Preparing meals at home can be healthier than dining out because you have more control over the foods you eat. Here are some helpful tips for grocery shopping and preparing your food:
Fruits and Vegetables
- Buy and eat plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.
- Choose canned fruits and vegetables in water without added salt.
- Choose canned fruits in water, fruit juice, or light syrup but not in heavy syrup.
- Choose more fruits and vegetables that are good sources of fiber, for example, oranges, strawberries, and cabbages.
- Limit fruit juices because they do not have as much fiber as whole fruits, and they are often higher in sugar and calories. Drink fruit juices in small amounts and choose 100% fruit juice.
Meat, Fish and Poultry
- Eat fish twice a week, especially fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and herring.
- For beef, choose choice or select grades instead of prime grade.
- Choose loin and round red meat and pork cuts, because they usually have less fat.
- For poultry, choose light meat (breast) without skin rather than dark meat (legs and thighs), because light meat usually has less fat.
- Trim all visible fats off the meat before cooking.
- Limit consumption of egg yolks to 3 – 4 yolks per week. Use egg whites or egg substitutes in place of egg yolks.
Milk and Dairy Products
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products instead of whole milk products.
- Limit the consumption of flavored milk such as vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry, because they are usually sweetened with added sugar and have higher calories.
- Limit the amount of butter, cream, and ice cream.
- Choose frozen yogurt, sherbet, or fresh fruits in place of ice cream.
Breads and Baked Goods
- Choose breads that are whole grain and high in fiber. Breads containing whole wheat, oats, whole rye, and buckwheat are some good examples of high fiber breads.
- Read the ingredient list on the packages. Choose products with the word “whole” as the first ingredients on the ingredient list.
- Limit the amount of baked goods, for example, pies, cakes, cookies, and doughnuts.
- Shop for fat-free, low-fat, and low-sodium versions of crackers, cookies, and cakes as snack items.
Fats and Oils
- For salad dressings, choose reduced-fat, low-fat, light, or fat-free versions instead of original versions.
- Use liquid vegetable oils or non-fat cooking sprays instead of butter when possible.
- Choose oils that are lower in saturated fats but higher in unsaturated fats, for example, canola oil, olive oil, and peanut oil.
- Limit palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil.
- Grill, broil, steam, poach, or stir-fry foods with small amount of oil instead of deep frying foods.
- Watch out for partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list; avoid the product if it is stated as one of the first 3 items in the list.
- Choose low or reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added foods and condiments when available.
- Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned, smoked, or processed meats.
- Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt.
- Cut back on frozen dinners, mixed dishes such as pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups, broths, and salad dressings.
- Use dried or fresh herbs instead of salt.
- Rinse canned foods, such as tuna and canned beans to remove some of the sodium.
- Choose frozen dinners that contain less than 700 mg of sodium per serving. For example, Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Kashi, and Smart Ones. Pair with low sodium foods such as fresh or frozen vegetables, fruits, yogurt, and milk in your meal.
- Shop around the outer perimeters of the grocery store, because the inner perimeter is usually processed foods.
Examples of Salt Substitutes
- Mrs. Dash — 0 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- Morton's Salt Substitute — 0 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- Seasoned No Salt — 0 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- Nu-Salt — 0 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- Pleasoning (Salt Free) — 0 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- Pleasoning (Herbal) — 0 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- No Salt — 1 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- Pleasoning (Tasty 2) — 45 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- Pleasoning (All Purpose) — 130 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- Morton's Lite Salt — 285 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon
- Morton's Seasoning Blend — 325 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon