A Nutritionist’s Grocery List
| Posted On Jan 21, 2015 | By: Linda Germaine-Miller, RD
When I meet with my patients in a nutrition counseling session, they often ask me, “So, what do YOU eat?” I tell them about my favorite grocery items, the staples that I purchase week in and week out to use as the base of many of my meals, and they are amazed that eating healthy foods can be so simple.
I thought it would be helpful to expand my list with the help of my nutrition colleagues at Harvard Vanguard, all of whom are registered dietitians, to compile a comprehensive, weekly grocery list to share.
So thanks to all of their contributions and suggestions, here is our combined shopping list, including several helpful tips and simple meal ideas, too!
- Great “staples” are: mixed salad greens, arugula, cherry tomatoes, large tomatoes for sandwiches, cucumbers, red or yellow peppers, carrots, spinach, cauliflower, butternut squash, Brussel sprouts, eggplant, broccoli, purple cabbage, and celery
- Bagged and pre-washed romaine lettuce, chopped
- Kale, pre-washed in a box
- Frozen vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, edamame, mixed vegetables
- Frozen veggie “steamers”
- Box of Pomi® tomatoes, either chopped or strained (these are salt free and are a great addition to a sauce, soup or chili. Look for them in the canned vegetable aisle or in the “Italian” aisle with the canned tomatoes.)
- Buy at least 2 different vegetables which you plan to cook so that you will have a vegetable to serve at least 4 nights each week; you can serve salad on the other nights
- Make sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, fresh flat leaf parsley, cilantro or basil. Add a “sauce” such as Dijon mustard, spicy Sriracha sauce or pesto with leftover grated carrots, sliced cucumber, or dill
- Apples and bananas are good staples, then add any seasonal fruit that is on sale
- Plan on buying fruit in season such as apples and pears in winter, berries and melon in summer—plan for at least 2 servings of fruit per person in the household
- Greek Yogurt, plain or vanilla
- Nonfat or 1% milk or Almond milk (this is not as high in protein as cow’s milk but it is a good source of calcium)
- 1% reduced fat cottage cheese (Breakstone® makes individual serving sizes that are convenient for bringing to work for a snack)
- Milk Kefir (cultured differently than yogurt, it’s a great source of probiotic bacteria and yeast)
- If you need an “add-in,” consider 2 tsp of Pumpkin Butter or 1-2 TBS of unsalted nuts
- For dessert, try nonfat Greek yogurt flavors such as vanilla or fruit-flavored with added berries
- Fresh fish such as Haddock or Salmon
- Rotisserie chicken
- 93% fat free ground turkey
- Bell and Evans® frozen chicken breasts
- Cubed tofu
- Cottage cheese, reduced fat
- Carton of Just Whites® egg whites
- Hummus is an excellent plant protein, good for a quick lunch or dinner; it may also be used as a snack with raw veggies
- Rotisserie chicken comes in handy on a day when the kids have skating lessons right up to the dinner hour!
- Frozen chicken breasts are pre-cooked and just need to be thawed out. In the evening, place a chicken breast on a plate in the fridge; keep it in the refrigerator overnight and the next day it will be ready to be re-heated at dinner time
- Every week, try choosing a meat to cook that can also be used for sandwiches, such as a whole chicken, pork tenderloin, eye of the round roast, or London broil steak
LEGUMES AND GRAINS
- Beans— choose a variety, canned in BPA free cans – such as black, kidney, chick peas, pinto; these are useful for making soup, chili or salads
- Frozen edamame beans
- Barilla Plus® Wheat Pasta
- All Natural Peanut Butter – brands can range from Teddie®, Smucker’s® or the store brand – as long as the ONLY ingredient on the jar is peanuts
- Cereal – that has at least 4 grams of fiber and less than 8 grams of sugar per serving
- Kashi® Go Lean
- Kashi® Autumn Wheat cereal
- Oatmeal, such as Quaker® old-fashioned or Bob’s Red Mill®
- Trader Joe’s 1.4 ounce package of nuts
- Almonds or Walnuts (keep in the refrigerator to maintain freshness)
- For snacking, try some of the bars, like Lara Bars®, Luna® protein bars, or Kind® Bars
- Market Basket® 100% whole wheat bread (this is about 70 calories per slice; there are several varieties available so the carbohydrate and calories vary from one type to another) or the store brand of flax bread
- 100% whole wheat bread
- Food for Life bread (Ezekiel®)
- Whole grain tortilla wraps
- Joseph® wraps or pita
- Other whole grains such as frozen brown rice
- Read your bread label! No matter what it says on the front of the package, the first ingredient should be listed as “100% whole” as in 100% whole wheat flour
- Homemade salad dressing
- To make a healthy low salt salad dressing, mix ½ cup extra virgin olive oil with ¼ cup balsamic vinegar or lemon juice; add in one clove of garlic, minced, and ¼ tsp Dijon mustard; mix well. Keep this in an old jelly jar or container in your refrigerator and you will have a tasty salad dressing each evening
Most of our RDs bring lunch to work each day. Here are some of our typical lunches:
- Hummus with whole wheat pita and raw veggies
- Peanut butter on 100% whole wheat bread
- A sandwich with leftover sliced chicken on 100% whole wheat bread, with lettuce, tomato and pesto
- Bean salad
- If you have leftover pasta or couscous from dinner, mix 1 cup of pasta or couscous with 2 TBS oil and vinegar dressing, 2-3 slices of cooked, chopped, leftover chicken or fish or seafood and serve over a green salad; add 3-4 whole wheat crackers to this, like Ak-mak® or Wasa® brands, for a delicious and healthy lunch or light dinner meal
- Take sodium- free canned beans, such as chickpeas, kidney, or pinto, and mix them with homemade oil and vinegar dressing. See the helpful tip under “Miscellaneous” grocery list section for the recipe. You may add in any herbs you like such as thyme, parsley, basil and so on. Serve this with a whole wheat roll and fruit for dessert.
