Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Strategic Grocery Shopping

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Healthy eating starts at your home, but in order to ensure that your home will be stocked with nutritious food you need to first learn how to shop strategically in the grocery store!

Grocery shopping can be pretty overwhelming. With the never-ending choices, confusing health claims, and abundance of processed foods, picking the best choices for you and your family can be a challenge. Here are a few tips on how to make your grocery shopping experience fun and more effective.

Plan Ahead

Before even heading to the grocery store consider these ideas:

  • Make a list of the foods that you need so that you are less likely to stray. Think about what meals you want to make for the week, and buy foods according to your plan.
  • Bring coupons for only the foods that you need so that you stay on track and spend less.
  • Avoid grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Shopping on an empty stomach can lead to overspending!

Shop the Perimeter

The perimeter of the store is where you’ll find fresh, healthy staples including fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and dairy. But beware, there are still some indulgent foods lurking in these areas. To choose the best options consider the following:

  • Produce: Purchase fresh, whole fruits, vegetables, and salad mixes
  • Meat, Fish & Poultry: Choose lean meats such as turkey, chicken and fish. Limit purchasing high fat, red meats.
  • Dairy: Choose low-fat or skim dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt & sour cream. Also try healthy alternatives to butter such as Smart Balance or Earth Balance.
  • Grains: Choose whole grain breads, tortillas, and pastas. Make sure the first ingredient reads whole wheat, instead of enriched white grain. This ensures that the product is actually a whole grain. 

Choose Wisely

For the rest of your groceries, be smart about your choices! Avoid foods that claim to be healthy and opt for products that are naturally good for you.

  • Freezer Aisle: Opt for low sodium, natural foods. Choose frozen fruit and vegetables with nothing added to them, and if you’re looking for frozen meals try brands such as Healthy Choice, Kashi, or Amy’s Organic for tasty meals with nutritional benefit.
  • Canned foods: Choose fruits and vegetables packed in light syrup or their own juice. Focus on nutrition by stocking up on low-sodium canned products (look for the label “No Salt Added”), as well as beans, which are high in fiber and nutrients.
  • Aim for health: Choose products that are either high in protein or fiber to nourish your body and sustain your feeling of being full. Avoid foods that have long ingredient lists or artificial ingredients.
  • Portion control: If you are a grazer, buy already portioned snacks such as nuts, popcorn, and your other favorite treats.

Happy shopping!

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Nutrition , Quick and Healthy , Restaurant Nutrition , Whole Grains

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MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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