Grocery Shopping Tips

A healthy focus to your grocery shopping trips can help you reach your health goals the rest of the week.  Try these tips to help you stay on track!

grocery cart

General Guidelines:

–          Shop the periphery of the store.

–          Look for color in your cart by choosing healthy foods from a variety of food groups (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats/beans, dairy).

–          Plan your meals and snacks for the week.

–          Review the current advertisements for specials.

–          Print a grocery shopping list or try using an app.

–          Eat before leaving the house.

–          Read your food labels to help you identify the healthier options.

–          Buy individual servings of snack foods to avoid overeating.


Produce:fruit and veg

–          Choose a variety of colors.

–          Take advantage of specials and seasonal produce.

–          Frozen is fine – picked at peak and flash frozen to retain nutrients.

–          Canned is better than none at all – rinse with water first.

–          Limit your intake of the “Dirty Dozen” – foods identified by the Environmental Working Group to contain the highest amount of pesticide residues.  Choose organic varieties of the following items: grapes, strawberries, cherries, nectarines, peaches, apples, pears, peppers, spinach, celery, lettuce, potatoes.

–          Non-organic is better than note eating your vegetables and fruits.

–          Wash everything!


Meat Department:

–          Compare ground turkey, beef, pork, and chicken for fat content.

–          Choose leaner cuts (loin, round).

–          Choose organic-certified meats (USDA seal).

–          Avoid marbling – it provides great flavor, but also increases unhealthy fat.

–          Limit red meat to no more than twice/week (<9oz/week).

–          Words to look for include: cage-free, free-range, wild, grass-fed.

–          Wild varieties of fish contain more omega-3s.


Dairy Department

–          Choose low-fat varieties.

–          Choose cheeses with less than 5g of fat per ounce.

–          Try Greek yogurt to increase protein intake.

–          Choose organic varieties to avoid rBGH hormone.

–          Choose real organic butter or combine real butter with flax oil or olive oil to make your own spreadable butter.

–          Try these common milk alternatives: almond milk, coconut milk and goat milk.


Bakery Department:

–          Look for a serving size of one slice or more.

–          Look for dietary fiber content of at least 3 grams per serving (5 grams is better!).

–          Look for less than 2g of fat per serving.

–          Make sure the first ingredient in the Ingredient List is whole grain.

–          Make sure sugar is not  one of the first 4 ingredients

–          Choose options with less than 20% of calories from sugar

–          Avoid products made with refined white flour.


Deli Department:

–          Look for nitrate/nitrite free and low-sodium varieties.

–          Avoid cured meats, like salami, as they have a higher sodium and fat content.

–          Aged cheeses or goat cheeses are lower fat options.

–          Avoid fried foods.

–          Roasted chickens or turkey breasts are great time savers.


Center Isles:

–          Look for raw nuts and seeds for homemade trail mix.

–          By dry whole grains and legumes: brown rice, wild rice, couscous, beans, lentils, quinoa, popcorn, barley, oats, whole wheat flour.

–          Choose dried fruits with no sulphites.

–          Use the same criteria for bread selection to choose cereals, tortillas, and crackers.

–          Choose items with a short ingredient list; be able to pronounce all the items.

–          Rinse canned vegetables to decrease sodium intake.

–          Choose fruits canned in juice, NOT syrup.

–          Avoid hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats).

–          Limit saturated fat – dressings should have <2-3 grams of saturated fat.

–          Choose vinegar and oil based dressings rather than creamy varieties.


Frozen Foods:

–          Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick meals.

–          Single-serving fish or chicken portions save time in the kitchen.

–          Purchase fresh chicken breasts, cook the entire package, and freeze for quick, easy meals.

–          Choose options with less than 10g of fat per serving.

–          Choose options with less than 600mg of sodium.

–          Limit your intake of frozen foods that are breaded, contain sauces, or have additives.

–          Limit your intake of frozen meals; they are convenient and portioned, but contain preservatives and sodium.  Aim for less than 500 calories per frozen meal.


Written By: Kim Andreola, MS RD

Information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional.

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Program Contact: Kim Andreola
Phone: 856-533-9787

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