You may have heard this advice before: if you stick to the perimeter of the grocery store, you’ll end up with healthy options filling your cart.
It sounds like a pretty good theory. Most grocery stores have fresh produce, meat, seafood and dairy around the perimeter, and all of these items are generally healthier since they don’t have added ingredients.
But, the experts at Fruits and Veggies: More Matters caution, healthy options can also be found up and down the aisles. You can also pick up plenty of high fat items with little to no nutritional value on your trip around the store.
If you’re trying the perimeter shopping strategy, keep these tips in mind:
- Bakery: You can usually find great whole wheat choices here, but the bread and cereal aisles have great options, too.
- Dairy: Choose low-fat and fat-free milk, yogurt and cheeses. The full-fat versions (which are also on the perimeter) can have the same fat content as bacon!
- Meat: Choose fresh fish, turkey, chicken, lean beef and pork. Avoid sausages, bacon, lunch meats and hot dogs. Frozen meat is generally fine as long as you stick to the lean varieties. Don’t fall for the breaded and fried stuff in the frozen aisle, though!
- Produce: As a rule, fruits and vegetables are great. Be careful with the croutons, salad dressings, fruit dips and other toppings – see if there are “light” products available. Don’t forget that frozen, dried, or canned fruits and vegetables are excellent if you want to be able to store them at home longer.
Also, don’t miss these items in the aisles:
- Cereals: Whole grain and low- or no-sugar-added cereals can start a good breakfast.
- Dried Fruits & Veggies: These make great, nutritious snacks. Throw in some nuts for an energy boost!
- Herbs and Spices: Add some flavor to your cooking! There are dozens of ways to spice up your favorite dish, look for alternatives to salt here if you’re cutting back on sodium.
- Canned Foods: Canned beans, vegetables and fruit stay nice and fresh in your cabinet until you need them, just be mindful of the sodium and sugar contents. Keep a mindful eye on those labels and you can negotiate this aisle safely.