Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Strategies for Smart Shopping

Below is a list of practical suggestions for buying better quality food for your family. Start by incorporating just one or two. Then continue to make changes, starting with the ones that are easiest for you to accomplish.

* Shop in stores that carry the most nutritious foods.
* Buy locally grown organic produce at farmer's markets if you have them in your area.
* Before you put an item into your shopping cart, read the food label and ingredients list carefully, even when considering products you've been buying for years. Make sure you're buying the healthiest product you can afford. If you don't like your choices, consider shopping at a different store.
* Buy nutritious foods in bulk. (Read nutrition labels carefully before buying.)
* Buy foods that remember where they come from. For example, choose corn-on-the-cob over corn chips. Choose fresh fruit instead of fruit bars or fruit-flavored roll-ups.
* Buy organic products whenever you can. To keep the cost down, buy seasonal produce and non-perishable products in quantity when they are on sale.
* Don't let your children convince you to make unhealthy purchases at the store. Provide them with nutritious choices instead, and let them choose from among them. If, for example, your child asks for a candy bar, tell her she can pick out a basket of berries instead.
* Don't let your children convince you to purchase unhealthy foods they've seen advertised on TV. Keep in mind, also, that children choose foods with attractive packaging. (Younger children may not even know what's inside the package!) Talk with them about how to make wise choices, provide them with a healthy snack before going to the grocery store, and stand firm.
* If your children follow you through the store begging for one item after the next, say "If it's not on the list, we're not buying it," and stand firm. Divert their attention by engaging them in food selection. If they're old enough, give them an item on the list to find.
* Keep a shopping list in the kitchen to keep track of what you need to buy. When you see that you're running low on a particular item, make a quick note. Take the list shopping with you so you'll remember to pick up the nutritious foods that keep your kitchen well supplied.
* To encourage participation from everyone in the family, try having a family "cupboard cleaning party." Throw out (or donate) all of the food that you have deemed unhealthy. Replace these foods with more nutritionally acceptable choices.

(Excerpted from: The Laptop Lunch User's Guide: Fresh Ideas for Making Wholesome, Earth-friendly Lunches Your Kids Will Love, by Amy Hemmert & Tammy Pelstring, Morning Run Press, 2002. Available online at

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