Grocery Shopping Made Easy
Do you find grocery shopping cumbersome, confusing, and time consuming? With the average supermarket being nearly the size of a football field, shopping without a strategy may cause you to see, grab, and go. Then, you get home and realize that you spent a lot of money, but didn’t get the foods you need to put a healthy meal together.
“Diabetes Forecast Magazine” offers a four-step plan that can help take the stress out of grocery shopping while helping you get tasty and healthy meals on the table:
Step #1: Start with a list. Before you even step foot in the grocery store, jot down a few days’ worth of dinners and determine all the ingredients you’ll need. Take a quick inventory of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. If you don’t have the basics for speedy breakfasts, snacks, and lunches, add them to your list. Build your list around the ingredients you already have. Pen and paper make a fine list, but most smartphones have a note-taking function to keep a running tally of the foods you purchase. There are also apps, such as ChefTap to create a shopping list from your favorite recipes.
Step #2:With your list in hand, you’re almost ready to head to the grocery store, but before you leave, consider the timing. Shopping on an empty stomach makes you more likely to nibble on in-store samples or grab a bag of chips or a candy bar at the checkout counter. Do your grocery shopping after a meal or snack. Knowing the layout of the store is helpful.
Shopping the perishable department last is a best practice so the foods are more likely to remain at a safe temperature. The old adage ‘shop the perimeter’ is not necessarily the healthiest, because better-for-you foods are available in all departments. Finally, don’t forget to check the store’s sales ads for coupons and specials. These can save you some money.
Step #3: Shop from the inside out. Karen Ansel, registered dietitian for “Diabetes Forecast Magazine”, recommends temporarily bypassing the perimeter and making your way through the heart of the store, shopping only the aisles that have food on your list. Healthier foods tend to be located on higher shelves rather than at eye level. A second clue comes from reading the food labels. Focus on minimally processed foods such as whole grain products, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, unsweetened cereals, olive and canola oils, no-salt-added canned veggies, tuna packed in water, and natural nut butters.
The frozen food aisle is often misunderstood. Yes, it contains frozen pizza, ice cream, garlic bread, and pre-packaged dinners, but you’ll find several foods that simplify healthy eating. No-sauce-added frozen vegetables and frozen fruits are good choices. Preparing fresh ingredients may feel like a time-consuming chore, making you less likely to eat them, but frozen fruits and vegetables are fast and easy. Because they are picked at the peak of freshness and flash frozen, they can be nutritious and not spoil like fresh produce.
Step #4: Avoid hidden traps. One of the biggest obstacles to healthy grocery shopping is food that looks nutritious but isn’t. Example: granola. Made of whole grains, granola sounds like a good cereal choice, but the fine print says that a half-cup serving can have 41 grams of carbohydrate, 14 grams of sugar (thanks to added honey, brown sugar, and dried fruit.) Yogurt is another example. Buy plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit sparingly for a healthier choice.
Salad bars in the deli can be misleading. Pasta salad, bacon bits, fried chicken strips, and potato salad often hang out here. Skip those and look for fresh veggies and low-sodium lean turkey and chicken. “Low-carb” foods can also be misleading. Zero in on total carbs, and not so much on “net carbs,” or “impact carbs.” “Sugar-free” items are a trap for many who are trying to control their blood sugar. A sugar-free cookie may still have 20 grams of carbohydrates. Many of these products contain sugar alcohols which can cause gas, bloating, or diarrhea. So focus on whole minimally processed foods – fresh fruit, low-fat Greek yogurt, or air-popped popcorn.
You can also think outside the supermarket. Online grocery shopping is becoming more popular. Whether you are a busy mom, don’t drive, or have difficulty lifting groceries, shopping online is an easy way to fill your kitchen with nutritious foods. Look for services that allow you to purchase by the item, not the pound. And opt for sturdy fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, broccoli, and carrots which are less likely to bruise in transit.
Last call for Twogether in Texas
The date for the next Twogether in Texas marriage education workshop is quickly approaching. If you or someone you know will be saying “I do!” in 2020, this is the perfect event to keep your relationship on strong footing.
When: Saturday, February 8
Where: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hopkins County office, 1200 W. Houston, Sulphur Springs
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. – lunch and refreshments provided
Call: 903-885-3443 to reserve seats
Topics: marriage expectations, communication, conflict resolution, money management, and goal setting
Engaged couples will receive a certificate to save $60 upon applying for a marriage license – that’s an added bonus!
Be wise – look beyond outward stuff and look for potential – Steven Covey, “Seven Habits of High Effective Parents”
Article by Johanna Hicks, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Family & Community Health Agent