Monday, April 26, 2010

Smart Shopping

Here is the latest email from Dr. Jacobs.

Smart Shopping

Are you sticking to your goal this year to eat better, but still feel overwhelmed when it comes to shopping at the grocery store? Have you ever started preparing a meal and then realized that you are missing some of the ingredients? Maybe you find yourself making several trips to the grocery store during the week—causing you to waste time and possibly spend more money.

Here are some guidelines that will make your healthy eating and grocery shopping easier:
• Plan ahead. Always make a grocery list before you go. Also, plan a menu for the week and write out your shopping list. Always check your freezer and pantry for foods you already have—don’t let things you already have on hand go to waste.

• Read food labels. Look for more nutrient-dense foods by keeping the saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium low while going for more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

• Never shop when you’re hungry. It is best to shop after you’ve eaten so you won’t be tempted to buy more things or buy food that is not on your grocery list. This will help control impulse buying.

• Start on the perimeter. Food staples such as fresh produce, meats, dairy, and breads are on the outer perimeter of the grocery store, so start there before going down the aisles for processed foods or empty-calorie foods.

• Use coupons and reward cards. You can save up to 10-15 percent on your grocery bill and receive more coupons from using a reward card at your local grocery stores. Use coupons for items you would normally buy, don’t buy something you won’t use just because you have a coupon.

• Check store ads and compare prices. Some grocery stores will match or beat prices in the ads.

• Purchase store brands. Generic brands can be 15–20 percent less expensive than national brands. When you buy national brands you are paying for the packaging.

• Buy only what you need. If you find sales on shelf-stable items that you can use before they spoil or expire, take advantage of those deals only.

• Check unit pricing. You will find unit pricing on the shelf tag. Look at the unit price (price per pound, ounce, or pint) to compare to bulk and economy-sizes with single-serve or regular-size packages or to compare national brands with store or generic brands. You may be surprised to find that something on sale in a smaller package may still be more expensive than the larger package when you look at the unit price.

• Shop seasonally. Fresh produce often costs less and tastes better when it is in season.

• Check expiration dates. Check sell-by and best used by dates to help select the freshest foods. Once you’re home, store foods so the oldest will be used first.

• Pay attention at check-out. Make sure prices ring up as advertised or as labeled, especially for sale items.
Buying groceries is something we all have to do. With a little preparation and these helpful tips you can get the most bang for your buck and your health.

By Amber Odom, R.D., L.D., Cooper Clinic Nutrition Department.

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