How to improve your shopping list
With our go-to guide, you can ensure your home is stocked with delicious fresh foods without any fuss. Here’s how to make doing a healthy grocery shop, easy!
Fruits and vegetables
Packed with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables should take up the majority of your shopping trolley. Enjoy fruit as snacks and bulk up main meals with plenty of sliced, grated or roasted vegetables. Look for what’s in season for the best tasting and cheapest produce, and aim for five serves of vegies and two serves of fruit per day.
- Zucchinis are high in potassium and vitamins A and C. “They can be eaten in a range of ways – steamed, grilled, stuffed, baked, barbecued or even eaten raw,” says accredited practising dietitian Kate Gudorf.
- Spinach is one of the simplest ways to add a splash of green to your meals, either cooked or raw. It’s high in vitamins and minerals including iron.
- Carrots along with other orange vegetables such as pumpkin, boost your vitamin A levels. “This is beneficial for a range of things including eye health, reproduction and immune function,” says Gudorf. Team them with a tablespoon of hummus, peanut butter or cheese sticks for a speedy protein sustaining snack.
- Tomatoes are a fantastic source of vitamins A, C and B, while another red vegie, capsicum, helps lift your vitamin C intake. Have capsicum sliced onto a pizza, stuffed or raw in a salad, and for a ZeroPoint salsa, dice tomatoes and toss with lime juice, finely chopped Spanish onion and fresh coriander.
- Berries are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They can be frozen and kept in the freezer all year for a burst of summer in the cooler months. WW Senior Food Editor Lucy Kelly suggests a fruit salad topped with 99% fat-free plain yoghurt and a sprinkle of chopped nuts and seeds as a speedy breakfast.
Lean meats and seafood
Protein is essential in a healthy diet, as it helps build and repair body tissues and transports nutrient around the body. When buying meat, choose lean cuts such as premium lean beef mince or chicken breast fillets with little visible fat and the skin removed. If you’re vegetarian, good non-meat sources of protein include eggs, tofu and legumes.
- Skinless chicken breast will become a staple in your shopping trolley as it’s a ZeroPoint food, whether it’s braised, baked, roasted, barbecued, grilled, dry fried, stewed or poached. To keep chicken breast moist, bake with the skin on, then remove the skin before eating. “Otherwise poaching in gently simmering water for five minutes then standing in the hot water for 15 minutes to cool will keep them very moist,” says Lucy.
- Skinless turkey breast makes a great change from chicken and is just as versatile. Wherever you would use a chicken breast fillet you can use a skinless turkey breast, says Lucy. And Kate says it’s a rich source of protein – choosing 80g of cooked turkey (100g raw) can be a great way to achieve one of these serves. Be aware that the turkey mince available from supermarkets may not be ZeroPoint food, as it includes breast and leg meat. Ask your local butcher to mince turkey breast for you.
- Lamb backstrap may be a bit expensive, but are also one of the quickest, easiest meals to prepare, by chargrilling or pan-frying and serving with a salad. Like any lean red meat, lamb is a rich source of protein, iron, zinc, and also contains vitamin B12, omega-3s and other B vitamins.
- Frozen marinara mix is a simple way to add seafood at a fraction of the price of fish shops or fish counters at supermarkets. “Throw it into seafood stews with canned tomatoes or stir-fries or curries,” says Lucy. “Thaw quickly on a defrost setting in your microwave.”
- Canned tuna in springwater can help make a meal in minutes (see page 74 for six ways with tuna). “These tinned varieties can be a great addition to your pantry as they are a shelf-stable way to add a protein hit to your meals,” says Gudorf. “Adding a small can of tuna to a salad or having some with tomato on some crackers shows how it can be used in both main meals and snacks.” Plus, tuna is a ZeroPoint food!
- Tinned sardines are another genius ZeroPoint food which gives you the flexibility of choosing another variety of fish for a boost of omega-3s and protein.
- Salmon fillets, bought frozen, are a delicious ZeroPoint food for a fraction of the cost of fresh fillets. “The best way to cook them is to grill skin-side down on a foil-lined tray 5cm from a hot grill for three minutes or until the top side is golden,” says Lucy. “Slide off the skin with a spatula and serve with a squeeze of lemon.”
