You need to read this beginner’s guide to grocery shopping if most of the grocery items you buy end up in the pantry or the cabinets, and not in the fridge or freezer.

 

If most of the items you are buying end up in the cabinet, it means you are mostly buying boxed, packaged, or canned foods.

While all well-stocked kitchens needs a supply of cereals, pastas, grains, canned beans and vegetables, and tomato sauce, those items should not make up the bulk of a weekly shopping trip.

There are some important ways to shop healthy, and to avoid food traps at the supermarket.

Alternatives to Grocery Stores

For those with many fresh food markets and specialty stores, it is possible to skip the grocery store altogether. Whenever possible, fresh produce should be purchased at a local produce store. Stores that specialize in produce tend to have fresher fruits and vegetables than grocery stores.

The owners of local produce store oftentimes go to the local wholesale producemarkets in nearby cities and hand-select the items for the stores themselves.

Produce at grocery stores has been trucked in, and may never even be seen by the store manager.

  1. Also buy fresh fruits and vegetables from local fruit stands, when in season. The produce will be fresher, and fresher produce will last longer, and be safer to eat.
  2. Another reason to shop at the locally owned specialty store is because they will tend to have mostly fresh items that you need.
  3. In addition to shopping at the local produce store, find a local butcher or meat market. Shopping at a local butcher to meat market enables the shopper to buy the exact amount of meat they need, and not be forced toselect from a a pre-packaged meat case.
  4. Meat at a local butcher or meat market also tends to be leaner, since the customer has direct contact with the butchers. It just provides a higher level of customer service, which means leaner meats for the customer.
  5. Also buy fresh bread from a local bakery. Grocery store bread prices fluctuate with gas prices. It is no more expensive to buy freshly baked bread and rolls at the local bakery.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Grocery Shopping

 

Everyone knows to shop on the perimeter of the grocery store, where all of the fresh foods are located. But how much of us actually do? By shopping on the outside aisles, the shopper can shop from the produce section, the seafoodcounter , the deli counter, the meat counter, and hit the dairy.

Frozen foods are typically located near the dairy section, or in the middle of the store.

Avoid going down the snack, chip or candy aisles. If your supermarket has them, use the candy-free check out lane.

The Shopping List

The following items should be purchased and eaten weekly. These produce items can be used to make a variety of cold salads, and can be used to cook healthy entrees. The number of each item, or the amount of each that you buy, will be based on the number of people in the house.

From the produce aisle, or the local produce store, purchase the following vegetables:

  1. lettuce;
  2. baby spinach or mixed salad greens;
  3. a variety of bell peppers (choose from red, green, or yellow);
  4. celery, cucumbers;
  5. a couple of whole tomatoes;
  6. one bag of regular size carrots;
  7. if you like them, one avocado.

Also purchase the following fruits:

  1. apples;
  2. bananas;
  3. blueberries;
  4. a melon (honeydew or cantaloupe);
  5. strawberries;
  6. citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruits);
  7. any other fruits like kiwi, mangoes, or other seasonal fruits.

Also, have the following produce items on hand:

  • one bulb of garlic;
  • yellow onions;
  • one red onion;
  • a couple of sweet potatoes;
  • or a bag of red potatoes.

Next, purchase lean deli meats from the deli counter. From the meat section, buy boneless chicken breast, the leanest ground beef available, a turkey breast, and any lean steak.

Seafood to have on hand could be a hearty tuna steak, salmon steak or swordfish.

From the dairy aisle, select two percent milk, plain yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, and a package of shredded cheese.

Frozen foods to have on hand should include a bag of mixed vegetables of your choice, without sauce. One nice mix is a green bean, yellow bean, carrot mix. Or choose an Oriental Mix or Italian mix to use for cooking or to toss into soups and stews. Also buy some soy-based garden burgers. When not in season, buy your favorite berries from the frozen food section.

Staples to purchase from the grocery aisles should include nutritious cereal plus whole oats, multi-grain pasta, brown rice, cous cous, and any nuts or olives.

Bakery items can include multi-grain breads or English muffins, multi-grain wraps or tortillas, and whole wheat pita bread.

Now with all of this healthy food to prepare and eat, you won’t have room in your grocery cart or your stomach for the less healthy foods.

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If you are getting ready to begin your grocery list, well, I understand your pain. Making that grocery list, week in and week out gets tiring; and if nothing else, we want to eat, so we sit down and make out the list once again.
Do you eat the same thing, every week, and want new ideas of what to cook and how to fix it?