- Drain 12 ounces (2, six-ounce cans) of canned salmon. This would make a healthy lunch to carry you through 3-4 days at work. Serve atop fresh spinach with a vinaigrette dressing.
QUICK RECIPES FOR DINNER
- Open-face burrito
- Spread one wheat tortilla with 2-3 TBS of mashed avocado or guacamole; top with ½ cup of mashed black beans, ½ cup of leftover raw veggies (such as red pepper, scallions, mushrooms, spinach leaves) and 2 TBS grated cheese
- Place on a cookie sheet and heat in the oven at 375 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese melts
- You can vary this by using pesto or hummus in place of the guacamole and by using cooked sautéed spinach in place of the raw veggies
- Creamy Beans, Rice and Greens
- Ingredients – 3/4 cup bagged frozen brown rice, 1 cup frozen Vegetable Steamers (such as spinach or broccoli or any other greens you have on hand), ¼ cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese, 2 TBS 0% Fage® Plain Greek yogurt, ¼ cup salsa, ½ cup no salt added black beans
- Directions: Microwave packages of brown rice and vegetables according to directions. Portion out above amount of rice and vegetables onto a dinner plate (Save the remainder of the rice and vegetables for leftovers.) Add cheese, yogurt, salsa and beans and mix until well combined. You can put this back into the microwave for a few seconds (20-30) if the cheese is not completely melted.
- Vegetable Scramble
- Ingredients—1 tsp olive oil, 1 cup frozen pepper and onions (microwaved according to package directions), ½ cup egg substitute such as egg beaters or all whites, 1 TBS grated parmesan cheese, ¼ cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese, (optional: a few tablespoons of chopped mint or parsley or salsa will give this more flavor)
- Directions: Heat the oil in the skillet. Add pepper and onion and sauté for about one minute. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine egg substitute, cheeses and herbs and beat with a fork until the eggs get a bit frothy, about one minute. Pour this into the skillet and scramble until cooked. Serve with 2 slices of whole wheat toast or wheat pita.
- Simple Baked Haddock
- Place ½ to ¾ lbs fresh haddock on a backing pan sprayed with PAM or other non-stick cooking spray. Squeeze the juice of ½ fresh lemon on the haddock and sprinkle with fresh oregano and fresh pepper. Use an olive oil “mister” to spray the fish with a small amount of oil. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Serves 2 for dinner and lunch tomorrow.
- Serving suggestion – serve with steamed asparagus, quinoa, and green salad
- Simple Baked Salmon
- Broil it with freshly ground black pepper (I usually do this on Sunday so we have dinner for Sunday evening and then another dinner on Monday or a few lunches.)
- American Chopped Suey
- Use Barilla Plus® elbow pasta, Pomi® chopped tomatoes and ground turkey. Sauté a chopped onion with 1 chopped red pepper and one chopped green pepper. Add the ground turkey and sauté until it is cooked through. Then add in the Pomi tomatoes. Meanwhile, cook about ½ box of the pasta according to the package directions and strain it well. Serve the Turkey mixture over the pasta.
- Quick Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry
- Ingredients: 1 pkg cubed tofu, drained and patted dry with a paper towel (this is pre-cut tofu that is ready to use), 1 pkg Asian stir fry type frozen vegetables, 2 TBS Lite Sodium Soy Sauce, 2 tsp organic canola oil, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- Directions: Heat vegetable oil in skillet, add tofu. Stir fry until tofu is golden brown. Remove tofu from skillet. Stir-fry frozen veggies according to package directions. Meanwhile, mix soy sauce and toasted sesame oil in a small dish. Once the vegetables are cooked, add back in tofu and soy sauce mixture to skillet and mix together for about a minute until well coated. This may be served over brown rice, quinoa, or another whole grain of choice.