Shopping List: Basic Ingredients for a Healthy Kitchen

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

In the cupboard

  • Beans: Black, pinto, kidney, chickpeas, lentils, refried
  • Rice: Brown, long-grain rice mixes
  • Pasta: Whole wheat spaghetti, fettuccini, penne, bowtie, ramen noodles
  • Other grains: Couscous, orzo, cornmeal, whole wheat crackers, breadsticks, bread crumbs
  • Onions
  • Canned tomatoes: Diced, whole, seasoned, sun-dried, sauce, salsa
  • Canned vegetables: Mixed vegetables, green beans, mushrooms
  • Canned and dried fruits: Applesauce (unsweetened), raisins, dates
  • Sauces: Pasta, pizza, tomato - look for varieties that contain no or very little added sugar
  • 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
  • Meats: Canned tuna, salmon, minced clams
  • Peanut butter
  • Low-fat or no-fat evaporated milk
  • Vinegars: Cider, red and white wine, balsamic
  • Your favorite herbs and spices
  • Oils: Olive, canola, 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
  • Sauces: Worcestershire, soy, teriyaki, and chili
  • Ketchup and mustard (spicy and Dijon)
  • Salad dressings with olive oil or reduced-fat
  • Sparkling water

In the freezer

  • Frozen vegetables and fruits
  • Frozen chopped onions and chopped green, red, or yellow pepper
  • Breads: 100% whole grain breads, dinner rolls, English muffins, bagels
  • Meats: Chicken breast, ground turkey breast
  • Fish: Red snapper, salmon, cod, flounder, sole

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: June 9, 2020

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