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.
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
Fat-free or reduced fat sour cream
Fat-free or light cream cheese
Cereals, crackers, rice, noodles, and pasta
Plain cereal, dry or cooked
Saltines, soda crackers (low-sodium)
Other low-fat whole grain crackers
Whole grain pasta
Bulgur, couscous, or kasha
(fresh, canned, and frozen)
Any fresh vegetables
Low sodium or no-added-salt canned vegetables
Frozen vegetables without added fat or sodium
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
Nuts and seeds
Mixed nuts, unsalted
Pumpkin seeds, unsalted
Sunflower seeds, unsalted
Fats and oils
Fresh or frozen meats, fish, poultry
White meat chicken and turkey (skin off)
Fish (not battered)
Beef, round or sirloin
Extra lean ground beef
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)
Beans Black, kidney, navy, pinto, fava, Great white
Non-stick cooking spray
Canned skim or low fat evaporated milk
Non-fat dry milk powder
Angel food cake mix
Condiments, sauces, seasonings, and spreads
Regular and light salad dressings
Variety of mustards
Jam, jelly, or honey
Canned green chilies
Soy sauce (low-sodium)
Bouillon cubes/granules/broth (low-sodium)
No-calorie drink mixes
Reduced calorie juices
Unsweetened iced tea
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.