The U.S. government nutrition program Choose My Plate recommends a balanced diet of vegetables, grains, protein, fruit and dairy to optimize health; therefore, a healthy grocery list might include fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grain pasta or bread and lean proteins such as chicken or fish. Fresh or dried fruit help provide dietary fiber; milk, yogurt and cheese contain healthy fats and calcium.
Choose My Plate notes that vegetables contain vital nutrients that can help maintain health and prevent some chronic diseases. Low in fat and high in fiber, vegetables can be cooked quickly in the microwave or prepared for simple snacks. Carrot sticks and apples are good choices for children because they are easy to eat. Beans and peas, which are high in fiber like other vegetables, are also good protein sources for those shopping on a budget or following a vegetarian diet.
Whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat are healthy food choices. These grains and others provide dietary fiber, folic acid and other important vitamins and minerals. Whole wheat, rye or oatmeal bread are good options, while cereals made from whole grain can be healthy breakfast choices. Whole wheat pasta is generally less processed and contains more fiber and nutrients than refined white pasta. Shoppers with gluten-free diets should check food labels to find appropriate products and gluten alternatives.
Many shoppers associate protein with meat; however, there is also protein in non-meat foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, eggs and soy products. Dietary iron is an important nutrient found in meats, especially red meat, while the protein in meat is important for building and healing muscles. Seek out lean, unprocessed meats for the healthiest options. Vegetarians and vegans should eat some protein every day to maintain optimal health.