Grocery Shopping for Healthy Cooking at Home


By: , – Monique Volz, Food Network’s Healthy Eats
  :  29 comments   :  17,642 Views

Between work, exercise and a busy social life, sometimes I find it difficult to prepare myself meals during the week. It’s time consuming and after a long day in meetings the last thing I want to do is cook a meal for myself. It’s usually easier to heat up a frozen meal or to stop and grab a sandwich on my way home. So what’s the problem with this?

Well I’m spending money that could be saved and I’m also not 100% sure of what additives or hidden calories are in my food. Okay and I’ll admit: I’m a firm believer that cooking at home is a creative energy that should be explored by all. 

In an effort to stay on track with this past week’s cooking at home theme, I referenced my bank account spending. I was surprised to find that I was spending about $50 per week eating out, grabbing coffee, and quick snacks; that’s about $200 per month that could be saved. (Helloooo end of the month shopping spree!) I decided to make it my mission to prepare my own meals to save time and money; plus I know that my body generally feels better when I’m eating whole foods that I’ve prepared myself. Last Sunday I made a list of my favorite healthy staples that would enable me to make effortless quick meals during the week.

Here’s a peek of what was on my list:
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole-wheat tortillas or pitas
  • Quinoa
  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Chicken breast
  • Lean ground turkey
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Black beans
  • Low-fat feta cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Roasted almonds
  • Almond or coconut milk
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Pineapple (fresh or frozen)
  • Condiments (BBQ sauce, salsa, hot sauce, honey mustard, balsamic vinegar)
  • Nut butter (almond, peanut, or cashew)
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What staples do you have in your home for healthy cooking?

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  • 29
    If my pantry doesn't have the following staples, its off to the grocery store for me: unsweetened coconut, coconut flour, coconut oil, almond flour, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and multiple types of nuts. Someone wrote that it is more expensive but isn't worth it; however, yes it is more expensive for good food now but it will be less expensive than the huge health bill's later. - 2/16/2014   12:13:30 AM
  • 28
    It's great to have things on hand so you don't have to go out. And you can get so creative putting together a meal. Right now we're eating through our freezer since it's hurricane season. A lot of good meals in store. - 6/25/2012   10:40:32 AM
  • 27
    This is EXACTLY what I do ... I almost always have the staples necessary to eat healthy. I'm also VERY lucky in that I have to drive by Trader Joe's to and from work every day, so it's easy to run in if I'm out of a necessity (I seem to run out of bananas a lot)!!! - 6/20/2012   12:57:56 PM
  • 26
    My staples are fresh fruit & veggies, chicken breasts, pre-portioned steak cuts (once in a while), eggs, almond milk, and rice / gluten-free pasta! - 6/17/2012   10:24:48 AM
  • 25
    Great list! I copied it into a word document and now I can add my own items as I go. I hope you don't mind me doing that, it is such a great list to start with. Thanks for posting it :) - 6/16/2012   2:30:47 PM
  • 24
    As a low carber, I'd drop all those grains, starchy potatoes, and beans from your list. I substitute flax meal and bake a lot of bread-type-thingies with it. I add green beans, kale, collards, and jicama, and cauliflower as veggies (this is the food type with the most variety!). Another essential for me is meat -- and I like variety! So I add to your list bacon! Scallops and crab! Pork loin and flat iron steak! Lots of trout, mackerel, and salmon.
    I have two favorite condiments: green chile and homemade spaghetti sauce. However, lots of dairy also gets used : heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese, and any cheese in fact.
    And I snack on whole, raw or toasted almonds.

