Once a month, go for the big one.
Costello suggests doing a monthly grocery shopping to stock up on basic staples such as pasta, rice, cereal, tomato sauce, flour, etc. “If you keep an ample supply of these things, other food shopping trips can be the quick, on-the-way-home stops where you just pick up some fresh items,” she says.
Know what you want and go for it.
This is a good mantra for life and for grocery shopping. Stock your kitchen with the following easy-to-find foods that are good for you, too. Once you’ve found them the first time, you will be able to grab them with ease on subsequent food shopping trips:
- Foods that display the American Heart Association’s heart-check mark; you can rest assured that they are heart-healthy.
- Grain products that contain 100% whole grain flour and/or whole grains foods. Look for the Whole Grain Council Whole Grain Stamp on Items with three grams of fat or less per serving. This stamp indicates a “low in saturated fat and cholesterol” product.
- Products with zero grams trans fat
- Fat-free (skim) or low fat (1%) milk
- Cheeses labeled as fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat.
Know when to do your food shopping.
Right after work, supermarkets are crowded with people who are hungry and frazzled. Avoid grocery shopping at these times. On the days when you have no choice but to shop at rush hour, put yourself in the right frame of mind. If you have to shop during these times, allow more than 10 minutes to find what you need. Eat a protein-rich snack like peanuts to avoid mindless purchases.
Think “quick and healthy” when you shop.
For meals that are both fast and nutritious, Bland suggests picking up and preparing the following:
- A tuna ‘kit’ served with a piece of fruit or some raw vegetables
- Canned chicken breast or albacore tuna with light mayo spooned into half of a whole wheat pita pocket with your favorite veggies
- An entrée salad made with leftover lean protein like chicken or tuna, served with low-fat salad dressing or salsa
- A veggie burger on 100% whole grain bread
Hungry but don’t have time for a full meal?
Try these healthy snack options, as Bland recommends:
- Dried fruits, such as raisins, pitted plums and apricots
- Part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks or low-fat cheese with whole wheat crackers
- Granola bar or protein bar
- Soy nuts
- Portable Greek yogurt (look for brands that are low in sugar and high in protein)
- Hummus with raw vegetables
- Low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit, dried fruit or salsa
Most importantly, give yourself a break on busy days.
Everyone has crazy evenings when food preparation is the last thing on their mind. “On these nights, forget the grocery list and pick up some pre-prepared food at the supermarket such as a roasted chicken or some items from the salad bar,” Costello says. Not only will you save time and energy, your family may welcome it as a treat.