Grocery Store Tips
By Brooke Parker
The best way to implement your healthy New Year nutrition goals is to start at the grocery store with a plan. I often tell my clients, “If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.” This saying applies to produce, fiber-rich foods, dairy foods and even lean meats. Without prior thought and planning these types of food, which actually constitute the bulk of a healthy diet, will be left out. If the grocery store or meal planning seems overwhelming to you, don’t sweat it. The following tips will allow you to conquer the aisles without breaking the bank.
Prepare before entering the store:
- Create a list full of nutrient-dense foods.
- Determine general food needs for breakfast, lunch and snacks.
- List four to five dinner ideas for the week and include ingredients you will need.
- Read ads for store specials and bring coupons if applicable.
- Do NOT shop when hungry. Impulse buying will get you every time.
- Include fun foods in moderation. Depriving yourself of ALL “treats” does not work.
Shop carefully in the store:
- Shop the perimeter first for staples (milk, bread, produce, meats, etc.).
- Compare prices amongst brands and package sizes for “unit cost.”
- Buy in bulk when unit price is cheaper.
- Replace staples when on sale.
- Get refrigerated and frozen foods last.
Put food away:
- Keep raw meats separated from other food items.
- Go directly home and store foods properly.
- Cut up necessary fruits and vegetables to ensure that they will be eaten before spoiling.
- When it comes to produce, bulk is not always better. Buy what you can eat. If convenience is important to you, choose pre-packaged options, such as baby carrots or bagged spinach. Longer shelf-life varieties include: apples, oranges, grapefruits, un-cut melons, carrots, celery and radishes. Be adventurous by frequently trying new varieties of produce. If you have children, let them pick out new colorful foods to try. The more colorful varieties tend to have the most nutrients.
- In the bread section, check out the label before buying. Look for the word WHOLE as the first word in the ingredient section. Next, go down to the fiber and determine the grams per serving. Typically a good choice is between 3 to 6 g of fiber per serving.
- Dairy choices should be a part of each grocery store experience to provide both calcium and protein to the diet. Remember, yogurt and milk varieties have the same nutrients. The only difference is the fat and calories. Skim milk and fat-free yogurt have the same amount of protein and calcium as whole milk and low-fat yogurt, but a lot less calories. Note: small children often need the added calories and fat provided by whole or 2% milk.
- There are typically two words to look for in the meat section, LOIN and ROUND. These words indicate a leaner cut of beef or pork. For poultry, choose more white meat and leave the skin off to save on calories and fat. Don’t forget fish choices rich in omega fatty acids. Salmon and tuna are the most popular high- omega choices.
Although I have given you a lot of information, take a deep breath and relax. Life-style changes can occur rather slowly. Make little changes that stick and eventually permanent health habits become simple.
Brooke Parker is a registered dietitian currently working for Utah State University. Her specialty is eating disorders. She is the author of Love Your Body: A Diet-Free Approach to Balanced Eating and Love Your Reflection, recently published by Leatherwood Press. Love Your Reflection focuses on the connection between a non-diet approach to eating and techniques for a positive body image. Brooke is a wife and mother of three. brookeparkerrd.com © 2010