Stock a Healthy Kitchen

a mom and her small son unload groceries from bags to their kitchen cabinets while dad prepares a salad

Eating healthy meals at home helps you cut down on fat, salt, and sugar and saves you money, too. According to Colleen Doyle, American Cancer Society’s managing director, Nutrition and Physical Activity, and a registered dietician, 33% of calories we consume come from restaurant food, and 43% of our total food budget is spent on eating out.

Our busy lives can make it hard to find the time to make quick, healthy, and delicious meals. Doyle recommends keeping easy-to-prepare ingredients on hand that can help you make smart eating choices even when time is short.

In the pantry


  • Oatmeal and other whole-grain cereals
  • Brown and long-grain rice
  • Whole-wheat spaghetti, fettuccini, penne, bowties
  • Bulgur, quinoa, couscous, orzo, cornmeal, whole-wheat bread, crackers, bread crumbs

Vegetables and fruits:

  • Onions, garlic, potatoes
  • Black, pinto, and kidney beans, chick peas, lentils
  • Canned tomatoes, including diced, whole, seasoned, sun-dried, sauce, paste
  • Canned vegetables, including green beans, mushrooms, mixed, and other favorites
  • Canned and dried fruits, including applesauce, cranberries, other favorites

In the refrigerator

  • Fresh vegetables, fruits, 100% vegetable and fruit juices
  • Nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt (low in added sugar), reduced-fat cheeses
  • Fresh poultry, seafood, tofu
  • Eggs
  • Whole-wheat and corn tortillas
  • Minced garlic
  • Sauces, including Worcestershire, soy, teriyaki, and chili
  • Ketchup and mustard
  • Vinegars, including cider, red and white wine, balsamic
  • Fresh herbs

In the freezer

  • Frozen vegetables, fruits, and 100% juices
  • Frozen chopped onion and chopped green pepper
  • Breads, including whole-grain breads, dinner rolls, English muffins, bagels
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Seafood, including red snapper, salmon, orange roughy, cod, flounder, sole, shrimp, scallops
  • Nuts and seeds (they freeze well, and last longer)

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.

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.

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