Well, if your answer is yes, we are in the same boat. Yes, this article gives new ideas, but then you have to take those ideas and put them to the meals you fix. Why, you ask?

If you are like me, there are certain meals we love to eat; even if they aren’t particularly healthy. What we did was take those favorite meals, and just make them healthier. Believe me; it does take getting used to. But on the plus side, it means you don’t have to get rid of all those usual meals you like to fix on a quick night.

And I found having to create all new recipes, can get expensive and tiring.

Take What you Have Meals

By this, I mean, start with what you have in your pantry. Often times, if you will look to see what you have, coming up with recipes is a lot easier. So if you have rice, then adding a veggie and meat to it sounds a lot easier than having to come up with the whole meal from that.

A few ideas:

  1. Do you have canned or frozen veggies? This makes great side dishes.
  2. Do you have Rice? You can make side dish or Mexican rice from this.
  3. Do you have tomato sauce, kidney beans, and chili hot beans? Chili!
  4. Keep your pantry full; this will help you when you sit down to make your grocery list.

Salad, Salad and more Salad

Salad is a not only a quick meal, but since you are heading to the grocery store, you can by a ready made salad that is ready to eat. On Grocery Store days, I love picking up things that are already finished. Makes cooking on those nights easy.

Try out the rotisserie chicken from the deli; use the meat as a main dish or cut up the meat and add to your ready made salad. Yummo!

For faster and easier cooking salads, use the best Vitamix blender.

Old and New Recipes

If you have a favorite idea, try kicking it up a notch, and go healthy. If you love Mexican, try replacing the hamburger with turkey or chicken. Or better yet, buy the bulk chicken, only pull out a couple pieces; defrost in the microwave, and you have a ready meal quick.

Sometimes it helps to rummage through your old cook books. You never know what recipes you will find. Sometimes you will find good earthy recipes that you will be making on a weekly basis. Try out your new recipes on the weekend when you have more time.

Keep a logs of Meals to Fix

I keep a magnet note pad on my refrigerator at all times. On here, I make a note of all the meals I am going to fix that week. Whether it is a leftover night, or pasta; this is where I make note. If I don’t, well, it is all too easy after a long day of work to forget what foods I bought.

By having it on the fridge, all I have to do is look at the day, to see what is to be fixed that night. Of course, you can mix and match. Sometimes things happen, and you need a quicker meal. By having your meals on the fridge, this is a great reminder. Let’s be honest, all we want to do when we get home is to relax.

Not try to remember what foods we bought, to then remember what to fix. Let’s make life as simple as possible.

Keep your Freezer Stocked

One of my favorite things to do is keep things in the freezer for any given night. Let’s face it, we all have some nights where we want do not want to cook. And on those nights, if we keep a well stocked freezer, all we have to do is whip out something from the freezer and our meal is done. This makes life easier for sure.

Things to keep on hand, and yes, not all of these are healthy:

  • Frozen Pizzas-keep a variety as everyone likes something different.
  • Frozen veggies-this is great for those nights when you need a quick but healthy side dish.
  • Frozen pasta-what better way to make pasta night? Whip out your pasta and have a fun pasta night in minutes.

The key is to take your normal foods/menu and just add a little something special to the menu. Add green beans when you normally only add rice. Add ice cream when you usually wouldn’t have a dessert. Make it low fat if you are watching those caleries.

Keep those staples on hand to help you serve something easy, in the pantry, but will go great with the menu. If you keep the pantry loaded, going to the grocery store will become easier and easier. And the end result, is making a grocery list will become easier than ever.

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Each day, grocery and convenience stores are inundated with consumers purchasing fatty consumer food products. With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration‘s requirement that all consumer food products reflect a more detailed Nutrition Fact label, American consumers are now provided with a more educated shopping experiencein an effort to consume more healthy foods.

Nutrition Fact labels

However, this change in Nutrition Fact Labels has not proven, thus far, to reduce the statistics on American cardiovascular complications nor obesity.

  • With the FDA’s approval of changes in Nutrition Fact labels, consumers are now provided with a more detailed analysis of the nutritional basis in consumer food products.
  • One of the most significant changes is the requirement that consumer food products now reflect the level of fat, both saturated and unsaturated, found in the food product in addition to information regarding the level of trans fats found in the consumer food product.
  • Through the added, detailed Nutrition Fact label, on consumer food products, the American consumer is now provided with more information to aide in the educated purchase of fatty food products.

