Good nutrition starts with the smart choices you make when shopping at the supermarket. We’ve compiled a list of 15 tips that will help you shop in a healthy way and make healthy food choices.
Make a list. The process begins even before you step into the supermarket, so make sure you plan your meals and make a list of the items you need to buy.
Never shop hungry. Hitting the supermarket on an empty stomach often results in impulse purchases that may not be the healthiest food options.
Shop the perimeter of the store. That is where fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish are usually located. Avoid the center aisles where junk foods hide waiting to lure you in.
Check the date. Before rushing and taking any pack off the shelf, make sure to check the date, especially for chilled or frozen items. If you see a ‘use-by’ date, that is the date by which a product should be consumed; if it says ‘best before’, that is the date until which the food will remain at its best quality.
Buy fresh or frozen vegetables. Avoid canned and pickled vegetables as they tend to be high in added salt.
Go for the low-fat option. Choose low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and salad dressings.
Opt for ‘skin off’. Chicken skin contains lots of calories and saturated fat, so skinless chicken breasts are your healthier choice.
Buy leaner cuts of meat. This helps control the amount of saturated fat you consume. If you’re sure which cut to choose, look for the Heart Foundation tick of approval on the packaging.
Beware of salt hidden in processed meats. Salami, bacon, hot dog, corned beef and chicken loaf shouldn’t be regular items in your shopping cart.
Look for good deals. Stock up on non-perishable ingredients such as dried pasta and dried vegetables when there’s a good deal for them. They usually have a long shelf life and can be stored in your pantry for regular use.
Some things are worth the extra cost. Pre-cut carrots and similar items are worth paying for, especially that they help you limit portion size and make healthy snack options for your lunchbox or that of your kids.
Avoid foods that contain more than five ingredients. The simpler, the better. If food has artificial ingredients or ingredients you can’t even pronounce, keep it on the shelf.
Avoid foods with cartoons on the label. If you don’t want your kids eating junk, don’t have it in the house.
Avoid foodborne illnesses. Start by choosing non-perishable items then choose your dairy products, meat, chicken, fish, and eggs. Go home immediately; bacteria multiply fast when food is left at room temperature. Avoid keeping food outside the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.
Limit ready-made meals and convenience food. They are high in fat and salt. They are expensive. Even worse, they leave you hungry a few hours after you eat them.
Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian