The Healthy Kitchen: 35 Best Foods to Stock in Your Fridge and Pantry

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In the Fridge

  • Skim or 1 percent milk or fortified soy milk.

  • Fresh fruit. Keep at least one kind of fruit washed, cut, and stored in a clear plastic container where your kids can see and grab it.

  • Hummus. Dip carrots in this chickpea spread.

  • Low-fat yogurt. Mix fresh fruit into vanilla or plain.

  • 100 percent fruit juice. Dilute it with water or seltzer. Try pre-diluted Wadda Juice single-serve bottles or Mott's for Tots boxes for car trips.

  • Bagged salad. Look for darker greens like baby spinach or a mix of multicolored lettuces like mesclun or field greens.

  • Lunch meats like turkey and lean roast beef.

  • Tortillas. They're a fun alternative to bread.

  • Fresh veggies. Buy your own to wash and chop. Or pick up prewashed, precut veggies like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, snow peas, and celery to serve as a snack, toss into salads, or steam.

  • Low-fat cheese. Stock reduced-fat block cheese such as Cracker Barrel 2 percent milk cheese, reduced-fat string cheese, Laughing Cow minis, and part-skim shredded cheese.

In the Pantry

  • Whole-grain crackers. Choose brands with at least 2 grams of fiber (and no trans fats) like Ryvita, Wasa, Kashi TLC 7-Grain, and low-sodium Triscuit.

  • Whole-grain pasta such as high-fiber Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Blend Pasta or Barilla Plus, which has extra protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Reduced-fat salad dressing. Low-fat ranch makes a great dip.

  • Oatmeal. Choose whole oats or unflavored instant.

  • Whole-grain bread. Check labels for brands that have at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.

  • Applesauce. Look for an unsweetened brand.

  • Dried or canned beans. Chickpeas, black beans, and fat-free refried beans are rich in protein.

  • Whole wheat couscous cooks just as quickly as the regular kind.

  • Brown rice. A great source of whole grains.

  • Sweet potatoes have lots of vitamin A.

  • Whole-grain breakfast cereal. Aim for at least 3 grams of fiber. Ones to try: Raisin Bran, Multi-Bran Chex, or Kashi Heart-to-Heart or Mighty Bites.

  • Nuts and seeds. Go for almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.

  • Salsa. A zesty way to sneak in more veggies.

  • Canned fruit that's packed in juice.

  • Jarred pasta sauce. Add extra veggies like shredded zucchini.

  • Dried fruit. A half-cup counts as a serving of fruit.

  • Salmon and light tuna for salads and sandwiches.

  • Peanut butter or other nut butters.

In the Freezer

  • Boneless chicken breasts. Add to pasta, salads, and stir-fries.

  • Lean ground beef. Buy 90 percent lean.

  • Salmon and other low-mercury fish such as cod and tilapia.

  • Vegetarian chicken patties. One kid-friendly flavor is MorningStar Farms Parmesan Ranch.

  • Frozen veggies. Besides the basics, pick up high-protein edamame.

  • Ground turkey. Look for extra lean.

  • Veggie burgers made from soy protein.

  • Frozen fruit (no sugar added) to eat from the bag or add to smoothies.

Fast Meal: Chicken & Rice

  • Brown rice + precut veggies + chicken

Fast Meal: Salad

  • Bagged lettuce + canned salmon or tuna + veggies + dried cranberries + reduced-fat salad dressing

Fast Meal: Pasta

Whole-grain pasta + ground-turkey meatballs + jarred pasta sauce

Fast Meal: Healthy Oatmeal

Oatmeal + milk + frozen fruit + almonds (for kids 4 and up)

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the June 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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