Grocery shopping for a healthy diet
Once upon a time, only the ruling classes could get a hold of enough food to get fat. Today in America, being overweight or even obese has reached all levels of society. In a sense, it is the price of our generations-long quest for convenience. Now our society seems to be adjusting diets for healthy eating. Until the food industry stops making and selling unhealthy food, we need to develop habits of savvy grocery shopping.
At the grocery store, we can find prepared meals in the freezer section that need only be heated in the microwave or skillet. In the center of the store, we find condensed soups and other canned goods that require only heating. We also find boxes of various meals to prepare by doing nothing more than boiling whatever is in the box and adding hamburger or tuna. These are not meals for a healthy diet.
Such conveniences fill us with trans fats, too much salt and sugar, various preservatives, and other unpronounceable chemicals. In many cases, they do not actually save any time or effort over cooking from scratch. They are also very limited in variety. Fortunately, many easily accessible recipes exist for cooking tasty and healthy meals from scratch in less than half an hour.
The first step in grocery shopping for a healthy diet is to plan a weeks worth of meals. That does not necessarily mean you have to cook seven suppers every week. When you make casseroles or soups, cook enough to get at least two meals from it and give yourself a day off later.
With your menu planned for the week ahead, compare the ingredients you need with what you already have on hand. Make a list of what you must purchase and go to the store.
Generally speaking, the more time food spends in a factory, the less healthy it is. Do most of your grocery shopping at the periphery of the store: the produce, meat, seafood, and dairy departments. Here you will find the foods least fiddled around with.
Unless you plan to make, say, pasta sauces from fresh tomatoes, you cannot avoid the center of the store, where all the most processed foods reside. You can be selective in what you buy. Look for foods that fit into a healthy diet.
Read the labels. Different brands of tomato sauce, for example, have different amounts of added salt. In fact, be very suspicious of anything marked low fat. It probably has as many calories as the regular variety by replacing fat with sugar.
When I first moved out of my college dorm into an apartment, I could either keep eating dorm food or learn how to cook. TV dinners back then tasted much worse than they do now. My first steps were very tentative. I understand if you are nervous about the prospect of giving up conveniences to learn new shopping and cooking habits. You can do it. It's not that hard.
As for the grocery shopping, unless you have always simply loaded your cart with frozen meals, new shopping habits will not take any more of your time. You will just be spending less time than before in some parts of the store and more time in others. It will also not take you much more time than in the past to prepare your meals. You'll be eating a healthy diet, and possibly even spending less money.
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