Milk and dairy
Dairy is important not only for maintaining strong bones, it helps keep the immune system healthy too. If you’re lactose intolerant or you don’t like milk, try low-fat soy milk or rice milk, fortified with calcium instead. But remember, even people living with a lactose intolerance can still tolerate a small amount of lactose each day – hard cheeses and yoghurt are usually well tolerated. Try incorporating more dairy into your day with a skim milk latte at breakfast and a tub of low-fat yoghurt for afternoon tea.
- Eggs are quick to prepare, packed full of protein, vitamins and minerals, and they are a ZeroPoint food. “Hard-boil half a dozen eggs at a time and store unpeeled in the fridge to add to salads, vegetable curries and as an anytime snack,” says Lucy. “An omelette is a great breakfast, lunch or dinner when time is short. Fill with lots of vegies, corn or peas for a filling meal.”
- Skim milk contains high-quality protein, helping you to feel fuller for longer, and it also contains a variety of different nutrients including calcium, potassium, zinc and vitamins A and B12, says Gudorf.
- 99% fat-free plain Greek yoghurt is super-versatile for both sweet and savoury dishes – and is a ZeroPoint food. Use it to top fruit salad or make a savoury sauce to serve with fish or meat or to marinate chicken, fish or lean lamb before barbecuing or grilling. “Add a little tandoori paste, tikka paste, Indian spices or chopped herbs and garlic to flavour,” says Lucy. “It’s also great for making vegie dips such as chickpea, beetroot, carrot, pumpkin, eggplant, lentil or tzatziki (cucumber and garlic). Serve with vegie sticks.”
- Parmesan cheese is a great addition to round out your favourite pasta sauces and salads – and 1 tablespoon is only 1 SmartPoints per serve.
Wholegrains and legumes
Wholegrains are packed with nutrients and fibre, which can help keep you feeling full. The body uses most of its energy supply from carbohydrates so it’s important to include them as part of a healthy diet. Look for wholegrain varieties of breads, pastas and cereals. Try quinoa, barley or wild rice for more exotic flavours.
- Nuts are a nutritional power house, containing fibre, vitamins and minerals. Opt for raw, unsalted versions, dry roasting them yourself in a moderate oven to help avoid added oils.
- Oats are a gold star food, being minimally processed and providing a range of B vitamins. “It also has a lower GI than cereal, meaning it is broken down slowly, keeping you fuller for longer,” says Gudorf. “Oats can be bought in bulk and you can make a seamless transition from summer to winter by having them with milk or yoghurt in summer and as porridge in winter.”
- Wholegrain pasta is a great way to enjoy pasta with the bonus of a fibre boost. And if you cook it al dente, it’s even better for you. “When cooked al dente, pasta is lower GI, meaning it keeps you fuller for longer without spiking your blood glucose levels,” says Gudorf. “Pasta can be made with a variety of vegetables and lean protein for a complete, healthy meal.”
- Brown rice has a nutty flavour, is low GI and adds fibre to your meals, particularly in comparison to regular rice. Try the sachets of ready cooked rice which microwave in seconds.
- Wholegrain couscous is a fantastic pantry standby and is as versatile as the usual varieties but healthier, as it uses the whole grains of durum wheat.
- Tinned kidney beans are a great buy, especially as they’re now available in smaller tins, so stock up and keep some on hand for tossing into salads, meat casseroles, and of course, healthy chilli con carne!
- Edameme are the tasty Japanese broad beans that come podded and frozen from Asian grocery stores. They add a flavour boost to everything from salads to stir-fries, curries and soups, says Lucy.
- Dried French-style green lentils can be simply boiled in 15-20 minutes without soaking beforehand. Add salt to the water and be careful not to overcook, as they will fall apart, says Lucy. “Add to salads or serve as a side, flavoured with browned sliced onions and chopped parsley,” she says.
Tip: Try adding red lentils to your meals. Lentils are a great addition to thicken vegetable, chicken or seafood soups without adding any extra SmartPoints.
Fluid helps carry nutrients around the body, as well as helping to remove waste. Stay hydrated by sipping water throughout the day. Keep a bottle of water handy when you’re on the move or keep a jug at your desk with a squeeze of fresh lemon or some mint leaves to make it more enticing.
Healthy oils have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They contain antioxidants and a range of other vitamins and minerals. Healthy oils include olive, safflower, canola, linseed, flaxseed and sunflower oil. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil over lunchtime salads or spray over chopped vegetables with some spices and roast in the oven.