Supermarkets today offer a vast array of choices. Some of the choices are good and healthy ones, such as the addition of the selection of organic foods to mainstream supermarkets. Some of the choices are definitely unhealthy as the selection of ready-made foods for convenience increases every day. While many of these choices are certainly convenient, and often times tasty, they are also full of processed foods, preservatives, additives and are often loaded with saturated fats and sugars.
Smart supermarket food shopping means makes good choices with all the varieties of foods that are at your fingertips while shopping. It means sometimes looking at convenience and weighing it with a healthier option. So many times we think healthy means NOT convenient. This is simply not true. Let’s take a look at some smart supermarket food shopping habits and what they can mean for your health and well being.
The Outside Perimeter
The first smart supermarket food shopping habit to start practicing is to begin your supermarket trip with the fresh produce section of the store. This is generally on one side or the other. Make your choices are good ones. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in color: Dark leafy greens for your salads, orange carrots and oranges, red apples and bell peppers. Make a smart supermarket food shopping habit of challenging yourself to have an array of colors in your basket when you are in this section. Also, try new fruits and vegetables that you haven’t tried before. If you’re unsure what something is, jot it down and look it up on the internet along with some quick and easy recipe ideas. Or ask one of the produce managers. They know an awful lot about the selection in their department.
After loading up on fresh fruits and vegetables, continue along the outside perimeter of the store. This is where you will generally find the healthiest and highest nutritional value from foods. You will most likely hit your dairy section and the meat department, as well as a deli if your supermarket has one. Only after you have loaded up on the outside perimeter items can you think about hitting the inside aisles. Why? These aisles are where you will find more processed foods. Don’t go down every aisle. If at all possible, stick to a food list based on your meal plan for the week. Heading down every aisle means sabotaging your smart supermarket food shopping habits! The cake mix that is on sale may be a great deal, but is it a good choice? If you don’t need anything down that aisle, don’t go down it!
Check Out Organic Foods
Your outside perimeter foods will include a variety of organic foods. As you start your smart supermarket food shopping trip, take a look at what organic fruits and vegetables are available. If at all possible, buy items that are marked as being local. Eating organic fruits and vegetables ensures that you are keeping pesticides out of your body. You will also have organic options in the dairy section and in the meat department. Choose free range chicken and eggs to ensure freedom of additives. You will also have a much better flavor! The same holds true with organic meats such as ground hamburger and steaks. The meat is free of additives and hormones that are given to most cows in non-organic settings. Again, the taste is incredibly good. The price tends to be a little higher on organic items, but the health benefits and taste make it well worth it.
Another smart supermarket food shopping trip habit is to hit the organic foods aisle before you go down any other aisle. There are an increasing number of organic food items and aisles in supermarkets today. Nowadays you will also find organic items interspersed throughout other aisles. Look for organic yogurt, organic cereals, organic pastas, organic coffees and organic soups when going down those aisles. Again, your smart supermarket food shopping habit of buying organic ensures you are putting the best ingredients into your body, and skipping unnecessary ones with harmful additives, preservatives, hormones and pesticides.
Frozen Food Section
The frozen food section does not have to be off limits! Yes, it can contain many highly processed convenience foods that are not smart supermarket food shopping habits to get into. However, there are several good choices as well.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are definitely preferred, but sometimes a busy lifestyle means that fresh fruits and vegetables can go bad. It’s a good idea to have a selection of frozen vegetables available. Better to have a frozen vegetable than no vegetable at all! If at all possible, purchase vegetables that have been flash frozen. These retain more complete nutrients. You can still try a variety of vegetables in the frozen section, sometimes even more then are available in the fresh produce section. For instance, if you love asparagus, there is a limited time of year you can find it in the fresh produce section but it is available all year long in the frozen section.
Smart supermarket food shopping habits don’t have to exclude convenience altogether. If you need to have some pre-packaged meals that are easy for you and your family- that can be okay occasionally. Just don’t make it a habit every night. Watch the nutritional level of what you buy carefully, paying particular attention to the calorie and fat contents. There are a number of healthy choices available, including pre-cooked chicken breasts and seafood that is flash frozen and can be cooked quickly.
Health Food Aisle
A smart supermarket food shopping habit is to check out your health food aisle. This can be the same as the organic aisle, but is also quite often different. You can find healthy alternatives to “regular” foods such as steel cut oatmeal, whole grain flour, and other healthy items.
While you’re in the health food aisle, check out the selection of protein supplements. They are a great smart supermarket food shopping item to have on hand for a quick energy shake when you need it. You will ensure you get all your protein needs in a convenient way. In addition, you can also shop online for protein supplements. Protica has several different protein supplements that are a great way to get your daily intake of protein.