    Oh, and yes, I did have my bloodwork done very thoroughly before and after doing the Atkins Diet, and I am happy to report that all markers have improved. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to make ice cream go away and I am set for life! - 6/16/2012   9:39:40 AM
  • GRISI1107
    Eggs, beans, brocolli, tomatoes, avocados spinach apples oranges watermelon, oatmeal, yogurt, wheat bread, lean meats, pasta, rice.... - 6/16/2012   12:59:56 AM
  • 22
    You can find, lean meats, vegetables, salad fare, yogurt, fruit and berries. We also have eggs, oatmeal. We eat gluten free. We have no junk food, at all. - 6/15/2012   2:41:43 PM
  • 21
    Glad to see eggs on your list! I try to make it a point to always have some hard boiled ones on hand for a quick egg salad sandwich or just to add to a tossed salad. - 6/15/2012   1:37:23 PM
  • 20
    Great list! Will need to add some of these items to my pantry. - 6/15/2012   12:35:57 PM
  • 19
    My pantry always has these items. I also keep frozen veggies for those days when the fresh on gone. You can always prepare a quick meal even if it is just a pasta with stir fried veggies. We eat very few frozen dinners. - 6/15/2012   9:48:14 AM
  • 18
    How much money was saved buying the items on the list? I found that home cooking cost more than purchasing packaged foods. We actually spend $100 a month MORE purchasing fresh vegetables and fruits and whole grains. I try to convince myself that it's worth it, but it's really not. - 6/14/2012   1:53:25 PM
  • 17
    Brown Rice and Whole Wheat Pasta completes the list! - 6/14/2012   1:43:01 PM
  • GENIE1901
    thanks much for this list, when thinking healthy i just assume if it's a fruit , veg or fish it is healthy - 6/14/2012   12:38:02 PM
    What a fantastically fabulous list this is! Thank you! - 6/14/2012   8:41:58 AM
  • 14
    Add fish (salmon, tuna, etc.) and kale to the list... - 6/14/2012   8:04:32 AM
  • 13
    Amen - cook from scratch, be well. - 6/14/2012   7:34:15 AM
  • 12
    I always say i would like to take a peek at a healty person's shopping list. I am a pretty healthy eater but i have NO imagination when it comes to cooking but taking a look at that list i see a bunch of salads and wraps plus if i just add some brown rice or other healthy grain i have a great meal! - 6/14/2012   4:24:36 AM
  • 11
    I live with people who enjoy a lot of pasta. I have tried to encourage them to eat whole grain pasta, but they say they don't like the taste. I guess I need to buy whole grain for me and cook mine separately. I also like beans and they don't. I will have to just start cooking my meals separately and theirs their way. - 6/14/2012   3:43:35 AM
  • 10
    I hate to cook after raising five children and dealing with a critical husband, so I keep it as simple as possible. Crockpot meals are my favorite. - 6/14/2012   12:10:43 AM
  • 9
    My master shopping list came from going over my food log and seeing what I ate on days when I met my calorie and sodium limits. I eat a lot of turkey burger! - 6/14/2012   12:00:28 AM
  • 8
    What are some of the recipes used from this grocery list??
    - 6/13/2012   10:30:21 PM
  • 7
    Frozen mesquite-grilled chicken breasts to heat in microwave and serve on top of salad.

    Also, salmon fillets to portion and freeze for quick-thaw and pan-grilling. - 6/13/2012   10:12:51 PM
  • 6
    I almost never have time on a regular workday to come home & fix something for supper, so I normally do batch cooking on the weekends, or on Wednesday, my work-from-home day.

    My housemate & I keep a lot of the above on hand, but instead of something like ground turkey we have an array of dried beans & lentils. Except for red lentils they can't be fixed on the fly, but getting them soaked & boiled is easy to do while accomplishing other things; we often freeze part of a batch for later.

    Other staples for us are canned tuna, fat-free sour cream, fruits that are in season (oranges & pears & apples in winter; April-May are great for mangos; the choices are amazing in summer), brown rice, & a loaf of 100% whole-grain bread. - 6/13/2012   10:09:33 PM
  • 5
    What's the photo of? - 6/13/2012   9:34:38 PM
  • 4
    I TRY to limit processed and snack foods. I like to get lots of vegetables and fruit and lean meat and chicken / fish . - 6/13/2012   9:06:31 PM
  • 3
    Thanks for this list! I try to buy healthy, but I never know really what to buy. I can make a grocery list based on what I would like to try making, but most of the time I run out of food stamps. This will make an excellent staples list to be sure I have on hand and then add to extra stuff! - 6/13/2012   8:34:56 PM
    I'm happy to say that you can find each and every one of the things on this list in my fridge, cabinets, or pantry right now! Love the convenience of making it all right here at home and taking it with me. - 6/13/2012   8:31:45 PM
    It is empowering to see how simple changes, eating at home frees up resources for other things. - 6/13/2012   8:25:12 PM

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