Updated: August 26, 2011

Stocking up on lowfat, high-fiber healthy foods is key to any weight loss plans.

When nutrient-rich food is easily accessible, you're likely to actually use what's on hand to create meals, and to nosh on healthy foods too. To wit: If you don't keep Doritos in your cupboard, you'll probably reach for the whole-grain crackers and reduced-fat peanut butter instead.

Grab a cart. Here's how to load your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer with the best choices your grocery store has to offer. After you return home to unload, you'll be just one step away from weight loss and good health.

Healthy grocery list for a week's worth of groceries

Listed under each food group you'll find: "Why" you need to buy (and eat) these foods and your "Best Picks," a grocery list for the healthy foods (including the brand names to look for) you'll need for your weight loss plans.

Grocery shopping for a healthy, more plant-based diet is often less expensive than loading up on traditional American staples like red meat, butter, cheese, high-sugar cereals and snacks. One simple dinner consisting of a 3-ounce sirloin steak, a baked potato and 1 cup of broccoli costs approximately $7.66. The cost of the first dinner in our meal plan on page 162 (Kasha and Pasta With Lemon Pesto served with a spinach and tomato salad) is a much more frugal $3.89 per serving.

Aisle for healthy whole grains: breads, cereals and grains

Why When you opt for healthy whole grains over refined products (such as white rice and white flour), you get more:

  • fiber
  • folic acid
  • magnesium
  • vitamins E and B6
  • copper
  • zinc
  • dozens of phytochemicals

These all help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Become an avid label-reader to make sure you're getting healthy whole grains (just because bread is brown doesn't make it whole grain). The product is whole grain if the first ingredient is whole grain, whole wheat or rye (plain wheat flour is not whole grain). Opt for breads with 2 or more grams of fiber per slice (most slices range from 70-90 calories).

Read on for a healthy grocery list that includes delicious breakfast cereals, grains, breads and produce that fit in perfectly with your weight loss plans.[header = Healthy grocery list: purchase these healthy whole grains, produce and more.]

Shop for delicious healthy foods that fit into your weight loss plans.

Best picks of healthy foods: breakfast cereals

1 box Kellogg's All-Bran

1 box General Mills Total

1 container Quaker Oats (original or quick-cooking)

Best picks of healthy whole grains

1 box quick-cooking brown rice

1 box buckwheat groats (kasha)

1 box quinoa

1 pack corn tortillas

1 pack whole-wheat tortillas

1 box reduced-fat Triscuits

1 box whole-wheat pasta spirals (or any pasta shape)

Best picks of healthy foods: bread

1 loaf Pepperidge Farm Natural Whole-Grain

Healthy grocery list for the produce section

Why There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables, all of which help prevent cancer, heart disease, macular degeneration (age-related blindness), neural-tube birth defects, diabetes and obesity. Research has shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help manage your weight.

Best picks of healthy foods: fruits and vegetables

1 kiwi

1 papaya

1 apricot

1 cantaloupe

2 mandarin oranges or 1 orange

1 basket strawberries

1 avocado

2 beefsteak tomatoes

1 acorn squash

1 bunch Swiss chard

1 bag baby spinach leaves

1 head red lettuce

1 cucumber

7-ounce jar roasted red peppers

1 garlic bulb

1 medium onion

1 green bell pepper

1 bunch broccoli raab or 1 head broccoli

2 lemons

1 lime

1 bunch fresh cilantro

1-ounce container prepared pesto (such as Buitoni; refrigerated in the produce or dairy aisle)

1-inch piece fresh ginger root

3 bananas

1 honeydew melon

1 bunch red grapes

1-pound bag baby carrots

Keep reading for your healthy grocery list for the beans, legumes and fish that fit perfectly into your weight loss plans.[header = Healthy grocery list, part 2: buy healthy foods that help you lose weight.]

Discover even more tasty healthy foods that fit in perfectly with your weight loss plans.

Best picks of healthy foods: the beans/legume aisle

Why Beans are among the best sources of folic acid, a powerful B vitamin that promotes a healthy heart and the development of a healthy baby. Beans are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, important for a happy colon. Both canned and dried beans offer the same nutrition; just be sure to rinse canned beans to remove excess salt before using. Peanuts are actually legumes, too, (legumes are the fruit or seed portion of a plant) and they're an excellent source of fiber and vitamin E too.

