  • Cheese: Grated Parmesan and shredded low-fat mozzarella and cheddar
  • Plain low-fat Greek yogurt: Try it instead of sour cream on a baked potato or in place of heavy cream in sauces.
  • Milk: 1 percent or nonfat
  • Eggs
  • Condiments: Some good go-tos include ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, mayonnaise, and reduced-sodium soy sauce.

The Freezer

  • Vegetables: Picked at the peak of freshness and flash-frozen shortly afterwards, frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh. Because they're less likely to spoil, there's also less waste. For an instant protein boost to your rice, quinoa, or pasta, make sure to buy frozen peas and edamame.
  • Frozen fruit: Stock up on frozen strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cherries to enjoy your favorite fruits all year round. Blend them into smoothies, or microwave them for a warm sauce you can spoon over yogurt or hot cereal.
  • Shrimp: You can safely thaw frozen shrimp in minutes under cold running water, making them ideal for nights when you have to get dinner on the table in a hurry.
  • Chicken cutlets: With 26 grams of protein per every 4 ounces, chicken cutlets are a cinch for adding lean protein to meals. Store them in single-serve plastic bags and defrost them overnight in the fridge.

Keep this healthy shopping list handy, and you'll always have everything you need to cook delicious, nutritious meals right at your fingertips!

Posted in Personal Health

Karen Ansel is a nationally recognized nutrition consultant, speaker, journalist and author. Her work has been featured in Fitness, Shape, Oprah, Weight Watchers, Parade, Woman’s Day, and Women’s Health magazines. She received her Master's of Science in clinical nutrition from New York University. An active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Karen belongs to several dietetic practice groups including Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Food and Culinary Professionals, and Nutrition Entrepreneurs.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.