Don’t we as parents always strive to serve our kids a variety of healthy foods? Our grocery shopping strategy is actually the most important step in this process. The items we put in our shopping cart week after week are the main determinants if we’re boosting our kids' health and giving them a nutritional punch or if we’re actually leading the path for unhealthy eating habits. But…It’s easier said than done with those tempting displays of tasty savories and sugary drinks in the loop!
Below are some tips to help you get through your supermarket journey in a healthy way:
- Make a list : Following a weekly meal planner can help you keep track and focus better on including wholesome, nutritious ingredients for your child on a daily basis such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and poultry, fresh fish, whole grains, and dairy products.
- Follow a Healthy Path in the Store : Focus your shopping on the store's outer aisles. These usually contain the healthiest foods: produce, dairy products, and fresh meat and fish. Next, move to the inner aisles, where you'll find important items like frozen fruits and vegetables, cereals, sauces, and baking supplies. By visiting the inner aisles later in your shopping trip, you reduce the chances that you'll overdo it on snacks and processed foods. When shopping for:
- Fruits and vegetables :
- Choose vegetables that look fresh and colorful. Most should be crisp and firm and avoid bruised pieces, but remember that a perfect exterior doesn't necessarily mean the best quality.
- Buy more fruits and vegetables that are good sources of fiber, including beans, peas, oranges, bananas, strawberries and apples.
- Stock up on raw vegetables for snacks such as carrot and celery sticks, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and cauliflower.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious, but frozen fruits and vegetables can be sometimes as nutritious and convenient while making sure they’re not packaged with extra salt, sugar and/or fat.
- Don’t buy lots of fruit juice. It doesn’t provide the fiber whole fruit does and it’s not as good at satisfying hunger.
- Dairy & Eggs :
- Select growing-up milk for your toddler and low-fat (2%) milk for the rest of the family.
- Avoid milk that contains added flavorings such as vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. They usually have added sugars and calories.
- Choose low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses.
- Stock up on protein-packed eggs; it’s a great nutritious choice if scrambled for breakfast or mixed with diced veggies for an omelet lunch. Low-fat yogurt is also a nutritious option for a snack.
- Meat, Poultry & Fish :
- Buy and prepare more fish. Salmon contains a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps power the brain and support the immune system of your toddler.
- Choose lemon juice and spices to eat with fish. Don’t add cream sauces.
- When choosing meats and poultry go for the lean red meat, turkey or skinless chicken.
- Grains & Baked Goods :
- Choose whole-grain, high-fiber breads, such as whole wheat bread. It’s perfect for toast and sandwiches, while whole wheat tortillas are great for dinner wraps. Brown pita bread is another good fiber-filled option; use it either as a base for individual pizzas or as a dipper for guacamole and hummus. Look for breads that list whole grains as the first item in the ingredient list.
- Brown rice and whole wheat pasta are full of fiber and are healthy options for every family member, so it shouldn’t be difficult to incorporate them into your child’s diet. Serve whole wheat pasta with steamed veggies. For picky eaters, add pureed veggies to your sauce. Versatile brown rice can be served with nearly anything. Use it as a foundation for chicken, salmon or veggies.
- Limit the amount of bakery products you purchase, including doughnuts, pies, cakes and cookies. Look into homemade baking instead.
- Fruits and vegetables :
Last but not least, always remember that:
- Food labels are a great way to learn how some foods are better for you than others.
- While shopping for food, check out the sell by dates to make sure they are current.
- Select your cold foods last so they’ll stay cold until you get home and prevent food illness.
- Storage is after all the most crucial step in making your grocery shopping strategy a successful healthy one!