Healthy Foods Checklist

Healthy Foods Checklist

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

 

It is easy to eat healthfully if you keep your kitchen stocked with nutrient rich foods that are also low in fat and calories. And the first step to a healthier diet starts in the grocery store. Use this list of healthy basics to stock your kitchen with all the ingredients you will need to whip up nutritious meals. Before heading out to the grocery store, check your favorite recipes (or use ours) and add to this shopping list.

Dairy

  • Fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Low-fat or reduced fat cheeses (like Cabot 50% less fat)
  • Fat-free cottage cheese
  • Fat-free or low-fat Greek style yogurt (higher in protein)
  • Trans fat free margarine
  • Butter
  • Fat-free or reduced fat sour cream
  • Fat-free or light cream cheese
  • Eggs/egg substitute
  • Tofu

Cereals, crackers, rice, noodles, and pasta

  • Plain cereal, dry or cooked
  • Saltines, soda crackers (low-sodium)
  • Graham crackers
  • Other low-fat whole grain crackers
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Bulgur, couscous, or kasha
  • Hominy
  • Polenta
  • Hominy grits
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Aramanth
  • Oatmeal

Vegetables

(fresh, canned, and frozen)

  • Any fresh vegetables
  • Low sodium or no-added-salt canned vegetables
  • Frozen vegetables without added fat or sodium
  • Tomato sauce
  • Lower sodium canned soup

Breads, muffins, and rolls

  • Whole grain bread, bagels, English muffins or pita bread
  • Corn tortillas (not fried)
  • Low-fat flour tortillas
  • Rice crackers
  • Challah

Nuts and seeds

  • Almonds, unsalted
  • Mixed nuts, unsalted
  • Peanuts, unsalted
  • Walnuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds, unsalted
  • Sunflower seeds, unsalted
  • Cashews, unsalted
  • Pecans, unsalted
  • Pistachios, unsalted

Fats and oils

  • Mayonnaise, low-fat
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Olive oil
  • Safflower oil

Fresh or frozen meats, fish, poultry

  • White meat chicken and turkey (skin off)
  • Fish (not battered)
  • Beef, round or sirloin
  • Extra lean ground beef
  • Pork tenderloin
  • 95% fat-free lunch meats or low-fat deli meats

Fruit and juice

(fresh, canned, and frozen)

  • Any fresh fruit
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Canned fruit in juice or water
  • Frozen fruit without added sugar
  • Dried fruits (higher in calories than other fruits)

Beans and legumes

(if canned, no-salt-added)

  • Lentils
  • Beans – Black, kidney, navy, pinto, fava, Great white
  • northern, garbanzo
  • Black-eyed peas

Baking items

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Canned skim or low fat evaporated milk
  • Non-fat dry milk powder
  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Cornstarch
  • Unflavored gelatin
  • Angel food cake mix

Condiments, sauces, seasonings, and spreads

  • Regular and light salad dressings
  • Variety of mustards
  • Ketchup
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Jam, jelly, or honey
  • Spices
  • Flavored vinegars
  • Salsa
  • Canned green chilies
  • Soy sauce (low-sodium)
  • Bouillon cubes/granules/broth (low-sodium)

Beverages

  • Coffee
  • Assorted teas
  • No-calorie drink mixes
  • Reduced calorie juices
  • Unsweetened iced tea
  • Carbonated water
  • Water

A few cooking tips to slash fat and calories

  • Use low fat evaporated skim milk or fat free half and half instead of heavy cream in recipes like soups, casseroles and sauces.
  • Try unsweetened cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate to save lots of fat calories (5 g saturated fat per half square of baking chocolate). Use it in hot cocoa, cake or soufflé recipes.
  • Crumbled bacon, if used sparingly, adds lots of flavor and only 35 calories and 2 g fat per tablespoon. Lower the fat and calories even more by using turkey bacon or skip the bacon altogether and enhance the flavor of the dish with smoked paprika or crushed green peppercorns.
  • When it comes to making tacos, spaghetti sauce, chili and your favorite dishes that call for ground beef, use the leanest beef or ground turkey breast and add in some rinsed canned beans. Beans add lots of flavor, protein and fiber without any fat.
  • No one will ever notice the difference if you swap out sour cream with fat free Greek style yogurt, plain fat free yogurt or fat free sour cream. These substitutes add the same creamy texture and tanginess of sour cream without any of the fat.
  • When making your own salad dressing, use more of a unique flavored vinegar, less oil and a teaspoon of exotic mustard for a great tasting, light salad dressing, marinade or drizzle over cooked vegetables.
  • Start experimenting with whole grains including barley, bulgur, farro and quinoa, as well as brown, black, or purple rice. Cook grains in low sodium, low fat chicken stock for added flavor and toss in chopped vegetables for delicious and nutritious high fiber grain medleys.