Keeping a well-stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer helps make healthy meal planning quick and easy.  Imagine preparing healthy meals in as little time or less than it would take to run through a drive-through.  With careful planning, you can.

Not only will you be able to have quick and easy meals, you will be in better control of your food choices.  And healthier daily food choices along with regular exercise will help you maintain you weight, too.  Maintaining your weight is achieved through eating the same amount of calories that you burn daily.  Having the right foods available and eating appropriate portion sizes makes it easier to maintain your weight.

Key ingredients to keep in your pantry include:

Baking Soda   

Beans: Dried and Canned

Bread Crumbs   

Broths:  Beef, Chicken, Vegetable (preferably low-sodium and low-fat)

Canned Fish/Meats:  Tuna, Salmon, Chicken

Cereals - Less than 4 Grams Sugar Per Serving

Corn Starch

Crackers - Whole Grain and Less than 3 Grams Fat Per Serving

Dried herbs: garlic, basil, oregano, parsely, etc.

Dried spices:  cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc.

Flour - White and Whole Wheat                                                                                                          

Fruit - Juice or Water-Packed; Dried




Milk:  Evaporated Skim, Condensed and Powdered Nonfat

Mustard (Yellow, Dijon, Etc.)

Nuts and Seeds (sunflower and toasted sesame)

Oats: Steel-Cut and Old Fashioned

Oil: Olive, canola, sesame


Pasta: High Fiber

Peanut Butter and/or Other Nut Butters


Rice: Variety (Brown, White, Basmati, Etc.)

Salt and Pepper

Sauces: Hot, Reduced-Sodium Soy, Teriyaki, Worcestershire, Barbeque

Sugar:  Brown and Table

Snack Foods:  Sourdough Pretzels, Popcorn - air popped or low-fat

                        microwave, Baked Tortillas and Chips, Salsa

Soups: Low-fat and/or Low-sodium

Tomato Paste and Sauce


Vegetables:  Low-sodium or No Added Salt

Vinegars:  Balsamic, Cider, Rice, White and Flavored 




Butter or Margarine:  Low-Fat, Whipped, Trans Fat-Free and Those with Plant Sterols

Cheese:  Low-Fat, Shredded, Mozzarrella, Parmesan, Cream Cheese



Juice - 100% Fruit, Lemon and/or Lime


Mayonnaise - Low-Fat

Milk:  1% or Skim

Salad Dressings:  Low-Fat

Sour Cream:  Low-Fat

Vegetables - canned with no added salt

Yogurt - Plain, Nonfat, Vanilla, Low-Sugar



Bagels, Bread and Rolls

Chicken and Turkey

Cheese: Grated and Low-Fat


Frozen Yogurt, Low-Fat

Fruit:  No Added Sugar or Low Sugar

Juices - 100% Fruit

Meats:  Lean Cuts - Ground Round or Very Lean Beef,

              Round, Sirloin, Pork Tenderloin or Center-Cut


Meat Substitutes:  Vegetarian Alternatives




Remember, being prepared is the key.  If your kitchen is well-stocked you will always have the ingredients for a healthy meal.  Here are some simple meal planning ideas:

1. When you roast chicken, beef, or pork - freeze leftovers unless using later in the week.

2.  Write down a tentative menu for the week to see what ingredients you need to buy.

3.  Keep a shopping list on your refrigerator and when you use the last food item or the

     second to the last food item - add it to your list.

4.  Make double recipes and freeze half for another meal when you're too busy to cook.

5.  Remember to rotate your canned and frozen foods so you will use the oldest items first.

6.  Eat out of your freezer or pantry regularly so your food stays fresh.