How to Build a Healthier Grocery List
In the fast-paced lives we lead, it can be difficult to make time for our health. Between work, family, friends and activities, we often need calendars and lists to help keep us organized. So why not use the same tools to help us look after our health? A grocery list is an excellent way to make better food choices and meet your health goals.
A Healthier Cart is a Happy Cart
Building a balanced grocery list based on the 5 food groups is a great place to start. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat or nonfat dairy. Not only can this help you make healthier choices, but it can also help save you time at the store and lead to creative new dishes your family will love. We’ve gathered some helpful tips to get you started as you learn to create a healthy grocery list that’s not only delicious and nutritious, but practical for busy weeknights.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Try to incorporate as many colors as possible into your grocery list. The more colors, the more nutrients your meals will provide.
- Buying seasonal produce is also helpful to stay on budget.
- When eating canned or packaged fruits, choose options packed in their own juice or water (instead of light or heavy syrup).
- Consider frozen veggies that don’t contain high calorie sauces, to reduce your saturated fat and sodium intake.
- Choose dried fruits without added sugars, such as the Simple Truth™ Mixed Fruit and Strawberry Banana Freeze Dried Fruit Variety Pack.
- Canned foods are processed at the peak of freshness, preserving flavor and nutrients. Make the switch to lower sodium versions of canned vegetables, juices and soups. Enhance the flavor by adding your own salt-free seasonings.
- Look for 100% whole wheat, whole grain or sprouted grain versions of bread, cereal, tortillas and pastas.
- Try ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth, farro and millet to increase dietary fiber and protein.
- Choose cauliflower or zucchini pizza crust with veggies to increase fiber in a meal.
- Looking for a pasta swap? Spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or pasta with cauliflower or beans are great ways to get an extra dose of fiber and veggies.
- Love fried rice? Try using a mix of rice and riced cauliflower, carrots, broccoli or cabbage to add color and nutrients to your dish.
- Search for low-fat ground meat options that are 90% lean.
- “Loin” or “round” cuts of meat are lower in saturated fat.
- Buy skinless poultry, or if purchased with the skin, remove it before cooking.
- Try plant-based protein options to add variety and fiber to your routine.
- If you’re a fan of toast in the morning, swap butter or jelly with peanut butter. This nutty spread contains protein, fiber and unsaturated fat, which will keep you satisfied for much longer.
- Seek out low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt.
- Be aware of added sugar in flavored yogurts and choose those that have 8 grams or less per serving.
- Milk alternatives aren’t always comparable equivalents, since they may lack protein or contain added sugar.
- Calcium-fortified soy milk provides similar protein to animal milk.
- Look for unsweetened varieties of milk alternatives.
- Add fresh fruit to your favorite plain, nonfat yogurt.
- Choose liquid vegetable oils for cooking and baking that contain nutrients like unsaturated fats and vitamin E.
- Use oils containing healthy fats like olives or avocados instead of butter.
- Try yogurt as a swap for vegetable oil to add creaminess and a slightly tangy taste.
- Use nonfat cooking spray in place of butter or oil.
- Sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn and vegetable dishes for a cheesy taste.
- Choose hummus or smashed avocado as a spread on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.
- Nuts and seeds provide more crunch and nutrients than croutons.
Tips to Keep Grocery Lists Nutritious
- Plan ahead: Taking the time to create a menu is a step that will save time and money overall.
- Realistic expectations: Start slowly by building a healthy pantry, stocking the freezer with healthy frozen veggies and gradually incorporating healthier foods into your lifestyle.
- Savvy shopping: Shop the store’s perimeter, where fresh produce, meats and dairy are located. Healthy options can be found in the center aisles of the grocery store too. For example, you’ll most often find healthy oils, whole grains, canned and dried legumes, and spices down the aisles.
- Follow the plan: Arming yourself with a delicious and healthy grocery list is a great way to combat impulse purchases and will make it more likely that your cart’s full of nutritious choices when you leave the store.
Are you excited about the transformation to a healthier grocery shopping list, but have a few questions? Meet with a registered dietitian to make the transition smoother.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.