If you are looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, one important step in your journey is to start cooking more at home. If you do so, this means one thing – YES, you have to go to the grocery store! Grocery shopping can be fun but can also be confusing for shoppers.
There are so many choices out there, so people need to know how to choose the right things. Remember, you are aiming to select food items that are good for you and for your entire family. Also, eating at home is often cheaper than eating out.
Here are 15 important healthy shopping tips to take with you to the grocery store:
#1: Plan ahead.
It helps to know exactly what you want to buy, both from the viewpoint of saving money and sticking to your nutrition plan.
- plan your meals for the week
- create a shopping list
- clip coupons to save money.
This way, you’ll avoid spending money on items you don’t need or want, or ending up with unhealthy foodstuffs in your pantry.
#2: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
This is where fresh foods like fruits and vegetables as well as meats/fish/eggs are found. Try to focus on these areas rather than the center aisles full of canned and highly-processed foods. Limit the amount of time you spend in the center aisles – this is where less nutritious foods are found (chips, soda, high sugar snack foods, candy, cereals). Spend most of your time in this section!
#3: Learn to read labels.
By reading the labels on items, you’ll be able to skip high-calorie foods and choose ‘real’ foods that contain fewer preservatives. Look for foods that contain 5 ingredients or less, and avoid those that have long lists of ingredients or any that you can’t pronounce. Watch out for food items that are targeted at children as they are often higher in unhealthy ingredients, such as added sugars.
#4: Buy fresh foods.
Select fresh produce over processed whenever you can – generally the fresher the foods, the more nutritious they are. Choose a variety of colors and shapes, to get the highest benefit from nutrients. Also buy frozen if you can’t find fresh, instead of canned, dried or processed.
#5: Buy local.
Try to buy organic and local food whenever possible. This helps to support the farmers from your community, ensure fresh produce, and decrease your carbon footprint.
#6: Choose whole grains.
When it comes to breads, pastas, rice and cereals, pick whole grain products over refined ones. Aim for brands that contain at least 4 grams of fiber per serving.
#7: Pick your proteins.
- Meat and poultry: choose lean cuts of meat (ex. round, top sirloin, tenderloin) and skinless poultry. Go for meats without added breading and sauces.
- Fish and shellfish: aim for one or two servings per week at minimum. Look for produce that’s high in healthy fats such as Omega 3 oils.
- Dairy products: choose low-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt options to help keep your cholesterol in check.
#8: Canned and dried goods.
Select a variety of canned fruits and vegetables so you can add them to recipes (soups, salads, pasta dishes). Choose canned fruit packed in water and canned vegetables without added salt. Buy beans for a nutritious, meatless meal.
Famous Last Words
One final tip is to remember is not to shop when you are hungry. You are more likely to purchase food items that are not as healthy for you. Eat a light snack before you go.
Healthy shopping habits will help to avoid or manage your weight. Click here to learn more about Understanding Obesity.