Deciding which foods to serve your family each week can be hard, especially if you are on a tight budget. There are so many choices at the store that decisions are often based on what we see in front of us, rather than on a plan for making healthier choices.
Creating a healthier food plan depends on what foods are in season, what foods your family likes, and what foods you have at home already. You can also plan around sale items. Not only will you make more informed choices, but you may also be able to save money and time. Also, eating healthier foods in moderate portions and saving leftovers will help trim your budget and waistline by eating fewer calories at one time. In recognition of National Nutrition Month, the registered dietitans at Delta County Memorial Hospital offer the following suggestions for healthier eating:
Make a plan and stick to it. With a little planning, you can get most of your groceries for the week in one trip, which will save a lot of time. And, the fewer trips to the store, the less likely you will be to buy unnecessary items.
Review store ads and clip coupons for healthier items such as skinless chicken breasts, lean cuts of meat or ground beef, fruit (fresh, frozen, or canned in its own juice), vegetables (fresh, frozen without added fat, or canned without added sodium), whole grain breads and cereals, and low fat or fat free milk and milk products.
Check your cupboards and refrigerator for items that you can use and then plan to use them.
Check out heart healthy recipes.
Don't shop hungry. If you shop when you are hungry, you are more likely to buy more than you need and possibly buy less healthy items that appeal to you at that moment.
Try to go grocery shopping without children. Stores put foods that many children like such as candy and sugary cereal where they can see and reach them. These foods are often advertised with characters that appeal to children. If you must bring children, grocery shopping can be a great way to teach them about food and nutrition (and colors, math and reading).
Grocery Shopping Tips
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Try store brands. The most costly brands are typically placed at eye level. Store brands that may be cheaper and are just as good are often placed higher or lower on the shelf.
Comparison shop for healthier brands. Read the nutrition facts label. Learn how to find serving sizes and the per serving amounts of calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugars, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Use the unit price and the Nutrition Facts Label to compare similar foods. The unit price tells you the cost per ounce, pound or pint, so you'll know which brand and size are best to buy. Look for it on the shelf sticker below the product. "Then, read the Nutrition Facts Label to be sure that you are getting the healthiest option at the lowest cost," says Ray Jensen RD, Delta County Memorial Hospital registered dietitian.
No matter what the form — fresh, frozen, canned, dried, juice — all varieties of fruits and vegetables count toward your daily recommendation. Choose fruits without added sugar or syrups and vegetables without added salt, butter or cream sauces. Although 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice counts towards your daily recommendation, the majority of the total daily amount of fruit and vegetables should come from whole fruits and vegetables to help you get enough fiber.
Buy in-season fruits and vegetables. Use local farmer's markets when possible — the foods are fresher and usually cost the same, if not less, because you are buying direct from the farmer.
Buy milk (low fat or fat free) in the largest containers you can handle before it spoils (gallon or 1⁄2 gallon). Milk sold at convenience stores usually costs more than at supermarkets. (Fat-free dry milk is an inexpensive back-up choice for using milk in recipes.)
Buy a whole chicken and cut it up into parts instead of buying pre-cut chicken (breast, wings, thighs, legs). Remove the skin before cooking or serving.
Stock up on sale items of healthier foods that you may be able to use in a timely manner. Buy canned, frozen, or packaged foods in bulk for quality and value, but serve appropriate portions within estimated calorie needs. Buy produce, lean meats and low fat milk and milk products in bulk amounts that you can eat before they spoil.
Use your food budget wisely. If you spend $7 on lunch five days a week for a year, you will spend a total of $1,820. You can save money and calories by bringing a healthier brown bag lunch.
Source: National Institutes of Healthblog comments powered by Disqus