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Published on March 12, 2019

mother and son grocery shopping

#TryItTuesday: Shopping Essentials

Do you ever walk into the supermarket and feel overwhelmed? There are sooooooo many choices. March is National Nutrition Month. To make it less overwhelming, here is a quick guide of shopping cart essentials.

Produce Section

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the foundation for a healthy diet. Focus on whole fruits by choosing whole fruits more often than fruit juice. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried and pureed fruit all count. Choose options that have little or no added sugars. People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy eating style are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.

  • Fresh fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, pears, and berries are excellent choices for a quick snack.
  • When choosing lettuce, Romaine has more nutrients than iceberg.
  • Broccoli, kale, chard and spinach are delicious tasting and high in many nutrients.
  • Carrots and celery are simple snacks. Try dipping them in peanut butter or hummus for a new twist.
  • Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans. 


Milk and dairy products contain many nutrients and are a quick and easy addition to a healthy diet.

  • Choose low- fat or fat-free milk. They provide just as much calcium, but fewer calories than whole and 2 percent milk.
  • When choosing yogurt look for low fat, low sugar.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt more often than cheese. Milk and yogurt have more potassium and less sodium than most cheeses. Also, almost all milk and many yogurts are fortified with vitamin D.
  • When it comes to cheese, look for “reduced fat” or “low-fat” on the label.
  • Eggs and egg whites are great sources of protein.

What to Avoid or Limit

  • Cream cheese, cream, and butter are not part of the dairy food group. They are high in saturated fat and have little or no calcium.
  • Highly processed cheese-like products.

Bread and Cereal

Often the most confusing to buy, ignore the claims on the front of the package and go straight to the nutrition label. 

  • Some whole-grain ingredients include whole oats, whole-wheat flour, whole-grain corn, whole-grain brown rice and whole rye. Foods that say “multi-grain,” “100 percent wheat,” “high fiber,” or are brown in color may not be a whole-grain product.
  • If the product provides at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, it is a good source of fiber. If it contains 5 or more grams of fiber per serving, it is an excellent source of fiber.
  • Brown rice and whole grain pasta are healthy additions to many meals.
  • Healthy cereals are those made with whole grain and without added sugar.
  • Oatmeal is a hearty breakfast staple that cooks in minutes.

What to Avoid or Limit

  • Refined grains (white bread, rice and cereals) are missing the most nutritious parts of the grain.


Proteins play an important role in your diet, helping your body repair cells and make new ones.

  • Some great low-cost choices include beans and peas, such as kidney beans, split peas, and lentils.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Fish
  • Canned chunk-light tuna in water is healthy and convenient when making sandwiches and topping salads.
  • Look for “lean” beef such as round, sirloin, flank steak and 95 percent lean ground beef.
  • Nuts or seeds are great for snacks, on salads, or in main dishes to replace meat or poultry. Eat small portions to keep calories in check.

What to Avoid or Limit

  • Processed meats, such as hot dogs, salami and bologna
  • High-fat pork products (spareribs, ground pork, pork sausage, and bacon)
  • High-fat sausages (bratwurst, Italian sausage)

Extras That are Good for You

  • Olive oil. Buy extra virgin for the best flavor.
  • Herbs and spices add flavor to any dish without adding fat or calories. Some basics are cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, oregano, and basil.

What to Avoid or Limit

  • Sugary drinks like soda
  • Hydrogenated oil and margarine
  • Shortening
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial colors and flavors
  • Processed foods

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