And some of those unhealthy packaged foods manage to find their way into your grocery cart at such times, don’t they? However, if you aren’t growing your own food from scratch (and let’s be honest, most of us can’t!), then you need to be able to shop smart when it comes to groceries.
Bring A List
Start smart…bring a list, and then stick to it! You could also bring recipes you want to cook over the week and shop for the ingredients mentioned straight away. Remember – grocery stores are designed to encourage impulsive buying. Easy-to-cook meals and “comfort food” are often placed at eye-level and within easy reach. Without a list, it’s pretty hard to resist trying out that ‘Instant Muffin Mix’ or the new ‘Quick 5 Minute Pasta’ pack!
Head Straight For The Whole Foods Aisle
Whether you are buying staples like cereals, breads, pastas, meats or vegetables, choose whole foods. The higher the number of ingredients listed on the pack, the higher the risk for unhealthy ingredients. Look for foods high in fiber and free from preservatives and additives.
Choose Meats Wisely
Processed meats are way too high in fats and additives. Forget the frozen processed meat freezers and head to the fresh meat section. Ask for lean cuts of meats – be it chicken, lamb, fish or pork. If it’s in a packaged form – leave it behind.
You can always create your own freezer packs at home of the boneless chicken chunks, lamb steaks and fish fillets by stashing adequate portions into Ziploc pouches and freezing them. Use them as and when needed during the week.
Opt For Fresh Produce
Here is a simple rule to shop like a nutritionist — shop 70% of your groceries from the perimeter of the store. The perimeters stock fresh farm produce, dairy, meats etc. These large sections are spread out along the corners, giving the centre space to packaged, processed foods. If you are shopping in a hurry, head straight to the perimeter, fill your basket with healthy fresh foods, and head to the billing counter.
Read The Label…and then Read Again
This one doesn’t come as a surprise now. Most of us will end up buying packaged foods, because convenience is almost as important as health for our modern lifestyle. When you come home after a long, hectic day at work and don’t have energy to cook a nutritious meal from scratch, you should be able to find an easy-to-cook option in your pantry.
The key to choose smart is to read and then re-read the ingredients list to rule out as many unhealthy items as possible. Your ‘to-avoid’ list should include – artificial sweeteners, margarine, anything with the word ‘lite’ on it because low fat equals more sugar for most processed foods, and trans-fats.