Stock Your Kitchen with Healthy Ingredients

The first step to healthy cooking is to stock your kitchen with foods that you can throw together in a hurry for healthy meals. Keep some of these foods on hand for fast meals on busy nights.

In the cabinets

  • Beans: Black, pinto, kidney, chickpeas, lentils, refried beans, black-eyed peas
  • Rice: Brown, long-grain rice mixes
  • Pasta: Whole wheat spaghetti, fettuccini, penne, bowtie, orzo, ramen noodles
  • Other grains: Couscous, quinoa, cornmeal, whole wheat crackers, breadsticks, breadcrumbs
  • Onions (you might keep these and the next two items on your counter)
  • Potaoes
  • Garlic
  • Canned tomatoes: Diced, whole, seasoned, sun-dried, sauce, salsa
  • Canned vegetables: Mixed vegetables, green beans, mushrooms (look for low-salt brands)
  • Canned and dried fruits: Applesauce (unsweetened), raisins, dates
  • Sauces: Pasta, pizza, tomato (look for varieties that contain no or very little added sugar)
  • Seasoning sauces: Worcestershire, soy, teriyaki, hot sauce, Tabasco, sofrito, and chili (after opening these go in refrigerator)
  • Soups: Canned soups, broth, and bouillon and dried soup mixes (look for varieties that are lower in sodium and are broth-based rather than cream-based)
  • Fish: Canned tuna, salmon, minced clams, sardines
  • Peanut butter
  • Low-fat or no-fat evaporated milk
  • Vinegars: Cider, red and white wine, balsamic
  • Your favorite herbs and spices
  • Oils: Olive, canola, vegetable, peanut, and non-fat cooking spray

In the refrigerator

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Low-fat milk or non-fat milk and yogurt (without added sugar)
  • Reduced-fat cheeses: Cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, Monterey Jack, cottage, Parmesan
  • Reduced-fat sour cream and cream cheese
  • Whole wheat and corn tortillas
  • Eggs
  • Minced garlic
  • Ketchup and mustard
  • Salad dressings with olive oil or reduced-fat
  • Sparkling water

In the freezer

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Chopped onions, celery, and green, red, or yellow pepper
  • Breads: 100% whole grain breads, rolls, English muffins, bagels
  • Meats: Chicken, ground turkey breast, lean ground beef
  • Fish: Red snapper, salmon, cod, flounder, sole (or any other fish you eat regularly)

Whole grains vs. refined grains

A whole grain is made up of 3 parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ. Refined (or processed) grains are made from the endosperm. Because the bran and germ contain many of the vitamins and minerals and all of the fiber found in grains, whole grains have more fiber and nutrients than refined (or processed) grains, which makes them a better choice as part of a healthy eating pattern.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: October 18, 2021

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