It's amazing how often we go to the store armed with a healthy grocery shopping list and immediately get lost in the choices. Many of us visit the store with the best intentions, but all logic flies out the window when faced with complicated sale prices and the allure of attractive displays at the end of each aisle begging for attention.
When the allure of the impulse buy beckons, it helps to arm yourself with a list of rules to follow to keep your family on a healthier track and keep your budget in line, too.
10 tips for a healthy grocery shopping list
- Keep it fresh: Shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store, since that's where all the fresh food is.
- Just say no to TV dinners: Frozen meals may be convenient, but they aren't usually cost-effective, filling, healthful, or satisfying. Looking for a good ready-to-eat frozen solution? Pair filled pastas like ravioli or cavatelli found in your grocer's freezer with frozen vegetables you can steam in the bag and your favorite sauce for a meal the whole family can enjoy at a fraction of the cost anda much lower sodium content.
- Say yes to frozen veggies: Embrace the power of frozen vegetables and buy them when they're on sale for $1 a bag. Frozen vegetables with no added ingredients have all the benefits of fresh but they last longer and are a fraction of the cost.
- Beware of "diet" foods: Stay away from anything labeled "diet" which may have lots of chemical additives. Instead, opt for items labeled "low sodium" and"no added sugar" for a real health benefit.
- The 5-ingredient rule: Challenge yourself to buy as many items as possible that have fewer than 5 ingredients.
- Shop what's in season: Buy fruits and vegetables when they're on sale - that is when they are most plentiful and in season. These items will be less likely to be hot house-grown and will be fresher and more nutritious.
- The rule of half: Check your grocery list. If half the food you bring home is either a fruit or a vegetable, you're on the right track!
- Keep an eye on sugar content: Children should have only 12-25 grams (3-6 teaspoons) of sugars a day, which isn't a lot considering how much sugar is added to almost every prepared food you buy. While most sweet foods like yogurt, pastries, cereal,and energy bars obviously contain added sugar, it's also hidden in many savory foods as well. Most brands of tomato sauce, salad dressing, bread, and ketchup have some type of sugar. Opt for brands with a lower sugar content, or try your hand at making your own versions at home.
- Kick the soda habit: Try fruit-flavored seltzers instead. Some come lightly sweetened if seltzer is too plain for your family.
- Try something new once a week: Introduce your family to one new healthy alternative every week. Try enriched or whole wheat pasta, country wheat bread, dragon fruit, frozen pureed acai, or swap out added sugar with agave nectar for a tasty new take on delicious, healthy foods.