Are you one of those people that peeps into other people’s carts to get ideas or pass judgment? We are too. It’s only natural to wonder how everyone else survives and what they’re buying other than wine and cookies.
We asked registered dietitian Kathleen Mason, MS, RD, LDN, CSSD, at FirstHealth’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center what goes into her cart. She also rounded up tips from her colleagues to put together a haul packed with nutrition and meal ideas.
“Eighty perfect of the foods we consume need to be whole, real, mostly single-ingredient, minimally processed foods that will support optimal health,” she says. “The other 20 percent is just for fun.”
Every week, all kinds, types and colors of fresh fruits and vegetables should make their way home with you, from Avocados to Zoodles. Get a variety of ones that are already cut/prepped and whole. Pro tip: Aldi has great prices on fresh products, even organic. Get fruits and vegetables you like to eat, but here are a few ideas from the team.
- Spagetti squash and zoodles (from zucchini, beets, etc) are a great replacement for pasta.
- Slice these veggies in coins, broil or grill topped with Parmesan cheese for an easy side.
- Tomatoes are very high in lycopene and help protect summer skin. Cherry and grape tomatoes are a staple snack for the pool.
- Baked potato topped with plain Greek yogurt and some steamed veggies on the side is a very satisfying lunch or dinner.
- Sweet potatoes topped with vanilla yogurt and nuts to satisfy your sweet tooth or black beans and salsa when you’re craving savory.
- Broccoli slaw – Sauté with apple cider vinegar, garlic and cayenne pepper mixed with fresh ground turkey, simmer until done.
- When they start to turn soft, put them in the fridge. The outsides turn brownish, but the fruit inside is still white and delicious.
- If they don’t get eaten soon enough, remove the peel and freeze them.
- Sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil – puree them with evaporated skim milk which makes a great sauce to add flavor.
- Canned Vegetables
- Drained and rinsed or bought with no added salt are much better than not eating vegetables at all.
- Mix canned vegetables together like a salad bar. Just drain them all well and rinse if possible: beets, green beans, three bean salad and artichoke hearts, mushrooms, corn blends, etc. and beans/lentils of all kinds.
- Beans and Lentils
- Perhaps the most under rated food on the shelf! Canned or dry. They are high in anti-oxidants, loaded with fiber and packed with protein and cheap. They are the ideal solution towards eating a more plant-based diet.
- Canned Tomato Products
- Use these for homemade soups, sauces, stews and chilis.
- Smuckers All Natural Peanut Butter
- Nuts, Seeds, Dried Fruits
- Toss them into oatmeal, yogurts and salads with fruit.
- Nuts in the shell will help prevent overindulging.
- Note: Avoid craisins: they’re are too high in added sugar
- Whole Oats
- Higher in soluble fiber, a better whole grain alternative to brown/white rice)
- Sara Lee 45 Calorie Whole Grain Bread
- Or: Pepperidge Farms Rye/Pumpernickel, whole wheat Pita bread, low carb tortillas
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Pam Olive Oil
- Organic Microwave Popcorn
- Tuna Pouches
- Plain, low sodium – Kills the cravings for processed carbs and the Omega-3’s help under stress.
- Whole/ground flax, hemp & chia seeds
- Throw in smoothies for a good source of plant-based Omega-3’s and fiber and some protein.
- Coffee, Matcha Green Tea or Chicory Dandelion Tea
- Fairlife milk
- String Cheeses
- Light feta or goat cheese (for salads)
- Cottage cheese, Good Culture has probiotics and thicker texture
- Greek yogurt
- Oikos Greek Triple Zero is sweetened with Stevia, very low in sugar and high in protein.
- Land O’ Lakes whipped butter
- Half and Half
- Silk unsweetened almond milk (great source of calcium for non-dairy people)
- Ricotta cheese (low fat)
- For stuffed baked spaghetti squash with Lucini Tuscan Marinara
- Parmesan cheese, fresh or packaged
Choose a few for meals throughout the week.
“One whole chicken breast, 2 pork loin chops, ground beef 85/15, hot Italian sausage for pasta dish once/month and maybe a steak on Sunday” makes up one Dietitian’s weekly meat list.
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and tenderloins.
- Fresh market has boneless, skinless breasts on sale every Tuesday
- Ground turkey, extra lean
- Ground chicken
- For tacos, meatloaf, meatballs, stuffed peppers
- Honeysuckle turkey breast
- Remove the skin and cook in the crockpot
- Lean pork loin
- Trimmed of all the fat with low sugar BBQ sauce and cooked in the crock pot, it comes out like pulled pork. Put it in a low carb/high fiber tortilla (Extreme Wellness), in a salad, or as a burrito/enchilada-type casserole
- Shrimp or scallops
- For a quick meal, add pesto or cocktail sauce.
- Canned crab (to make crab cakes)
- Firm tofu
- Edamame (frozen or dried/roasted like peanuts)
- Chick peas (dried/roasted)
- For veggie omelets, muffin-tin frittatas, hard boiled for salads or deviled eggs
Frozen foods make like a little easier, but steer clear of the pizzas and head on over for some fruits and veggies.
- Berries and berry blends
- Throw these in yogurts, cottage cheese, smoothies, oatmeal, etc.
- Berries are extremely high in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants protect our cells from breaking down and mutating which leads to aging and disease.Berries and berry blends of all kinds
- Steamer bags of frozen vegetables
- Pair with a small amount of lean protein for a healthy, filling, low calorie lunch combo. Add some fruits and/or nuts on the side and eat it all guilt-free.
- Or eat them for breakfast. Add frozen spinach or kale or chopped green peppers and onions, or even frozen chunks of butternut squash egg/egg white omelets. For a twist add broccoli florets or green beans to scrambled eggs and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. A breakfast of scrambled egg/egg whites, black beans, salsa and avocado is a powerhouse of color and nutrients. (No bread or muffins needed.)
- Fun fact: Fruits and vegetables that are the same color all the way through are highest in anti-oxidants.
The Other 20%
- Chocolate, especially dark
- Seltzer water
- Sugar-free tropical popsicles
- Single-serving bags of potato chips
- Snack size peanut M&M’s
- Unsweet teas
- Nature’s Path Organic Flax cereal
- Halo Top ice cream
- Just Ranch dressing or Light Ranch dressing
- Dark beer
- Applegate chicken tenders
What We Don’t Buy
The most important part of this whole haul are the things you’ll never find in these dietitian’s carts.
- Processed meats of any kind. That includes deli meats, packaged and cut, hot dogs, nuggets, fish sticks, bacon, sausage, turkey substitutes, vegetarian/vegan products, corn dogs, etc.
- Sodas, any drinks with added sugars
- Kid’s yogurts
- Flavored creamers
- Snack foods: cakes, cookies, pop tarts, donuts, chips, candy
- Granola bars, cereal bars, breakfast bars, protein bars – no “bars” of any kind
- Canned soups
- White rice
- Ice cream desserts
- Microwave meals
- Processed one-bag meals
- Frozen pizzas and meals
- Processed potatoes
- Packaged rices and pastas, noodles/cups
- Fatty red meats
- Processed oatmeals