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Ordering groceries online or through an app and having them delivered to your door is an unmatched — and increasingly popular — convenience that can both save you time and help keep you on track with your healthy nutrition journey.

However, each week can get a bit monotonous if you’re ordering the same items on repeat. Since you’re no longer wandering around a store, having some new ideas suggested can keep your routine fresh or help add some different regular rotation items into your usual food plan.

Check out these dietitian-approved items to consider adding to your next grocery order.

Chickpea or Black Bean Pasta

For busy families, I’ve seen that spaghetti with meat sauce or buttered noodles can be a common dinner fallback when time is tight. For those clients, I often recommend these pasta alternatives, which are just as quick to prepare.

Compared to typical pasta and most gluten-free and rice-based pastas, these options are usually naturally gluten-free and also provide a significantly better boost of hunger-busting protein and fiber to help keep energy levels from crashing.

These can be served up as a direct replacement to your typical pasta dishes, or try them cooked-then-chilled in a pasta salad for a next-day lunch.

Frozen Riced Cauliflower

It seems that cauliflower is having its day in the sun — there are so many popular new and creative ways to use it, with one of those being buying it already chopped into rice-sized granules and frozen. It’s a time-saving hack that can be leveraged in a number of ways.

Try using riced cauliflower directly in place of rice to amp up the veggie content of your stir-fry, add it to a soup until tender and then use an immersion blender to purée and thicken, or even throw it into a malted protein shake recipe.

Protein Shake Add-Ins

If you use a daily shake habit to help keep you on track with your nutrition and set the tone for your day, having new ideas for add-ins can help keep the variety high and the routine fresh.

Try having some natural extracts on hand to add a few drops of flavor; some favorites include vanilla, almond, and maple extract. If you have vanilla protein powder, keep some organic cocoa powder at home to easily mix the two up into a chocolate shake when sweet cravings hit.

Also consider texture-changing ingredients, such as cacao nibs or unsweetened coconut shreds. They both provide some variety in taste, along with added fat and fiber to help make your shake more filling.

Convenience Proteins

If you’ve ever stared at raw chicken breast or ground turkey in your fridge wishing dinner would make itself, you’re not alone.

While cooked-from-scratch food is always best, keeping a few go-to protein options on hand can help you throw together a satisfying meal with near-minimal effort at the times you need it most. Certain chicken sausages or turkey burgers that are ready to heat and eat can save the day when you have dinner decision fatigue.

For ideas on ways to use them and how to pick the best options, see “Convenience Foods That are Worth It When it Comes to Meal Prep.”

Natural Sweeteners

For those trying to find a quick way to reduce their added sugar intake, having a couple of quick swaps that you can use in similar ways to traditional sugar and sweeteners makes it easy.

A few natural options our nutrition team approves of include liquid stevia drops (just a couple go a long way) and granulated monk fruit or erythritol, which typically can be used cup-for-cup in place of table sugar. These alternative options are becoming increasingly available at regular grocery stores and large-box retailers.

Par Stock Staples

In the restaurant business, “par stock” is the baseline amount of certain key ingredients needed to have on hand to fulfill typical operations and order volume.

It can be helpful to have a similar mindset at home in your own kitchen, perhaps just with a little less detail and formality. When you’re working to try new healthy recipes, having some common ingredients already at home can make nutrition changes feel more feasible and easier to implement since it won’t require as much in-the-moment purchasing.

Here are some examples of staples I encourage clients to have stocked. If you don’t have these at home already, they might be a good add to your next grocery order to subsequently save the effort on future recurring orders.

  • Several oils: Consider having a few staple oils on hand to provide flexibility in various recipes. Coconut oil is a stable cooking fat, a quality olive oil provides flavor and benefit to homemade dressings, avocado oil is versatile and has a neutral flavor, and sesame oil can provide a great flavor depth to sautés and Asian-inspired sauces.
  • Spices and spice blends: Keep a good stock of garlic and onion powder, ground ginger, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and lemon-pepper and steak seasoning to use.
  • Coconut aminos: This is a gluten- and soy-free alternative to soy sauce that will quickly enhance the flavor of marinades, sauces, or stir-fry dishes.
  • Almond and coconut flours: When you’re lowering your intake of refined grains and limiting traditional flour, both of these options are naturally gluten-free and can be used with spices atop baked fish, as a binder in protein energy balls, or as a staple ingredient in homemade dessert bars. Be sure to follow a tested recipe when using them, however, as they’re not a one-for-one substitute for white all-purpose flour.
  • Himalayan salt: This can be used like traditional salt, but is a mineral-rich alternative.
  • Non-dairy milk: There are several options to choose from, but I recommend an unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Luckily, these are available in shelf-stable cartons that do not have to be refrigerated until opening to help you save on fridge space.
  • Nut butter: This one is a no-brainer to support healthy fat intake. Look for options are simply made of nuts and salt (without other added ingredients or sugars). Try them paired with sliced apples or strawberries, celery sticks, or blended into a protein shake.

Keep the conversation going.

Leave a comment, ask a question, or see what others are talking about in the Life Time Health Facebook group.

Samantha McKinney, RD, CPT

Samantha McKinney has been a dietitian, trainer and coach for over 10 years. At first, her interests and experience were in a highly clinical setting in the medical field, which ended up laying a strong foundation for understanding metabolism as her true passion evolved: wellness and prevention. She hasn’t looked back since and has had the honor of supporting Life Time’s members and nutrition programs in various roles since 2011.

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