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4. Next, Shop the Dairy Case

Most everyone needs three servings a day of low-fat or fat-free dairy.

From yogurt to cheese, dairy is the best source of dietary calcium and vitamin D – two nutrients that most Americans don’t get enough of.

Don’t forget: Low-calorie yogurts make a great mid-morning snack or after-dinner treat.

5. Turn to the Meat, Fish, and Poultry Aisle

Think of meat as a side dish. “Save money and calories by purchasing less meat because you only need a small portion equivalent to the palm of your hand,” says Neville.

Choose lean meats, skinless poultry, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish each week for heart health.

6. Make a Quick Stop for Whole Grain Breads and Rolls

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend half your grains be whole grain. That doesn’t mean you have to give up white bread, says Neville. “White whole wheat” is fine as long as you keep trying to encourage your family to move toward heartier 100% whole grains. 

The same advice holds when choosing cereals and pasta. Look for blends of whole-wheat pasta and bran or high-fiber cereal.

For the occasional treat, pick up some whole grain blueberry muffins or baked sweet.

7. Then Head for the Grocery Store Center Aisles

Stock your cart with whole grain cereals, crackers, brown rice, and any other whole grains your family will enjoy.  Toss in canned and dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas, which are all excellent sources of protein and fiber without any fat. 

Canned foods tend to be high in sodium, so buy reduced-sodium or no-added-salt versions. You can reduce the sodium content of canned beans by as much as 40% by thoroughly rinsing the beans.  When choosing canned fruits, select ones packed in fruit juice instead of syrup to save calories.

Other nutritious center-store foods include nut butters, 100% fruit juice, and healthy snacks such as popcorn, nuts, and dried fruit.

 “There is a misconception that healthy foods are only on the perimeter of the grocery store, but that is false,” says Neville. “The interior aisles are brimming with many healthy choices alongside the not-so-healthy ones.”