Stock a Healthy Kitchen

Young Couple Shopping for Food

Our busy, modern, 21st century lives can make it hard to find the time to make quick, healthy, and delicious meals. But with a little planning, you can keep easy-to-prepare ingredients on hand that will help you make smart eating choices even when time is short.

So what foods should you keep in the pantry? Try protein-rich, low-fat beans, either dried (preparation required) or canned. Other proteins include peanut butter and canned or bagged tuna, salmon, and chicken. You’ll want grains as well, including brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, couscous, cornmeal, whole-wheat crackers, and ramen noodles.

Stock up on low-sodium, sauce-free canned vegetables, including tomatoes, mixed veggies, green beans and peas. Nuts and dried fruit such as raisins and dried cranberries add a quick flavor punch to salads and other meals. Another easy way to add fruit to a meal is with no-sugar-added applesauce and packed-in-water fruits. Keep a variety of vinegars, herbs, spices, and healthy oils like olive or canola on-hand for flavor.

In the freezer, store nutritious frozen vegetables (watch the sauces), pre-chopped onions and peppers, bread and bagels, chicken breasts, ground turkey breast (not just ground turkey), and a variety of seafood. The meats can be thawed the day before in the refrigerator or in the microwave for quick use.

The fridge is the biggest challenge, because some foods stored there can go bad quickly. One tip is to take 10 minutes to plan your meals before you go grocery shopping so you have all the food you need for that week and don’t waste extras you aren’t using.

At the market, choose:

  • vegetables and fruits
  • 100% vegetable and fruit juices
  • reduced-fat dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheeses
  • whole-grain breads, cereals, and tortillas
  • eggs
  • lean cuts of meat if you are buying meat
  • salad dressings made with olive oil or reduced fat

Now that you’ve stocked your kitchen, it’s time to start cooking. Get some healthy recipes from the American Cancer Society that are sure to please your whole family.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.


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