Stock your pantry with these foods and you’ll have everything you need for mealtime success right at your fingertips.
- Canned garbanzo, black, pinto, kidney, and cannellini beans: Like soup, these can contain loads of sodium. Go for no-salt-added beans when possible.
- Low-sodium canned soup, chicken, and vegetable broth: Standard versions can be sodium bombs. Reach for reduced-sodium varieties.
- Marinara sauce, canned plum tomatoes, and tomato juice: Tomato products can pack a surprising amount of sodium. Compare brands by looking at the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient lists.
- Red lentils: The ultimate fast food, these little legumes cook in just 15 minutes.
- Peanut, almond, and sunflower butter: Seek out varieties that are free of added sugar, hydrogenated oils, and palm oil.
- Canned salmon, tuna, sardines, and anchovies: Loaded with beneficial omega-3 fats, canned fish is one of the most underrated healthy foods. Choose water-packed versions when possible.
- Dried fruit: Divide into ¼-cup servings and store in snack-size plastic bags for portion-controlled nibbling on-the-go.
- Nuts (all kinds!): Store nuts in a tightly closed jar or container, as their delicate fats tend to spoil quickly. After a couple of months, transfer them to the fridge where they’ll stay fresh for up to a year.
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds: A protein-packed alternative to nuts. Store them the same way you would nuts.
- Popcorn kernels: Popcorn is a whole grain! Air pop it and you can munch on 3 full cups for less than 100 calories.
- Whole-grain crackers: Seek out brands with at least 3 grams of fiber and less than 150 calories per serving.
- Whole-wheat and white flour
- Whole-grain cereal: Look for lightly sweetened brands with a minimum of 5 g of filling fiber and no more than 8 g of sugar per serving.
- Old-fashioned oats: Sure, these cholesterol-lowering grains are great for breakfast. They’re also a smart swap for breadcrumbs in meatloaf, meatballs, and salmon cakes
- Quinoa, brown rice, barley, and bulgur: People who regularly eat whole grains tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Whip these up as a side dish or sprinkle them into salads and soup.
- Polenta: Top this quick-cooking whole grain with marinara sauce for a speedy weeknight meal.
- Whole-wheat and semolina pasta: Whole-wheat pasta is best, but regular semolina pasta is no slouch either. Each 2-ounce serving offers up 2 g of fiber and 7 g of protein. Plus, it’s enriched with iron and folate, which may help you feel less tired.
- Whole-wheat bread: Look for brands with fewer than 100 calories per slice.
- Panko: These crunchy Japanese breadcrumbs sport nearly one-third the calories of the traditional kind.
Condiments and cooking oils
- Salsa: It’s a no-brainer for dialing up flavor in eggs, tacos, chicken and fish—and it has only 5 calories per tablespoon and 0 PersonalPoints™.
- Hot sauce and sriracha
- Tahini: Try it as a dip for raw veggies or whisk it with lemon juice for a healthier spin on salad dressing.
- Canola and olive oils: These heart-friendly oils deliver beneficial monounsaturated and omega-3 fats.
- Mayonnaise: Look for brands made with canola oil for an omega-3 fatty acid boost.
- Red wine, white, balsamic, apple cider, and rice wine vinegars: Worth 0 PersonalPoints, these pantry staples can be used to flavor a salad or zoodles.
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce
- Dijon and yellow mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Sparkling water
- Black, green, and herbal tea
Spices and sweeteners
- Kosher salt: Thanks to its big, fluffy flakes, kosher salt delivers nearly 20 percent less sodium than table salt.
- Chili powder, curry powder, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, dried basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary: These add a calorie-free kick to your favorite foods.
- Sesame seeds: 2 tablespoons give you as much calcium as half a cup of milk. Sprinkle them over cucumber salad or Asian noodles.
- Sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and honey: Use these sparingly to sweeten hot cereal, plain yogurt, and whole-grain muffins.
When Cravings Hit
- Crackers that don’t list whole grains as the first ingredient
- Flavored instant oatmeal and cereals with more than 8 g sugar per serving
- Boxed macaroni and cheese
- Chips and pretzels
- Granola and granola bars
- Trail mix
- Coconut oil
- Sugar-sweetened soda, iced tea, energy drinks, and sports drinks
- Coffee creamer