HEALTHY FOODS AND HOPPING SMART for family groceries
A new way of grocery shopping that will help you choose healthy foods!
The grocery store can feel like a foreign country when you are trying to eat healthier.
Learning your way around the healthy options is easier than you think. You could probably find the soda, frozen pizza and packaged cookies with your eyes closed. But mapping out the nutritious, fresh foods is simple, too.
Spend less time in the middle of the store, looking through row upon row of processed foods. Instead, allocate most of your time and money on the outer aisles, where the gems like fresh fruits and vegetables are kept.
Yes, many of the foods that are the best choices for healthy eaters are on the perimeter of the store. That includes produce, dairy and the butcher section, with its array of fresh meat and fish.
Getting to know these parts of the store is beneficial because many of your meals can follow this formula: choose your protein, then add vegetables, fruit and a whole grain to make a meal. You are still need to go to the middle of the store for pasta, rice, frozen foods and other items. But avoid the big sections of processed foods like chips, meals in a box or a can, cookies and candy that beckoned to you in the past.
It is tempting to blame your busy lifestyle for preventing you from having the time to shop for healthy foods. But it does not take any longer to shop for healthy foods than it does for unhealthy ones. Save yourself some time at the grocery store by planning your meals and writing out grocery lists. You are save time in the kitchen, too, because you won’t be staring into your refrigerator, wondering what to make for dinner.
Shopping healthy is all about choosing the right foods for your meal plan: lean, unprocessed meat and fish, high-quality fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Eating healthy means taking these basic starters and preparing them for your family without adding unnecessary fat and calories.
ABOUT PRODUCE. HEALTHY FOODS
When it comes to good-for-you staples, fresh produce is best, followed closely by frozen fruits or vegetables. Canned products are a distant third.
Spend a lot of time in the fresh produce section and get to know your naturally healthy foods. You recognize your old favorite carrots, celery, potatoes, but what about jicama? Or kale? Your new favorite food could be right in front of you, and you don’t even know it yet!
Trying new produce is one of the fun parts of healthy eating. Give yourself the goal of trying a new fruit or vegetable every week. Have your family members take turns at picking a new fresh food, and try it together. If you like it, find a way to incorporate it into your meals.
The produce manager can explain individual produce items and how they are best prepared. Ask questions; these folks like to share their knowledge, but make sure to ask for healthy ways to make your newfound favorites.
Fresh produce is even fresher at the farmers market. If there are one near you, get there early so you are guaranteed the best selection. Talk to the farmers who grow the produce you are buying. They are used to eating what they grow, so they often have simple recipes and healthy preparation tips to share.
ABOUT MEAT & FISH. HEALTHY FOODS
When you are at the meat counter, avoid processed meats like sausage. They are often made with high-fat ingredients and a number of additives. Instead, look for fresh chicken and turkey with the occasional lean cuts of beef and pork.
When buying your chicken or turkey, either buy skinless or remove the skin and fat at home so your pieces are lean. The breast is leanest. When buying ground turkey, make sure it is ground breast, not turkey pieces; those pieces can include skin and have as much fat as regular ground beef!
Look for firm meat that smells and looks fresh with no off-color areas. Read the packages to make sure your meat wasn’t injected with water, flavorings or preservatives. And if you are buying fish, choose fresh, firm fish that does not smell fishy. It is OK to ask when it was delivered to the store. If the fresh fish looks or smells iffy, go for frozen seafood instead.
KNOWING THE INS & OUTS. HEALTHY FOODS
While sticking to the perimeter of the store can help you pick healthy items, you will need to venture into the aisles for some packaged and canned foods. When choosing these foods, get into the habit of checking Nutrition Facts labels.
Look for foods that don’t get many of their calories from fat, and aim for items that are low in saturated fat. Consider non-fat or low-fat options at the dairy case. When the carbohydrate total on the label is more than twice the amount of sugar, the food is usually loaded with complex carbohydrates that are good for you. Consider making these items a part of your family is weekly menu plan.
Many items found in the deli or bakery, however, are not required to provide nutrition facts. Luckily, many of today supermarkets make this information available upon request. When in doubt, ask. You would be surprised at how often nutrition information is available.
Here is another important tip for successful healthy shopping: Don’t go to the grocery store when you are hungry. And if your kids are looking for a snack, this may not be the best time to bring them you are hungry. And if your kids are looking for a snack, this may not be the best time to bring them along. You will be tempted to give in to instant gratification (junk food), and you won’t stick to your healthy eating plan either. Eat something substantial and satisfying before you leave the house.
And finally, the best shopping advice: if it is not good for you, simply don’t put it in your cart. That way you can’t take it home and eat it!
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