Grocery shopping can be challenging but don’t let the aisles overwhelm you! Planning ahead and knowing what to look for can help you choose more healthful options. Whether you’re an experienced shopper or a first-year student preparing to move out of the dorms next year, here are some tips to help you stick with good nutrition at the grocery store:
- Stick to a list. By having a list, you can be assured you won’t forget anything. Also, you’re less prone to impulse purchases. Often these can be products you would not nor-mally buy and may not fit with your healthy eating goals.
- Avoid going to the store hungry. You may have heard it a million times, but it’s true. When going to the grocery store hungry, you may be more likely to make those im-pulse buys! Be sure to have a snack or a meal before heading to the store.
- Produce. When shopping at the produce section, choose a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Each color of produce reflects different vitamin and minerals that your body needs to function properly! Diversify!
- Whole grains. Foods made from whole grains are rich in nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, and minerals that are important for proper bowel function and metabolism to help the body release energy from foods! Look for 100% whole grain products and make sure that whole grain is the first ingredient.
- Fiber. Dietary fiber can help reduce constipation and your risk for heart disease, obesity and type-2 diabetes. Foods high in fiber include whole grains (e.g. 100% whole wheat bread or brown rice), beans, nuts, whole fruits and vegetables.
- Fish. Most fish provide a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your risk for heart disease. Cost cutting tip – look for fish labeled for quick sale. Often it is half-off with a “use-by date very soon” label. Either eat it or freeze it!
- Meat. Lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry are the meats lowest in saturated fat. Ex-amples include, top sirloin steak, eye of round roast, and pork tenderloin.
- Plant-based protein. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based proteins. This includes beans, soy products (tofu or soymilk), seitan (made from wheat), nuts and seeds. Plant-based proteins also offers a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to meats and animal-based products.
- Dairy. Milk and dairy products provide a great source of calcium and vitamin D. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. For those who are lactose intolerant, lactose-free dairy products and calcium-fortified soy milk are also available alternatives.
- Don’t let frozen fool you. Frozen fruits and vegetables have the same nutrient content as their fresh counterparts. By storing them in the freezer, they can even last longer. If you have extra space in your freezer, a larger package can be a cheaper and more cost-effective option.
- “Real” foods. Choose foods that are minimally processed and made with little to no additives. Navigation tip – shop around the perimeter of the grocery store where most fresh and wholesome foods can be found! Reach for whole fruits and vegetables and 100% whole-grain products.
Use these tips to help you plan what you need and make your next trip to the grocery store a successful one!
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