Tips for Healthier Food Shopping and Home Cooking

Switch to:

Tips for Healthier Food Shopping and Home Cooking

Fast food may be cheap and easy, but it’s a poor health habit. Anyone can cook delicious, healthy meals at home. It just takes knowing how to plan and how to shop.

BlogImage HealthyFoodShopping Oct2019

Keep it fresh

Healthy shopping starts as you walk into a store, in the fruit-and-vegetable aisle. “Shoot for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day,” says Lindsey Kent, retail dietitian at Wakefern Food. She recommends filling half your plate at meal-time with fruits and vegetables.

Then, walk the outer aisles for more fresh choices. “Look for lean protein choices, such as boneless, skinless chicken breast and thighs, fish (especially cold-water salmon and tuna), ground turkey, lean meat, and low-fat dairy,” says Kent.

Canned and frozen can be good, too!

If you can’t buy fresh, pick up low-sodium canned vegetables and beans, and fruit packed in water or 100% juice. Frozen fruits and veggies are picked at the peak of freshness, preserving nutrients in a convenient package.

Remember your protein! Canned tuna in water and frozen fish portions are smart buys. Other good protein sources to add to your meals include dried beans, nuts, and seeds.

Plan ahead – with an eye on sales

Yes, you can eat healthy on a budget. Shopping with a list and planning meals in advance can help you buy only what you need. Check your cabinets and refrigerator before making your shopping list.

Store promotions can help you decide what to eat each week. Check circulars and websites for specials. Chicken thighs on sale? Stock up and freeze them for the future. Pair store specials with coupons from store websites, newspapers, and digital coupon sites.

“Buying in bulk is another way to save,” Kent adds. “Brown rice, dried beans, oats, and pasta are all examples of non-perishable (meaning they have a long shelf life) foods that can save you money when buying in bulk.” Then, double recipes so you can cook once and eat twice with healthy leftovers.

And skip the brand names. “Store-brand products provide the same quality and nutritional value at a fraction of the name-brand cost,” says Kent. Wait for sales and coupons if you want brand names. Then, buy a little extra to freeze so you’ll have it when you need it.

Ask for help

Some supermarkets have dietitians on staff to help you create healthy recipes. Check to see if your market features free cooking demonstrations, nutrition classes, or even free one-on-one nutritional consultations right at the store.

Kent encourages people to visit store websites and social media accounts for event calendars, healthy recipes, and nutrition tips.

ConnectiCare members can also call the number on their ID card and ask for help finding resources for healthy eating.