Making small changes on what you add to your grocery cart can result in big gains for your and your family’s health. Skipping processed foods in favor of easy to prepare whole foods will help you lead a healthier lifestyle. Prepackaged foods are often loaded with added sugars, sodium, and fillers meaning you are eating more than you bargained for. These foods are often lacking in essential vitamins and minerals that are important building blocks of good health.
We recommend replacing the following nutritionally lacking foods with their healthier counterparts. Next time you go food shopping, bring your well-planned list and you’ll leave with a cart full of groceries that won’t bust your budget or diet.
SKIP: Frozen taquitos
Frozen taquitos and tacos may be tasty but they are loaded with sodium and fat.
Make your own in minutes with corn tortillas, shredded chicken, garlic, onion, Romaine lettuce, radish and a squeeze of lime to pump up the flavor.
SKIP: Juice drinks
Store bought juice drinks and cocktails are loaded with refined sugar and rarely contain more than 20% real fruit juice.
Instead choose 100% fruit juice. An even better choice is to enjoy a piece of whole fruit, which has fiber to help keep you full for longer.
SKIP: Packaged seasoned chicken wings
These wings are filled with sodium and fat and often have a lot of preservatives.
Buy a package of uncooked chicken wings, season to taste, and bake them at home. Your Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Thermometer will let you know when they have reached the optimal internal temperature. Simply insert the 1.5mm stainless-steel probe into the thickest part of the meat and in 10 seconds or less, you’ll have an accurate readout.
SKIP: Veggie Burgers
Many commercial veggie patties aren’t actually made from vegetables. Instead they are made from highly processed soy or textured vegetable protein, which is derived from soy and/or wheat.
Choose a burger that gets its protein from nuts, beans, or whole grains. Or you can make your own with these tasty Non-Meat Burger recipes.
SKIP: Veggie Chips
Veggie chips aren’t much better for you than traditional potato chips. Often the only veggie that they contain is a vegetable based food coloring. Be sure to check the ingredient list!
Roasted chickpeas are crunchy, salty, and satisfying and they also come in a variety of flavors. You can also roast and season your own at home.
Soda is empty calories, contains artificial coloring and lot of sugar. Diet soda is low in calories but contains chemicals and additives.
Unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water with a splash of juice, or fruit infused water. You can get more ideas for healthy beverages in our blog 8 Simple Ways to Make Healthier Drink Choices.
SKIP: White rice
White rice is low in fiber and doesn’t contain many nutrients.
A healthier alternative would be to eat brown rice, which is higher in fiber and will leave you feeling full for longer. Another rice alternative is to use riced cauliflower. Not only is this low in carbohydrates, it is high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories.
Traditional white pasta is high in carbohydrates and low in vitamins.
Whole wheat pasta or pasta made from quinoa has a higher fiber content. Pasta made from legums, such as edamame or black bean, are high in fiber and protein for a more rounded meal. Spiralizing vegetables such as zucchini or using spaghetti squash is a low carb option that provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
SKIP: Ramen noodles
Ramen may be a comfort meal but it’s extremely high in sodium and has little nutritional value. The lack of fiber and protein will cause you to feel hungry quickly.
DIY! Skip the pre-made boxes and make your own ramen. Cook soba noodles and add to chicken broth and frozen vegetables for a satisfying and healthy choice.
SKIP: Processed meats
Processed meats such as sausage, ground beef and pepperoni are high in fat and sodium. Having a meatless meal or two during the week is good for your health and your wallet.
Instead of cooking with ground beef or sausage, choose beans which are full of protein and fiber. Pinto, white, and black beans are a great substitution for all (or even half) of the ground beef in a dinner recipe. If you use canned beans, rinse them twice to get rid of the sodium.If you’re looking for veggie burger recipes, visit our blog post Non-Meat Burger Recipes You Need to Try.
SKIP: Pre-portioned snacks
While pre-portioned snacks aren’t necessarily unhealthy, they are expensive.
Save money by purchasing the large bag of your favorite healthy snacks instead of the individual snack packs. At home, use your Precision Elite Digital Kitchen Scale to measuring out serving sizes. You can accurately measure 1 ounce portions and place the snacks in baggies or small containers to snack to have on hand for the upcoming week.
SKIP: Store bought microwave popcorn
Microwave popcorn has a surprising amount of added fat, salt, and chemicals.
Air popped or popcorn made on the stove top with a bit of olive oil is a healthier choice. It’s also easy to make DIY microwave popcorn. Place kernels in a plain brown paper bag, fold the top down and cook in your microwave just as you would make pre-packaged popcorn.
SKIP: Flavored yogurt
Flavored yogurt can have a lot of added sugar or use artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t have much real fruit added into it, either.
Buy plain yogurt, add your own favorite fruits and/or flavorings, such as vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, or cinnamon, and sweeten with a bit of honey if desired.
WATCH THE INGREDIENTS: Peanut butter
Not all peanut butter is bad for you! Derived from peanuts, it’s a really good source of protein. Unfortunately, many commercial peanut butters have added oils and sugars.
Buy a natural peanut butter that only contains nuts and salt. You’ll get the benefits of plant based protein and healthy fats without the sugars and possible trans fats.
You can still enjoy your favorite foods but with a little planning ahead, you can make more nutritious versions of them.
You might also like reading How to Eat Out Without Sabotaging Your Healthy Habits.