Parents' Grocery Shopping Tips

You can still make healthy meals a habit even with the busy pace of parenting.

It boils down to three tips:

One of the best ways to check all those boxes? Cook meals at home more often. Reach for the foods that don't come with a long nutrition label, such as broccoli, spinach, apples, brown rice, whole grains, fresh fish, nuts, or beans.

It all starts with what goes into your shopping cart.


Fiber fills you up and is good for digestion, blood sugar levels, heart health, and to keep weight in check. You'll find it in plant-based foods such as:

  • Vegetables (fresh, frozen, and canned)
  • Fruits (fresh, frozen, and canned)
  • Beans (dried, canned)
  • Edamame (soybeans, fresh or frozen)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole-grain cereal (hot and cold)
  • 100% whole wheat or whole-grain bread products
  • Whole-grain blend pastas
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Whole wheat tortillas


Many kids don't get enough of this nutrient, which they need for healthy nerves, muscles, and water balance.

Good sources of potassium include:

  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupes
  • Leafy green vegetables (such as beet greens, Swiss chard, and broccoli)
  • Orange juice
  • Prunes and prune juice
  • Papayas
  • Potatoes with skin
  • Tomatoes
  • Beans and peas, including lima beans
  • Fish, shellfish, and clams
  • Low-fat and fat-free dairy
  • Nuts (including almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, soy nuts, and pistachios)


Include lean protein in almost every meal your kids eat. Good sources include:

  • Eggs
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Fish
  • Lean meat
  • Skinless poultry
  • Low-fat milk
  • Soybeans and soybean products
  • Yogurt
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds

Be Choosy About Fats

Your kids need some fat in their diet, just not too much. And some types are better choices than others.

Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, help brain development in babies and young children. Compared to saturated fats, omega-3s and monounsaturated fats may help your body stay more sensitive to insulin, which lowers the risk of diabetes.

These foods are excellent sources of omega-3s or monounsaturated fat:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, and anchovies
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Ground flaxseed

Read Food Labels

Cooking is great. But for most families, it's not realistic to cook everything, at every meal, from scratch.

When you buy processed foods, check the Nutrition Facts label and choose those that are lower in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium, meaning a single serving makes up 5% or less of the daily limit for these ingredients.

Foods are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat if a serving has 20% or more of each one.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 02, 2020



Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids, 2002/2005, Food and Nutrition Board, National Academies Press.

Gidding S.S. Pediatrics, February 2006.

Fox, M.K. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2004.

Taylor, C.A. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, August 2007.

Johnson, L. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2008.

Fulgoni, V.L., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2008. 

Anderson, M. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, August 2006.

Nutrients in Food, by Elizabeth Hands from ESHA Research, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000.

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Get Pregnancy & Parenting Tips In Your Inbox

Doctor-approved information to keep you and your family healthy and happy.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.