Here are some of my top tips for the grocery store:
Cheddar cheese is not naturally orange! Milk is white, and so is natural cheddar cheese. If it’s orange, it’s been coloured, so why not choose the white stuff that tastes exactly the same? A word of caution: Always check the label, believe it or not I have found white cheddar with added colour in it too.
Stick to the left end of the leafy greens section. You may not have noticed this, but the leafy greens are usually organized from lighter to darker in the misted cooler section of the produce aisle, with the lighter greens like iceberg, bibb and romaine on the far right. Generally speaking, the dark leaﬁes like spinach, kale, beet greens, chard and collards are the more nutritionally-dense greens and the ones we eat too few of, so choose at least one or two greens a week from the left end of the cooler!
Real food goes bad (and that’s a good thing!) so bigger is not always better. The bulk packages of ﬂax and natural whole grain ﬂours, for example, may seem like a good deal but if you are just starting to include those foods in your family’s diet, you probably won’t get through the package before it starts to go bad. Buy smaller packages, especially when you are starting out, to reduce waste and save money.
Shop high and low, literally. Did you know stores often place the most expensive brands at eye level? There are often deals to be found if you look high and low.
If you are not meal planning, start! Try it for a week and calculate how much it saves you at the grocery store. My clients ﬁnd they can save between $50-100 when they carefully plan for both meals and snacks. Be sure to throw the ingredients in your cart for a couple of “healthy fast food” meals, like a bag of whole grain pasta and some healthy pasta sauce, or an extra half-dozen eggs, in the event your best laid plans go out the window on a busy night (because they inevitably do!)
On a slightly connected but mostly self-serving note, my cookbook, Real Food for Real Families, will be on bookstore shelves at the end of the month! If you have tried and enjoyed my recipes, there are loads more family-friendly, kid-tested concoctions in the book, along with lots of tips and tricks for feeding your family better, including a whole section on meal planning basics.
Wendy McCallum, LLB, RHN, is passionate about providing busy parents with the tools & support they need to feed their families wholesome food, so everyone can play, learn, and feel better! She is a mother of two terrific HRM kids, aged 8 & 9. For information and recipe ideas, visit her website.