Through a detailed analysis of fat content, consumers are equipeed with the tools to choose products which are low in saturated fats and trans fats and, therefore, leading to a decreased risk in cardiovascular complications over the longterm health projection.

Nutritional Information for Single Servings

In addition to the FDA required changes to Nutrition Fact labels, many food manufacturers have announced an addition change in which the consumer food labeling will include not only the nutritional information for the entire package of food, but also the nutritional information for single servings.

In doing so, these consumer food manufacturers are providing one additional tool to educate the American consumer in the nutritional content, or make up, of the product to be purchased, again, offering a new twist to the fight against obesity and cardiovascular disease.

While many American consumers are working towards a new health approach to diet and exercise, statistics show, unfortunately, few actually read Nutrition Fact labels on consumer products.

Even when read, many American consumers acknowledge the nutritional make up of the food selection but, more often than not, consume the poor food choices anyway.

On EcoLifeMaster you can find everything you need to keep to healthy lifestyle.

The Health of the General American Population

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s push to regulate the change to the Nutrition Fact labels in 2006, there was an anticipation the health of the general American population would improve through a more healthy food choice option. However, research thus far does not support this finding.

As a consumer of fatty consumer food products, when shopping in a grocery store or convenience store, stop for a moment and browse the variety of Nutrition Fact labels of the consumer food products.

By taking a moment to examine the differences in the consumer food selections, purchasing a more health alternative may be viable. The few extra minutes to examine Nutrition Fact lables may prove to decrease the risk of cardiovascular complications, and reduce the risk for obesity, without sacrificing flavor and taste.

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The best way to teach children about food nutrition is to start early.

 

How to Teach Kids About Vitamins and Minerals?

Whenever children are seeking a “treat” like candy, find a nutritious type of candy for them to eat. There are many vegan chocolates. There are Eastern-style sweets that are nutritious. There are fruit-based treats. Have a mixture of these types of treats, and teach them about the types of nutritions they contain.

This is an opportunity also to teach kids about vitamins and minerals contained in these fruits and vegan sweets.

Find the types of vegetables that your children like. Teach them about the types of nutritious that are found in the different colors of vegetables. You can start them with different colors of peppers, red, yellow, and green, and teach them the types of nutritions found in these different colors.

How do they like these vegetables?

  1. If they prefer them raw, then this is very good. Find vegetables that they prefer to eat in many different ways and many different varieties.
  2. If children like soups and salads, then you can add many different types of varieties of fruits and vegetables to soups and salads. You can also add many different grains for fibre and added nutritious.
  3. Teach them about the food pyramid. Teach them about many different foods from many different nations. Food can be a learning experience for them.
  4. You can also allow your children to help you to make certain types of foods, according to their age level.
  5. You can also add fruits and vegetables to pizzas, and make the most nutritious types of pizzas.
  6. For young children you can make food preparation a form of playtime, and it can also be educational.

There are also many books that you can buy that teach babies and toddlers about foods. These books can be purchased from Zooba.

You can purchase “World Snacks” that teaches your children about different international snack foods, including Mexican, Italian, Jewish, Japanese and Chinese snacks.

There is also a book entitled Teaching Children About Food.

You should teach children how to select food, how to prepare, and something about gardening

They should learn about how to work from nutritious recipes. They can learn how to create their own nutritious recipes. Teach them about the types of nutrition contained in different foods.

There are also many books on these subjects. There are online websites where children can learn about nutritious foods, and there are many online recipes.

In addition, you should teach children about food safety. An article on this topic can be found at:

www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1464.pdf THE EVERYTHING(R) BABY’S FIRST FOOD BOOK helps your baby to develop healthy eating patterns.

You can also teach children how to use eco household appliances.

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I have always enjoyed cooking, However, after the birth of our twin sons, I started looking for tips to save time in the kitchen. I read several online articles about “once a month cooking” and while this idea is grand, the concept did not work for my family.

 

I have modified this method to fit our needs and hope that by sharing my tip, that you too will have more time to spend with loved ones.

Bulk Preparation

I call my method “bulk preparation” as my concept is making foods in bulk so that things are on hand when needed. The reason this saves me time is that I prepare in quantity and then freeze the prepared foods in portions. However, unlike some methods, I do not cook five lasagnas at one time, or make bread for an entire day to put into the freezer.

