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How do you shop smart? It starts with having a variety of staples in your kitchen. Before you get started, here are three helpful tips for making your shopping list.

Create your shopping list

1. Don’t waste time putting together entire shopping lists each week. Instead, base your list on your menu, and keep a copy or a file on your computer that you can print.

2.  Use your smartphone or tablet to store your lists if that works better for you.

3. Be flexible, as there may be seasonal items or supermarket specials you want to include.

Choose smart staples for your kitchen

A well-stocked pantry, refrigerator, and freezer can help make it a breeze to prepare delicious and nutritious meals.


Canned legumes, such as chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils, are low-glycemic foods that can help control your blood sugar and provide other benefits. These are also a fast route to a tasty dip, and a great addition to vegetarian pasta sauces and soups, or to salads.

Canned fish—tuna, salmon, and crabmeat Terrific for sandwiches, these are also good for melts, pasta sauces, and salads.

Canned tomatoes (with no added salt) Use for sauces or soups.

Canned fruit (in juice or water): Keep on hand for a quick crisp or pie, or as a yogurt topping.

Pasta Choose whole grain for a taste of the Mediterranean, or soba noodles for an Asian touch.

Lower-salt broths Use these as a quick foundation for meals and side dishes.

Vinegars A splash can liven up a dish. Keep a few varieties on hand.


Natural peanut butter Not for kids alone, this staple can be the basis for an Asian noodle dish or salad. You can also choose from a variety of other nut butters that are available.

Yogurt Get plain low-fat Greek yogurt for dips and dressings, or (with fruit added) for dessert.

Cheese Depending on preferences, choose some lower-fat basics suitable for sandwiches, and others for cooking and for garnishes, such as Parmesan and cheddars.

Assorted condiments Options include mustards, chutneys, and salsas, depending on how adventurous your palate is. Try to buy low-sugar and low-sodium varieties; otherwise, use them only as a garnish and keep quantities in check.


Frozen vegetable mixes For fresh flavour and texture, consider a variety of stir-fry combinations. For a quick salad, microwave your veggie of choice until crisp and toss with your favourite dressing. Refrigerate any leftovers for later use. Steer clear of mixes with sauces that contain excess sodium and fat.

Meat or poultry strips Freeze raw strips of meat and poultry in a single layer on a plastic-lined baking sheet. When frozen solid, pack in labelled containers and freeze. Use from the freezer for soups, quick stir-fries, and salads.

Breads and alternatives Keep sliced whole-grain breads, rolls cut in halves and flour tortillas on hand for quick sandwiches and melts. Choosing healthy carbs is key.

Frozen fruit Options like berries can be added to sliced apples or pears for a yummy fruit crisp, or mixed with cut-up fresh fruit for a fruit salad

Did you know?

Diabetes Canada offers a range of healthy meal plans, including vegetarian, gluten-free, low-carb and more, in our Nutrition & Fitness section where you’ll also find delicious recipes.

This adapted article originally appeared in Diabetes Dialogue.

Author: Rosie Schwartz, RD, FDC

Category Tags: Healthy Living;

Region: National

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