Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen: Cupboard Basics

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Keeping your pantry stocked with healthy foods is the first step toward building solid eating habits.

Having plenty of healthy foods on hand is a great way to build a foundation for good eating habits that may last a lifetime. Do a pantry makeover and fill your kitchen with ingredients that may help the whole family develop healthy eating behaviors. Welcome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy, seafood, lean meats and poultry to your kitchen and pantry. Experts recommend including these food groups in everyday diet.

Here are some tips on how to stock your kitchen to help you get into a healthy eating routine.

Have fruit on hand in a variety of forms: fresh, frozen, canned, juice and dried. For example:

  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Melons
  • Raisins
  • Orange juice
  • Apple juice

Check that the canned and frozen fruits and juices do not have added sugar.

Color and variety is key when it comes to vegetables. Variety will not only add different flavors, but also various nutrients. Try to stock vegetables in different forms such as fresh, frozen and canned. Make sure to buy frozen and canned vegetables without added salt or sugar. Here is a selection of veggies to try:

  • Dark-green vegetables — spinach, broccoli, mustard greens and romaine lettuce
  • Beans and peas — lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and pinto beans
  • Red and orange vegetables — red peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and winter squash
  • Starchy vegetables — corn and green peas
  • Others — green beans and onions

Whole Grains
Read food labels and keep an eye out for whole grains such as:

  • Whole-grain cereals and crackers
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa

Choose products that are fat-free or low-fat.

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese, such as low-fat mozzarella
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk
  • Fortified soy beverages

Meat and poultry should be lean and low fat. Protein foods also include seafood (try salmon or anchovies), eggs and unsalted nuts and seeds. Beans and peas also have protein and can be included in your diet as either a veggie or a protein — but not both.

When cooking, replace butter with healthier oil, such as olive oil. You can also cook with low-sodium chicken broth. Use oil and vinegar to make a healthy salad dressing.

Once your kitchen is stocked with the basics, you can focus on healthy eating!

SOURCES: • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Accessed: 09/09/2013 Copyright © 2014 myOptumHealth.

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