Healthy Cooking Starts With Smart Shopping

Healthy eating is a way of life that you have to get used to. It’s hard to eat healthy if the food that you need is inconvenient to get. It’s important to have nutrient dense foods ready to cook, so eating a nutritious meal is as easy as driving through the fast food line.

If this is the first time that you have filled your pantry with healthy foods, you may need a course in Grocery Shopping 101 in order to beat back the temptations that food manufacturers have strategically placed in your path.

Before leaving home, make a grocery list. But before you make a grocery list, make the upcoming week’s meal plan. Developing your meal plan doesn’t have to be difficult, but consider some of the foods that are already in your cupboard to make things easier and less expensive. Once you’ve got your meals planned out for the week, inventory the ingredients that you will need for each dish and notate the ones that you will need to purchase. After you have established what you need, make the grocery list, and list the food in order of the grocery store layout. This way you won’t go haphazardly down aisles that you don’t need to search.

Try to avoid the aisles with cookies and processed foods, such as sugary cereals. Many of these aisles are in the center of the grocery store, with the fresh items at each end of the store. Look for whole grains near the rice and pasta. Read labels to look for 100% whole-wheat to be sure you are getting whole grain products. Take some time to find the healthier foods rather than going straight for your old reliables.

Fresh vegetables and fruits should make up the largest part of your grocery list. I recommend that you eat at least seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Choose seasonal produce and get a variety, especially if you are feeding a family.

Proteins and meats should consist of mostly fish, poultry and lean meats. Eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes should be part of your list.

Choose low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese. Try soymilk or rice-milk for tasty alternatives to whole milk. Don’t forget, many fruits and vegetables are good sources of calcium like avocadoes for instance.

Beverages should be kept simple. Water, low-fat milk, juices and herbal teas are all good choices. If you opt for soft drinks, choose diet sodas and soft drinks to avoid extra sugar.

Take caution when buying dressings, cooking oils and condiments. They can be sneaky sources of refined sugars and high in fat and calories. Read labels to choose dressings made with healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil.

Frozen vegetables are convenient and nutritious. If you are cooking for one, there are many single-serving frozen entrees that cook up in minutes. These make it easy to have a variety of vegetables, without having to throw any of it away. If you do have more than you can consume, consider saving your left over veggies to add to a soup for another meal.