If you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it all begins with a healthy grocery list.
As the saying goes, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. If you’re making over your approach to health and wellness, it makes sense to start with grocery staples you’ll return to again and again.
Gold’s Gym Wellness Director Connie Cheng recommends putting these six healthy items on your grocery list to give your fridge and pantry a new look.
1. Whole wheat bread
“Substitute white flour grains for whole grains to increase your fiber intake, which will make you feel full longer,” Cheng says. “Whole grains are also a source of B vitamins for energy and contain some omega-3 fatty acids for anti-inflammation.”
2. Plain yogurt
“This has the same taste profile as sour cream,” she says. “Swap it into any recipe you make that uses sour cream, or, if you want to add protein, use Greek yogurt instead.”
“You want to make healthy foods taste good, and mustard is low in calories. Use it as a condiment instead of mayonnaise.”
“This is another mayo substitute for your healthy grocery list,” Cheng says. “If you’re craving the fat content of mayo, avocado is a healthier source. It’s still calorically dense, however, so limit your daily serving to one-fourth of an avocado.”
5. Canned beans
Add these to a salad or use them as a side dish for a quick, easy way to add protein and fiber, which will help keep you full. “If you’re watching your salt intake, rinse the beans before serving,” she says. “It will remove 30 percent of the sodium.” Try black beans in Latin and Caribbean recipes for a bit of sweetness; kidney beans for a firm texture that will hold up well in soups and chili; or navy beans, which will absorb the flavor of the dish.
6. Frozen fruits and veggies
Fresh produce picked and eaten in its peak season is best. But when that’s not possible, frozen can be a great alternative. “If foods are frozen as soon as they’re harvested, they may have more nutrients in them than fresh produce that has traveled from far away to end up in your local store,” Cheng says. You can easily add fruit to oatmeal, yogurt and smoothies. For veggies, check the ingredients to make sure only the vegetable is listed and that no sauces have been added.
Make healthy eating easier
Once you’ve stocked your kitchen with healthier options, make a few adjustments to get the most out of them.
You want your healthy foods to be easily accessible and simple to prepare so you’re more likely to eat them.
Frozen produce and canned goods, for example, are ready to cook and can be stocked in your freezer and pantry at all times. But if you prefer fresh produce, consider buying precut items to avoid waste.
“If you consistently throw away fresh veggies because you can’t get through them quick enough before they spoil,” Cheng says, “either go home and chop them up first thing to make them ready to use, or buy them already cleaned and cut, and place the containers where everyone can see them.”
Consider buying meals from the prepared foods section in the grocery store, too. Cheng says to choose healthy options with few processed ingredients (read the labels); keep several in your fridge and stick them in the oven when you want to eat — no additional preparation required. “Don’t think you have to make everything from scratch,” she says.
“If stocking healthy prepared foods will help you make good nutritional choices, then there’s nothing wrong with that.”