Eating a healthy diet starts with a healthy and well-balanced shopping list. With wholesome foods stocked in your refrigerator and pantry, you’ll be well equipped to maintain a plant-based diet. Here are a few foods to focus on when creating a healthy shopping list:
1. Whole Grains
“Whole grain” refers to the three parts of the grain kernel being intact. Refined grains are grains that have been stripped of one or more parts of the grain and therefore are less nutrient-dense. Each part of the grain kernel is packed with nutrients and minerals that carry many health benefits. Whole grains are high in fiber, iron, magnesium, antioxidants, B vitamins and other minerals and help lower cholesterol, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, improve digestive health, and reduce inflammation (Harvard T.H. Chan, Whole Grains).
When shopping for whole grains at the grocery store, make sure the first ingredient listed is a whole grain (i.e. whole wheat, oats, whole corn, brown rice, etc.)
Some whole grain foods to add to your shopping list:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole wheat bread
- Oats, rolled, steel-cut
- Wild rice
2. Seasonal Produce
It can be difficult to know which fruits and vegetables are in season or out of season. Many fruits and vegetables are available year-round at the grocery store. However, fruits and vegetables that are in-season not only taste better, but they also contain more nutrients when picked at their peak ripeness.
Check out the Seasonal Food Guide, a great guide for determining what produce is in season in your specific state.
Produce that can be purchased directly from a local grower or farmer is a good way to tell if it is in season. Local farmers markets are a great way to shop for seasonal produce and support local growers. Check out the National Farmers Market Directory to find a farmers market near you.
3. Pantry Staples
Stocking your pantry with nutritious staples that can easily be added to meals or grabbed as quick snacks is a great way to maintain a healthy diet. Here are a few food items to keep in your pantry:
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains (see list above)
- Legumes — An easy replacement for meat in any dish
-Lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans - Did you know 1 cup of cooked lentils is equal to 18g of protein (Harvard Health Publishing)?!
- Canned tomatoes
4. Non-Dairy Milk
Dairy is not essential for a healthy diet. Almond. Cashew. Oat. Macadamia. Soy. There are plenty of alternative milk options to keep on hand. Most grocery stores offer a plethora of plant milks. Alternative milks can easily substitute cow milk in any recipe.
When creating a healthy shopping list, it’s most important to focus on foods with wholesome ingredients. Whole foods will provide you with a nutrient-rich diet to support a healthy lifestyle and provide you with substantial health benefits.