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With the right foods in your kitchen, you can put together a meal that’s more nutritious, lower calorie, and less expensive than take-out pizza – and you can do it faster.

Refrigerator Must-Haves

Cheese (reduced-fat): Keep sliced or pre-shredded cheese on hand for quick meals. It can be the feature of a meal – grilled cheese sandwich – or you can use it in smaller amounts to add flavor to a main dish.

Eggs or egg substitutes: Reduce cholesterol and saturated fat in egg-based dishes by using half eggs and half egg substitute (or egg whites). Scrambled eggs or omelets are a quick, comforting meal any time of day.

Fruits and vegetables: Keep bananas, oranges, and vine-ripened tomatoes on the counter. Put apples and baby carrots in the crisper. Cut up melon, wash grapes, and dice tomatoes and onion as you put away groceries, so they are front and center and ready to eat or cook with.

Lettuce or baby spinach in bags: Make an instant side salad with pre-washed greens or the base for an entree with sliced chicken on top. Serve greens as filler for sandwiches, wraps, and burgers. For extra nutrition, toss baby spinach into soups and stews, omelets, frittatas, and casseroles.

Milk (skim or 1%): One quick way to decrease calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat is to get less fat from your milk. Use skim, 1% milk, and fat-free half-and-half in recipes that call for whole milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream.

Yogurt (low-fat): Eat it alone, as a parfait with fruit and cereal, or add it to smoothies. Use yogurt as a fat substitute in bakery recipes such as muffins, cakes, or brownies to reduce fat and calories.

Frozen Foods to Fall Back on

Chicken or lean meat, individual portions: Thaw the number of pieces you need, when you need it. Serve as your main course, or use smaller amounts for a salad or stir-fry. 

Fish fillets (grilled): Fish usually cooks very quickly. Broil it for your main dish with salsa on top, or grill on your stovetop with a bit of cheese for a fish sandwich. Avoid frozen fried fish.

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