How to Buy Healthy Foods at the Grocery Store

We all grocery shop many times a month.   Let’s talk grocery shopping tips at my table.  I want you to learn how to shop quickly and how to buy healthy foods at the grocery store.

I’ve talked about menu planning in past blogs, but if you are still hung up on menu planning, maybe you need some grocery shopping tips. Here are some grocery tips to help make your trip easier and come out with healthier foods.  Link to menu planning blog. If you have excluded a food group for a health reason I still have included all the areas of the grocery store.

How to buy healthy foods at the grocery store

How to buy Healthy Foods- Grocery Shopping Tips 

These tips are if you go into the store. Most of these will also work if you pick up or have your groceries delivered. 

  1. One thing to note is that you will be shopping most of the perimeter of the store.  All of the dairy foods, produce, bakery and meats are on the perimeter of the store.  These are the foods that are better for you or are less processed.   The middle aisles are usually boxed and canned foods and tend to be high in salt, sugar and fat, and chemicals. Yes, there are still things you need to buy there, but when you know this, you don’t have to go down every single aisle.
  2. Think whole foods when you are in the store. This will keep your list healthier.  
  3. Go to the store with a list and ensure you are not hungry.
  4. Make your grocery list in order of the store or departments. For Example- produce, dairy, meats, canned good, bakery, frozen, etc
  5. Go through any ads and coupons ahead and add items you want to purchase to your list.
  6. Some grocery stores employ dietitians so use them as a resource if you have questions. If they don’t have a dietitian, ask them to employ one. Here is a link to a few grocery stores- HyVee Grocery Stores, Kroger Foods, Food Lion, Aldi, Publix, Cub Foods.
How to buy healthy foods at the grocery store

Produce Shopping Tips

  1. In the fruit and veggie section select the best produce and know that some fruits or veggies don’t’ last as long. 
  2. Plan to eat ripened fruit in the next day or two.
  3. Eat a rainbow of colors for more nutrients. Fruits and Veggies should fill 50% of your plate.
How to buy healthy foods at the grocery store

Dairy Shopping Tips

  1. Check expiration dates of dairy– such as milk, and yogurt. If you won’t be eating or drinking it by the expiration date then don’t buy it.
  2. Low-fat, low-sugar dairy options are better choices.
  3. Greek yogurt has more protein as well as cottage cheese.
How to buy healthy foods at the grocery store

Bread and Cereal Shopping Tips

  1. Bread- look for whole grain, for 2-3 grams more of fiber.
  2.  Freeze your bread if you think it will go bad before eating it.  I always freeze bread and pull out a few servings when I need it.
  3. Avoid trans-fat bakery products like donuts and pastries. Anything that says hydrogenated or trans-fat is to be avoided.   
How to buy healthy foods at the grocery store

Healthy Meat Shopping Tips

  1. Meats– if there is a great sale on fresh or frozen meats- buy them and you can freeze them to use later.
  2. Stay away from processed meat – they are high in nitrates and you are at higher risk for cancer. (I buy bacon in moderation for my BLTs in BLT season.)
  3. Avoid marbled meats and high-sodium deli meats. Limit red meats in a week.
  4. Fresh Fish is good but expensive, so opt for frozen.
How to buy healthy foods at the grocery store

Dry Good Tips at the Grocery Store

  1. Dry goods should include rice, pasta, noodles, quinoa, barley, lentils, beans, etc. Remember they only make up 25% of your plate and aim for more fiber.  
  2. Canned goods can include tomatoes, sauces, beans, salmon, chicken, and tuna- aim for low sodium. Fresh is always better, but canned is better than none. Make your own soup or buy low-sodium soups.
  3. Read labels on items in the middle aisles of the store- avoid sugars, sodium, MSG, and unhealthy trans fats and oils.
  4. Avoid the chip and drink aisle which contains much sugar, fat, preservatives, and salt.
  5. If you want to eat healthily but quickly consider fresh or frozen veggies, sweet or regular potatoes, have fresh fruit or salads, and get fresh or frozen meats that are not breaded or deep fried.   Air fry, grill, or roast in the oven.

Cook once, Eat twice.   Cook, so you have leftovers to eat at a meal the next day.

Freeze any extra leftovers for a meal in the future.

When you get home from the Grocery Store

  1. Wash and pre-prep any fruits or veggies. You are more likely to eat it.
  2. Have a meal plan/menu for your food- it’s too valuable to waste.  See blogs on Menu planning one and part two for Ideas.
  3. If you won’t eat the food and it may spoil, freeze it. You can freeze, bananas, spinach, berries, blanched fresh veggies, cut-up onions and peppers, leftovers, bread, meats, broths, canned beans, or tomatoes you opened and didn’t use.  Here is a link to a Kitchen hack blog.

I hope this makes grocery shopping easy.  Knowing you can skip many aisles and be on your way to eating healthier and feeling good. How to buy healthy foods at the grocery store.

If you have any tips- leave them in the comments.

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