Back-to-School Nutrition: 5 Tips for Healthier Grocery Shopping & Family Meals by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
Maintaining a healthy diet during the summer can be tough for many of us! More travel, family gatherings, cookouts and holidays filled with hotdogs and burgers can all tempt us to stray from our healthy diets. With back to school here, it’s a great time to get you and your family back on track!
Making meals at home is one of the best ways to make sure your family is eating healthy. Creating a grocery list for the week can help ensure that you know exactly what goes into every dish. With a little planning beforehand, the foods you buy can help make your meals much healthier.
Follow these five tips for healthier food shopping:
- Read your nutrition facts. Compare facts such as calories, fat, protein and sugar content per serving across brands to help you make smarter choices.
- Make healthy food swaps. Switching to the lower fat version of foods you eat frequently – such as salad dressings, spreads, dairy products, even desserts – can save you a lot of calories. Choosing ground turkey breast instead of regular ground beef can cut about 10 grams of fat and 100 calories per 3-ounce serving. Try incorporating more plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils and tofu and replacing refined starches with whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa and oatmeal.
- Consider what’s in season. In season produce is usually fresher, more nutritious and less expensive than what’s out of season. Produce from a farmer’s market may be fresher than what you find in supermarkets, which means vegetables won’t wilt as quickly and the foods retain their nutritional value.
- Try a new fruit or vegetable once a week. All fruits and vegetables are unique in terms of the healthy phytonutrients they provide, so variety is really important to your good health. If you always use iceberg lettuce in your salad, switch to deep green romaine or baby spinach instead. Try a new variety of cabbage or cook some purple cauliflower instead of the usual white.
- Find ways to incorporate more fish into your diet. Wild-caught canned tuna and salmon are good sources of omega 3 fats, and are also convenient and affordable. Add canned tuna to your pasta sauce instead of ground beef or toss some canned salmon in a salad for a quick, healthy and light main dish.
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