Nutritionally, most legumes are similar, except lentils, which pack a bit more folic acid: 1 cup of cooked lentils has 100 micrograms more than black, navy and white beans, 76 mcg more than garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), and 66 mcg more than pinto beans (lentils have 358 mcg per cup). As for fiber: kidney beans and lentils have 16 grams of fiber per 1 cup cooked; black, navy and pinto beans have 14 grams of fiber per cup; white beans have 12 grams of fiber per cup; and garbanzo beans have 10 grams of fiber per cup.

Best picks of healthy foods

15-ounce can pinto beans

15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

15-ounce can white beans

8-ounce can cut green beans

18-ounce jar reduced-fat peanut butter (Jif)

Best picks of healthy foods: the fish counter

Why Many varieties of fish are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that fends off arterial blockages, helps relax narrowed arteries so blood can flow through, reduces blood levels of a very-low-density lipoprotein associated with heart disease, and promotes healing of arterial walls. The types with the most omega-3's include the rich, oily, dark-fleshed fish, such as salmon, sardines, bluefin tuna, trout and mackerel (also known as kingfish or king mackerel).

Best picks of healthy foods

8-ounce salmon fillet, Atlantic farmed or wild

6-ounce can bluefin or yellowfin tuna (Genova)

8-ounce king mackerel or trout fillet

6-ounce can salmon

The next part of your healthy grocery list focuses on dairy and soy, plus nuts, seeds and oils.[header = Weight loss plans: reach your goals by using a healthy grocery list by Shape.]

Best picks of healthy foods: the dairy and soy section

Why Low- and nonfat dairy products offer bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin D, a vitamin that helps calcium do its job. Soy products are rich in isoflavones, plant estrogens that may reduce the risk of some kinds of breast and ovarian cancer; they also may ease hot flashes and impede the growth of malignant tumors. Plus, the calcium in dairy and fortified soy products helps reduce blood pressure. As for taste and texture, soy cheese and soy yogurt are virtually indistinguishable from cow's-milk varieties.

Best picks of healthy foods

Nonfat milk

8-ounce container lowfat yogurt (any flavor)

1 package soy cheese

1 package soy turkey

1 package frozen soybeans (edamame)

6-ounce container soy yogurt (Silk)

1/2 dozen eggs or 6-ounce container refrigerated egg whites

8-ounce bag shredded Mexican cheese blend (Sargento) or reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

8-ounce container lowfat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (such as Haagen-Dazs)

Best picks of healthy foods: nuts/seeds/oils aisle

Why Nuts and seeds are rich in monounsaturated fat, the same fat found in olive oil that helps raise our good cholesterol (HDL) levels without raising our bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. Walnuts are especially rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which the body converts to heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds are a good source of calcium: 3 1/2 ounces supplies 280 mg of calcium, more than what you get in 4 ounces of yogurt.

Best picks of healthy foods

8-ounce jar tahini (sesame paste)

1 package blanched almonds

1 package shelled walnuts

8-ounce bottle olive oil

Just one more set of items for your healthy grocery list / weight loss plans![header = Healthy grocery list, part 4: healthy foods in the frozen foods section.]

You need to know what foods to buy for your weight loss plans – and Shape gives you the lists of delicious nutritious foods that you need.

Best picks of healthy foods: the frozen food section

Why Frozen fruits and vegetables are often as nutritious (and sometimes more) as their fresh counterparts since they're frozen immediately after harvest. The frozen vegetable blends and "meal starters" make planning healthy meals a breeze.

Frozen fruits are great for smoothies, muffins and quick breads (just add the frozen fruit to the batter right before baking and add a few minutes to the cooking time), and they make a great base for sauces to accompany chicken, turkey and pork. And when time's at a minimum, healthy frozen breakfasts and savory entrees can save the day.

Best picks of healthy foods

Whole-grain waffles (Eggo)

16-ounce bag mixed vegetables for stir-fry (Birds Eye)

16-ounce bag frozen fruit (peaches, berries or cherries)

2-3 healthy frozen entrees (such as Weight Watchers Smart Ones Santa Fe Style Rice and Beans, Lean Cuisine Alfredo Pasta Primavera and Lean Cuisine Angel Hair Pasta)

Best picks of healthy foods: condiments to keep on hand

You're going to need these spices and condiments to prepare the related meals. So put them on your healthy grocery list too:

- Salt and pepper

- Fat-free Italian dressing

- Ground cumin

- Vinegar (red-wine and balsamic)

- Dijon or honey mustard

- Ground cinnamon

- Maple syrup

- Chicken or vegetable broth

- Cornstarch

- All-purpose flour

- Salsa

These foods fit in well with just about any weight loss plans! Enjoy.

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