In today’s quick food environment, planning, chopping, and cooking healthy meals and snacks can be nearly impossible. Whether you are short on time on a regular basis or just need a quick meal in a pinch, below you will find a shopping list of healthy fresh, boxed, canned, and frozen products as well as sample meal ideas.

Shopping list
This shopping list is organized by sections in a typical grocery store. You may find that pre-portioned and packaged items/meals are more expensive. It is important to consider how much money your time is worth and if you have extra time to cook and portion all of these foods. If you do have time, then buying in bulk may be more cost effective for you. If you are short on time, then the items below may be the best way for you to choose and eat a wide variety of healthy foods.
Produce section

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables; choose quick hand fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, and pears as well as vegetables that can be eaten on the go such as baby carrots
  • Pre-sliced/diced fruits and vegetables
  • Microwave-wrapped sweet potatoes and russet potatoes
  • Hummus and guacamole single-serving packs

 Bread/grains/cereal/crackers aisle

  • 100% whole-grain breads, English muffins, bagels, and wraps; Triscuits and other whole-wheat cracker varieties
  • Multigrain tortilla chips
  • Rice cups
  • Cheerios®, Chex™, raisin bran cereals; choose unsweetened cereal options if possible
  • Oatmeal cups and packs; choose original/unsweetened if possible

 Canned goods and the middle aisles

  • Low-sodium canned vegetables
  • Canned fruits in natural juice or water
  • Applesauce and fruit cups; make sure to choose “unsweetened”
  • Amy’s chilis
  • Soups; choose low sodium, broth-based, and with lots of vegetables and lean meats
  • Silk® soymilk, individual serving boxes
  • Microwaveable brown rice and quinoa
  • Raisins; other plain dried fruit, individual serving boxes
  • Salsa
  • Canned beans (black, pinto, garbanzo, etc)
  • Canned lentils
  • Nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, soynuts, etc); can buy 100-calorie packs of various nuts
  • Nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, etc); can also buy single-serving peanut butter packs
  • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia, hemp, ground flax)
  • Dry roasted edamame
  • Granola bars such as LUNA®, KIND®, LARA® or other brands

 Dairy/refrigerated section

  • Single-serve yogurt
  • Single-serve cottage cheese
  • Light cheese sticks
  • Pre-diced cheese cubes
  • Already boiled hard boiled eggs
  • Nitrate/nitrite-free lean deli meat
  • Fully cooked chicken sausage
  • Fully cooked grilled chicken strips

 Frozen section

  • Kashi® frozen meals and pizzas
  • Amy’s frozen meals, pizzas, and burritos
  • Evol products
  • Food for Life® Ezekiel 4:9 breads
  • VitaTops®
  • Frozen waffles or pancakes
  • Birds Eye® Steamfresh® Protein Blends
  • Frozen vegetables and vegetable blends, steam in bag; try different varieties to easily mix up a meal; limit varieties with sweetened and cream-based sauces
  • Frozen fruit; make sure that fruit is the only ingredient
  • Veggie burgers from Morning Star Farms®, Boca®, Dr. Praeger’s™, Amy’s, etc
  • Frozen edamame
  • Already cooked grilled chicken strips

 Quick meal ideas


According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, a healthy meal consists of fruits/ vegetables,  protein and a side of whole grains. I like to advocate for calcium-rich foods (like dairy) either with or between the meal. Below are five quick meal examples using this concept.

  • Frozen Asian vegetable blend + microwave rice + veggie burger
  • Canned green beans + microwave sweet potato + frozen grilled chicken
  • Frozen Southwest vegetable blend + black bean chili can + multigrain tortilla chips (melted cheese for added calcium)
  • Carrots + pre-sliced fruit salad + whole grain bread +  turkey breast slices
  • Vanilla soy milk box + frozen berries + oatmeal packet + 2 – 4 tablespoon (Tbsp) nuts

Quick snack ideas
A healthy snack is a mini-meal and helps to stabilize blood sugars. It is comprised of a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Below are five quick snack examples:

  • 2-4 Tbsp raisins + 2 Tbsp dry roasted edamame + 2 Tbsp nuts
  • 6 Triscuits + 1-2 cheese sticks
  • 1 -2 slices wheat bread +  1/4 -1/2  of a mashed up avocado
  • Apple + cottage cheese + 1 Tbsp nut butter
  • Greek yogurt + 2 Tbsp chia or Flax seeds

Courtesy of Nutrition 411