/ 7 June 2024

Practical, healthy cooking tips and recipes

Healthy Eating And Diet Concepts. Top View Of Spring Salad Shot From Above On Rustic Wood Table.

Peek into the pantry of a dietitian – make meal planning easy and shopping healthy 

Planning meals that are healthy can take time, if we don’t know the basics about what’s good and what’s not. Ever wonder what the basic foods in a dietitian’s kitchen are? Well, here they are. What’s even better, is that these foods that boost your health come at reasonable prices too. So, fill up your pantry and enjoy healthier meals that will get the dietitian-approved stamp. 

Why plan meals? 

When we are hungry, we tend to grab what’s closest to eat or order from our phones. By planning meals, healthy snacks and foods are always available. Knowing what you’ll eat saves time and money, and no food goes to waste when you stick to your meal plan. 

Start with knowing what a healthy plate of food looks like 

It’s easy with the three-step food plate model:  

  1. Make half your plate vegetables and fruit. 
  2. Make one-quarter of your plate whole grain foods.
  3. Make one-quarter of your plate healthy protein foods. 

Tip: Choose whole foods and keep ultra-processed foods, salt and sugar to a minimum. 

The foods to always have in your kitchen 

Tip: If your grocery list includes these foods every week, you’ll be more likely to eat them regularly.  

Shopping list for a healthy plate at every meal   

  • Fresh vegetables and fruit — this should make up half of the food you eat. So, add as much colour to your shopping basket as possible. 
  • Canned vegetables like tomatoes bring a stew together. 
  • Frozen vegetables can be added to a lot of meals to add fibre and nutrients.

Tip: Choose canned vegetables without added sugar or salt for the healthier option.


  • Oats
  • Brown rice — cook brown rice in batches and freeze portions to save time. 
  • Whole wheat pasta 
  • Whole wheat cous-cous — a quick, easy addition to any meal that only needs boiling water and a few minutes to soak.

Healthy protein and legumes

  • Skinless chicken 
  • Fish like sardines, pilchards, salmon, trout, and mackerel or tuna in brine.
  • Uncooked or canned lentils, peas and beans — rinse off the brine and have a healthy, nutrient dense protein to add to your meal.

Tip: Choose canned proteins in water or brine, instead of oil or sauces that often include added sugar and salt, for the healthier option. 


  • Unsalted nuts 
  • Dried fruit 
  • Popcorn kernels for homemade popcorn. 

Tip: It’s well worth investing in your herbs and spices collection to add a variety of tastes to your meals. Choose fresh herbs and salt-free dried herbs and spices.

Have fun and be creative! The Vitality HealthyFood Studio makes healthy eating easy with recipes to make at home. Enjoy this Cannellini bean soup with spinach, tomato and chives and Lentil roasted pumpkin rocket feta salad for added protein and a boost for the immune system as we head to the colder months. 

Book a HealthyFood Studio course on the HealthyFood Studio website https://www.healthyfoodstudio.co.za/#/courses



Carla Pool: Dietitian for Discovery Vitality