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Healthy Grocery Shopping Ideas

Updated on January 17, 2014
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The most important factor in living a healthy life is to eat a well-balanced diet, but many people feel overwhelmed when it comes to grocery shopping. Follow these guidelines to have a successful trip to the grocery store.

Make A List

Having a list ready when you get to the store will save you time and prevent you from making impulse buys. Try to have a rough idea of your meals for the next week; this will be helpful when adding items. When making your grocery list try to put items into categories such as produce and fruits, dairy, frozen foods, meats, and grains. This will allow you to work from one side of the store to the other instead of running back and forth.

Shop the Perimeter of the Store

The majority of your shopping should be done on the outer aisles of the store. This is typically where the fresh and perishable food is kept. Avoiding the middle aisles as much as possible will reduce the temptation to pick up that junk food. Also take note of the food near the cash registers and at the end of aisles. While you probably cannot completely avoid these, try to be aware of them and do not mindlessly put them in your cart.

Buy Small and Often

While it would be nice to be able to go grocery shopping every other week, or even once a week, that is not possible when shopping for perishable foods. When buying meats, fruits, vegetables, etc. try not to buy more than you can eat in the next few days. Many of the healthiest foods have a short shelf life, so plan ahead to avoid waste.

Read the Labels

Be sure to read the nutrition labels when buying new items. Don't be fooled by products labeled as "low-fat" or "fat-free". Often these foods replace the fats with sugar. Try to choose foods with higher levels of dietary fiber, calcium, protein, and Vitamin D, and lower levels of saturated fats, sodium, cholesterol and sugar. (Note: Fruit can be very high in sugar, however as it is naturally occurring it is not as damaging to you as added sugars).

Also check the ingredient list. The items are listed in order of concentration, with the first item being the most present. Avoid the following ingredients if you can: artificial sweeteners (splenda, sucralose, sorbitol, etc.), high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavorings and colors, and benzoate preservatives.

Example Grocery List

Vegetables

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Carrots

Fruits

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Grapefruits
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

Frozen Food

  • Fish Fillets (Salmon, Tilapia, etc.)
  • Mixed Berries
  • Vegetables
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Low-Calorie Ice Cream Snacks

Meats

  • Chicken Breast
  • Fish
  • Lean Beef
  • Sliced Turkey and Ham (buy this fresh from the deli, not pre-packaged)
  • Seafood

Grains

  • Whole Grain, Whole Wheat Bread
  • Whole Grain, Whole Wheat English Muffins
  • Whole Grain Pasta
  • Old Fashioned Oatmeal
  • Whole Grain Cereal

Dairy/Eggs

  • Cheese (try Laughing Cow cheese wedges)
  • Yogurt (especially Greek Yogurt)
  • Eggs
  • Egg Whites
  • Butter Substitute

Canned Food

  • Tuna
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Beans

Miscellaneous

  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Cinnamon
  • Salad Dressings
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews, etc.)

These are just some broad guidelines to get the most out of your trip to the grocery store. For more information regarding nutrition refer to the resources below.

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