Organizing & Planning Your Healthy Meals: A Checklist for Your Health

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

When you are trying to move to a healthier diet, organizing and planning your meals is essential. By stocking your pantry with easy, accessible healthy foods can be the first step in creating a healthy meal. Next, make sure your refrigerator is loaded with foods that can be help enhance your meal choices by adding condiments or dressings like tomatoes and fresh spinach or romaine lettuce which will provide an array of extra nutrients. For example, making a turkey wrap with dressed with spinach and tomato and having carrots dipped in hummus.   A well stocked freezer can also be beneficial especially on the days when you are too busy to decide on a healthy menu before you go to work. Check out the lists below and develop your weekly shopping list from the suggestions.


Stock Up Your Pantry with Healthy Foods

Here are some healthy pantry items for quick meals:

  1. Whole Wheat Couscous
  2. Quinoa
  3. Quick Cook Brown Rice
  4. Whole Wheat Pasta
  5. Bulgur Wheat
  6. Wheat Berries
  7. Whole Grain Bread
  8. Whole Grain Sandwich Thins
  9. Ground Flaxseed or grind your own
  10. Canned Tomatoes
  11. Tomato Sauce
  12. Tomato paste
  13. Canned Salmon
  14. Canned Tuna
  15. Sardines
  16. Boboli® Pizza Sauce
  17. Boboli® Whole Wheat Pizza Crust (can be frozen)
  18. Fat Free Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  19. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  20. Peanut Butter
  21. Almond Butter
  22. Thick Salsa
  23. Dried Beans, Lentils etc.
  24. Canned Beans –Black, Kidney, Navy, etc.
  25. Popcorn
  26. Steel Cut Oatmeal
  27. Dried Fruits like raisins, cranberries
  28. Nuts like Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans etc.
  29. Balsamic Vinegar
  30. Frosted Mini-Wheats
  31. Onions


Stock Your Freezer with Healthy Foods

Here’s Some Healthy Freezer Items for Quick Meals:

  1. Frozen Vegetables
  2. Frozen Unsweetened Fruits (can be used in smoothies or cereal)
  3. Chicken Breasts or Chicken Tenders
  4. Frozen Healthy TV Dinners (for emergencies) – such as Kashi® Meals, South Beach® Meals, Healthy Choice® Meals
  5. Frozen Alaskan Wild Salmon


Stock Up Your Refrigerator with Healthy Foods

Here are some healthy foods for quick meals:

  1. 100% Liquid Egg Whites
  2. Skim Milk
  3. Mozzarella Cheese
  4. Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
  5. Whole Wheat Tortillas
  6. Turkey Breast, Lean Ham
  7. Spinach, Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, etc.
  8. Mustard
  9. Carrots, Cucumbers, Peppers, etc
  10. Hummus
  11. Greek Yogurt – assorted flavors
  12. Reduced fat mayonnaise & other reduced fat salad dressings of choice

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Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition,, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 12 grandchildren.     

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