Grocery Store Lifeline: How to Choose From All The Food Options Today

Fruit and cheese bar

Fruit and cheese bar (Image via AZFB)

By: Peggy Jo Goodfellow, Arizona Farm Bureau

I really don’t like to shop. But I do like to eat so shopping for good food is a must!  I have learned that the best way to lessen the pain of grocery shopping is to make a shopping list. At our house, we keep a weekly on-going list, listing the items we use, as we use them. Before I complete my list, I read the weekly ads from the grocery store and look for bargains on the things we buy every week: fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese and meats.

Next you can plan your dinner menus for the week. Why just dinner?  Because, breakfast is usually eggs, cereal or oatmeal and lunch is leftover dinner, soup, sandwiches or salads and these items were already on the list.

With list in hand, you arrive at the grocery store. Now the challenge to make the right choices for you and your family begins. The variety of food choices today is staggering. There is canned, frozen, fresh,  traditionally grown, organic, natural, salt-free, gluten-free, low-fat and the list goes on and on. Actually, the myriad of choices help satisfy your preferences, health restrictions and more.

We are very fortunate to have these choices. And, we should celebrate them though they can often confuse.

Here are a few food shopping tips you may want to consider the next time you shop for food:

  • Fruits and vegetables that are fresh or frozen have about the same nutritional values. So when you can’t buy fresh, frozen is the next best choice.
  • Choose to shop the edges of the store first. That’s where you will find nutritious dairy, eggs, meat and fresh produce items. Shop the aisles last for all the processed items on your menu/ list.
  • Choose not to buy an item that’s not on your list. You can avoid impulse buying by ignoring the end of the aisles. End –caps are “impulse buying territory.”
  • Want to save money?  Choose to buy store brands when possible. They are usually less expensive and often the same quality. If the brand name is important to you then watch for specials on your favorite brands.
  • Don’t overbuy produce items. If there is a sale on 5-pounds of potatoes, but you only need 2 large baking potatoes … then only buy 2 potatoes.
  • If your family loves oatmeal every morning buying the large size container is a better choice than the smaller container. If they love eggs, then buy the 18 count instead of a dozen eggs. Remember you can always make oatmeal cookies or egg salad to make good use of the food you buy.
  • Are you on a tight budget?  When a recipe calls for a “sirloin tip” roast, you can choose a less expensive cut like chuck roast and cook it in a crock-pot to achieve the same tenderness as the higher cut of meat.
  • Feeding your family nutritious foods is important. Choose to buy less processed foods and buy fresh. Let’s compare the cost of three fresh peaches to the same quantity of peaches in a can. With the pits removed and sliced the fresh peaches weigh just over 2 lbs. You’ll find that the fresh is less expensive than canned and without the added sugar. Yes, you have to cut them up, but how do you put a price on great taste and added nutrition for your family?

Stay focused and alert!  Around the corner, as you enter the next aisle, there might be someone giving away samples of a new product. It’s yours, if you choose to buy it!

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