Nor do I spend an entire day planning menus and shopping, as well as one full day in the kitchen using every pot that I own, only to spend one more day cleaning up.

What I do is select one meat and one vegetable per week that is on sale at the grocery store. Upon arriving home from the grocery store, I coordinate with my husband to watch the children so that I can prepare the foods from the sale.

The reason this method saves me time is that I cook once, clean up once, and then have portions on hand in the freezer. I try to do as much preparation of the food as much as possible so that a meal is only a few steps away after the food has thawed.

For example, when bone-less, skin-less chicken breast goes on sale, I buy several packages (for me, up to 25 pounds). I then prepare the chicken in several ways at one time.

  • I bake several breasts in fat-free Italian dressing;
  • Bake several in bar-b-q sauce;
  • And grill several with mild seasoning (no salt, foods going into the freezer should always be salted after thawing, not before placing in the freezer).

I have found it very handy to slice several of the grilled chicken breasts into strips before packing, as the chicken strips make great additions to pasta dishes when thawed. It is much easier to slice or dice foods before freezing, instead of waiting until the foods are completely thawed.

The chicken strips also make very quick quesadillas and casseroles.

When ground beef goes on sale, I also buy in bulk. I then brown several pounds with sautéed onions; several pounds with taco seasoning; and cook several pounds by forming hamburger patties and cooking completely.

The browned meat can be added to spaghetti sauce or casseroles, and I use the taco seasoned meat to add a little “kick” to certain meals.

Quick Meal

A favorite quick meal for my husband is when I use a thawed hamburger patty inside a grilled cheese sandwich; this meal is quickly achieved by slightly microwaving a thawed patty before inserting it into a normal grilled cheese sandwich.

I also buy bulk ground sausage which I shape into patties and grill for breakfast sandwiches. These patties thaw quickly and are added to a fresh omelet bagel for a great start to a busy day. When bacon goes on sale, I fry several pounds until crispy and place on paper towels to drain some of the grease.

Some bacon I freeze as strips; however, most of the bacon I make gets crumbled and frozen in small amounts to be added to breakfast casseroles or potato salad.

Fruits and vegetables are much easier for me to prepare in bulk, as they do not require any creativity or pre-planning of other ingredients for this stage of cooking. I tend to buy the same fruits and vegetables when they go on sale, as we are not very adventurous.

A large quantity of green beans or peaches can be cleaned, blanched, cooled in ice water, and packaged for the freezer in a short amount of time. When buying corn on the cob, I buy the corn from a local farmer who picks the corn in the morning; I take it home and husk it in our garage; and blanch the corn immediately.

After cooling in ice water, I cut the corn off of the cobs and package for the freezer. Again, food should not be salted at this stage, it is best to salt after the vegetables are thawed, or allow each person to season their own plate of food. Onions can be bought in bulk and simply diced and packaged for the freezer.

This means I only cry once and since I only use a small amount of onion at one time, this prevents a half onion from rotting in my crisper drawer.

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Portions

When foods are completely cooled, I then package everything into family sized portions, including making a few larger packages for when we serve guests. I label all of the packages with the type of food, date, and number of servings. I separate the meats in the freezer and have another area for vegetables.

This method allows me to have a large selection of prepared foods without committing hours and hours of work; we have dramatically cut out fast food purchases (which saves money and the home cooked meals are much healthier); my family does not have to eat the same meals over and over again which may occur with other bulk cooking methods; and because our freezer is fairly large, I am able to save money because I purchased the foods on sale.

In the morning, before my husband leaves for work, I ask him what he would like for dinner. I then pull the appropriate packages from the freezer. Food should always be thawed in the refrigerator or when time does not allow for this method, in a microwave oven.

How to Save Food?

Food should never be left on the kitchen counter to defrost. Also, once thawed food is used to cook into a dish, it should not be refrozen. So if a package of browned hamburger with sautéed onion is used in a pot of spaghetti, the leftover meal should be eaten within a day or two, not returned to the freezer.

Because we do not have a commercial sized freezer (nor do we have a large enough home to store this type of freezer), I have to decide what foods to buy in bulk and what quantity to store. My decisions are greatly influenced by the price of the sale items; when there is a very good sale, I do tend to buy a month worth of that food.

