First stop: Head for the produce section. This week, you’re bulking up on fruits and vegetables, which take up a lot of space. Pick six to eight vegetables and another four fruits to bring home with you this week. Use up produce that will spoil quickly, such as leafy greens and thin-skinned berries toward the beginning of the week and rely on your pantry staples and frozen goods toward the end. Root vegetables, like potatoes and carrots, and heartier fruits like apples will hold just fine as the week goes on as well.
- Greens: Buy a variety! There is nothing worse than a boring, limp salad — try arugula, escarole or radicchio for a fresh spin. Buy chard and kale to wilt as a side dish or make them the star of your dinner plate by topping with a poached egg.
- Potatoes: Potatoes get a bad rap because of their carbs, but really, one russet potato contains about 150 calories and lots of potassium. They are an inexpensive and filling vehicle for the addition of more vegetables, like sautéed spinach, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Sweet potatoes also have a lot going for them.
- Assorted snack veggies: Carrots, celery, cucumber, jicama and bell peppers are all great choices to have on hand. Not only can they be incorporated into meals, but you can also bag them up for a bite on the run.
- Berries: During the summer, stock up on berries when they are cheap and plentiful. Usually a breakfast item, berries can also be tossed into salads and eaten for dessert.
- Apples: Apples are the perfect snack on the run — try them with a little peanut or almond butter. Also, try coring and roasting apples with some cinnamon and brown sugar for a simple, healthful dessert.
Next, take a walk down the protein aisle. Because this week we’re incorporating more fruits and vegetables, your protein list won’t be long. Buy three to four proteins that can be used for both dinner and lunch, with leftovers rolled into new meals.
- Ground meat: Try picking up a package of lean ground chicken or turkey. Make a healthy burger or lightened-up whole-wheat pasta dish. Ground lean proteins offer endless options. Often on sale, buy in bulk and freeze any meat you don’t use up. Store up to three months. (It’s always good to have leftover proteins in your freezer as a backup plan.)
- Pork: With the hysteria around bacon, pork belly and pig product in general, it’s easy to forget that there are cuts of pork that are lean and healthful. Try picking up a package of boneless pork chops or pork tenderloin. Low in fat, pork can be a great alternative to the overused chicken breast.
- Seafood: Fish and shellfish are low in calories and fat, and should be turned to time and time again for healthful eating. Pick up a bag of mussels or clams and steam with white wine and herbs.