If you want to revamp your kitchen, don’t start with new tile or appliances. Simply open your cabinets!
Some kitchen do-overs can cost thousands of dollars and run weeks late, but this is a different kind. This makeover is about the food you store in your kitchen. See, we believe healthy choices should feel like second nature, whether you’re in one of our cafés or in your own home. And the simplest way to make eating well at home effortless is to fill your cabinets with nutritious, flavorful foods that make smart choices easy.
So what should you toss and what should you stock up on? We’re breaking it down for you right here.
What to Toss
Get rid of processed foods that add unwanted trans fats and sugars to your diet or derail your healthy-eating habits.
Trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils: Research has shown that trans fats raise your bad cholesterol while lowering your good cholesterol, and that’s a combo that can increase your risk of heart disease. Trans fats, listed as “partially hydrogenated oils,” primarily show up in commercial baked goods. Frozen pizzas, microwave popcorn, even coffee creamers are other common contributors, so turn over the labels on the snacks in your cabinet and ditch them if they include trans fats.
Added sugars: The problem with sugar is that it shows up everywhere, often masquerading as something else on ingredient lists. See “corn syrup,” “fruit nectar,” or “high-fructose corn syrup” on there? Yup, that’s sugar. And it’s not just lurking in sweets. Added sugar can be found in an array of foods. Check out the labels on your bread, sauces, and other pantry staples to ensure that added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients and ideally nowhere on the list. (The choosemyplate.gov site lists more than 20 types of added sugars you might find on ingredient lists.)
Trigger foods: Whether it’s potato chips, cookies, or snack cakes, whatever foods you just can’t avoid indulging in are best left out of your kitchen. It just makes the temptation to polish off a bag extra hard to resist if it’s nearby. That doesn’t mean you can never enjoy them. Instead treat yourself while you’re out or buy a single serving as an occasional indulgence.
What to Keep and Stock Up On
Load up on nutrient-dense, fiber-full foods that can be used to make a myriad of meals, even on the busiest of days.
Whole grains: Take a look at your breads, pastas, and cereals to make sure the first ingredient has the word “whole” in it. If not, it may not have all the essential parts of the grain, which include the good-for-you fiber and nutrients that refined grains don’t. Mix up your grains by adding barley or different types of rice and fast-cooking grains such as quinoa to make quick weekday meals easy.
Beans: Dried or canned varieties are high in fiber and versatile. Try adding beans to soups and rice or puree them for delicious dips like homemade hummus.
Healthy oils: Heart-healthy olive oil is just one type of good-for-you oil—try different types that are high in monounsaturated fat (such as peanut or sesame) to bring new flavors to salad dressings.
Nuts: A handful of nuts make a high-protein, nutritionally packed snack, but they can also be added to sandwiches, salads, or yogurt for a surprising crunch.
Stock: Keep some low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock on hand to add flavor without fat to weeknight dinners and use as the base for easy soups.
Herbs and spices: Dried herbs and spices pack a powerful flavor punch and stay fresh for up to four years. Having a variety of herbs (like oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and tarragon) handy gives you plenty of options to add another layer of flavor to even the most mundane dishes—without significantly upping the calorie count.
Dried fruit: Satisfy your sweet tooth with dried apples, mangos, or apricots rather than reaching for a sugary snack. They’re also an easy topping to jazz up salads.
Canned tomatoes: Whether pureed, crushed, or whole, canned tomatoes are packed with the antioxidant lycopene and great for quick sauces that can be used for DIY pizzas, pasta dishes, or stews.