When a produce item is in season, not only is the price great, the quality of the vegetable is also best and this is my time to stock my freezer. Since most vegetables can be safely stored in a freezer for up to 12 months, this makes a valuable stockpile for my family.

Meats do not last nearly as long in the freezer; I never buy more than a 6 month supply of any type of meat in order to be safe.

Even if you do not plan to freeze foods, you can evaluate all of your fresh foods upon arriving home from the grocery store. For example, a full bag of celery or carrots can be cleaned and cut into strips to be eaten as snacks; and can even be packaged in small quantities in plastic bags or containers for brown bag lunches.

Once the work is done with cutting everything at one time, it is also easier to make a healthy selection for a snack.

I truly hope that my bulk preparation tip helps you to save time in your kitchen as well!

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Oh..ugh…groan! I can’t see my feet! I also can’t reach them…I used to be able to tie my shoes without cutting off my oxygen. Ugh! I have to lie down on the bed to zip my jeans! And…there’s no way I’m getting into that cute little black dress! Oh…woe is me!

My Story

Does this sound familiar? I go through this EVERY December, well, I guess it really starts in November. The holiday season, with all the traditional treats and special meals with special people and family members, always does this to me. I throw caution (and diets) to the wind and just enjoy to my heart’s content.

Then…the Grim Reaper rears his ugly head and I am repulsed by what I see in the full length mirror. We seem to work so hard all year long to eek off a few pounds and then comes the holiday season; all of our diligence of the preceding months gets washed down the garbage disposal with the scraps from dinner.

We feel bloated and NOTHING fits….again. And, this has gotten worse each successive year. Since I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my 20th birthday, the pounds seem to appear from nowhere, entrench themselves and dare me to make them go away.

Here you can read more about Bulk Preparation.

Strength of Will

Every year, I vow (or resolve) to take off the excess weight and keep it off, especially during the last two months of the year. But alas, again and again I fail. The New Year’s resolution lasts perhaps 2 days, sometimes a bit longer, but inevitably it also finds its demise with the dinner scraps.

I don’t know how you all feel, but this merry-go-round is making me crazy and it has to stop! Each year, I do manage to lose some pounds but I seem to have a few that stubbornly refuse to vanish.

The pounds have piled up and so have my health risks. It is with this thought in mind that I write this. The increased health risks from the excess weight gain are enormous and mind-boggling to say the least. Hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides just to name a few, loom ever present on the horizon.

It presents a bleak picture of the future for sure. And then…then think about your self esteem issues when you realize what has happened…and…worse than anything else…you did it to yourself!

So what do you do about it? You created the problem, you fed the problem (pun intended) and nurtured it over the years…what do you do about it? How badly do you want to be healthy again? How badly do you want to get fit and stay fit?

The decision

The decision about the future rests in our own hands and I know you’ve heard the same advice I have heard…the BEST exercise you can do is to push yourself away from the table and just say NO!

 

This is easier said than done unless you can put all of your resolve into the decision to change your lifestyle to a healthier one…oh and…never say “diet” again.

So, here we are again…New Year’s Day is fast approaching…and we are confronted again with our weakness. A resolution to change things is one option…again…we make the resolution on January 1 and by January 6 it’s in the dumper.

  • I propose to make my lifestyle changes BEFORE January 1…
  • I refuse to call them resolutions because I know I will not keep “resolutions”.
  • I also will not use the word “try” in my efforts because there is a built-in defeat in that word.
  • I will change my lifestyle habits and will promise myself not to deviate from these changes for the entire year…for the rest of my life.
  • I will get together with my cohorts at church and we will support and encourage each other.

We will exercise together, share food experiences (both successful ones and failures), share recipes and ways to change favorite recipes to make them more healthy and I will feel free to call any of these wonderful ladies when I feel the temptation to deviate too strong to resist alone.

You see, I am a Christian lady and I know that my God is stronger than any other power, period. He will enable me to succeed. I just need to do my part. He has placed these ladies in my circle and me in their circles to help along the way. There is strength in numbers sometimes. He works that way, you know.

So, I’ll exercise weekly with my group and go to the gym as well; I’ll control my portions and make changes in recipes to allow me to have the foods I really love in a healthier way. I will work hard all year long…and next November and December WILL be different because I WANT it to be! I’ll start tomorrow…it will be the first day of the rest of my life.

And, next week, I’ll be at our Get Fit Stay Fit meeting and put everything I have into making positive lifestyle changes for the rest of my life.

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