Your Guide to Healthy Supermarket Shopping

People potentially make over 200 decisions each day about food. These day-to-day food choices figure as a potential factor in our health.

There is no clear menu or recipe option that can satisfy every individual palate--nor can we always eat as planned--but allowing for flexibility and creativity is a part of making healthy food choices.

If you are open and willing to integrate new items into your meals, your creativity can make the kitchen a place where works of art come alive.

There are over 47,000 products found in a supermarket. The key to grocery shopping is to enter with a P-L-A-N. When we arm ourselves with the proper tools this "chore" can become an exciting adventure.

Whether we seek a quick dinner, a pantry full of groceries, or fresh produce, chances are any supermarket can supply this service.

Here are a few tips on how to navigate your supermarket:

  1. Go with a plan. Planning is the most essential step in preparing meals efficiently. Make a list of meal ideas for the upcoming week. Keep in mind the days you'll have time to cook from scratch and the days you'll be pressed for time
  2. Shop the perimeter of the store where the freshest items are found, these include fruits, vegetables, dairy, fresh bread and lean proteins.
  3. To save time in the market, group foods on your list to match the store's layout.
  4. Before shopping, have a snack. Never shop hungry.
  5. Choose a time to shop when you have time to read labels and compare prices.
  6. Pick up a new fruit or vegetable each week.
  7. Save money by shopping for the store's own brands. The most costly brands are often placed at eye-level. Store brands that may be cheaper and just as good are often placed higher or lower on the grocery shelves.
  8. Choose foods which are processed minimally. Do not purchase products that contain high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, sugar, alcohols, preservatives or artificial colors.
  9. Lower your carbon footprint and bring a re-usable shopping bag.
  10. Make the most out of your efforts by purchasing foods in bulk; store the remaining amounts in appropriate portion-size containers.
  11. Rely on frozen fruits and vegetables, especially in the winter months. They are a healthy choice because they are flash-frozen immediately after harvest and will last longer.
  12. Don't be afraid to supplement your main dish with some gently-prepared foods. For example, pre-cooked rotisserie or grilled chicken, whole grain ready-made pizza crusts, frozen stir-fry vegetables, fresh whole grain pasta, colorful salads and side dishes from a natural foods market.
  13. Use the recipes found on the back of some packages for ideas. Many of these recipes are developed with speed in mind.
  14. Slow cookers work well for getting a meal on the table in no time. Just toss the ingredients in the cooker in the morning, and a warm dinner is ready when you get home.
  15. Eat mindfully. Give full attention to your meal and savor each bite. Chew your food thoroughly and avoid eating on the run. Being mindful also means stopping before you are full. Eating mindfully creates relaxation. You will digest better, and feel more satisfied.
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