I love to grocery shop on the weekend when I have a lot of time to stroll through the aisles, checking out new products and eyeballing the freshest stuff to build menus around for the week. But lately I’ve been doing more quick runs after work, when all I want to do is get in and out with something quick and healthy that I can put on the dinner table that night.
But that's hard, especially with all the temptations spread out in stores. So I’ve developed a strategy for spotting the healthiest stuff without spending a lot of time walking the aisles and comparing nutrition labels. Here’s my plan:
Shop the perimeter. When I hit the supermarket, I stick to the edges of the store. I don’t even think about getting lost in those middle aisles. That’s not where the healthy stuff resides. You’ll find the fresh stuff—produce, dairy, fish, lean meats, poultry in cases on the perimeter.
Shop by color. In the produce aisle, I avoid a lot of shopping deliberation by choosing what looks freshest and going for the perkiest looking stuff. It’s a sign of freshness. Another quickie health check: choose the deepest darkest colors. In general, those foods pack the most nutrients.
Buy the freshest. The fresher the item, the more nutrients it still has. Here are some quickie checks that I do on the run:
Greens: look for the perkiest; avoid anything wimpy and limp looking.
Berries: Tilt the container; the berries should move freely. Also inspect for mold.
Dairy case: Check the best-by dates; the later the better.
Eggs: Always take a quick peek inside; there should be no cracked ones.
Meat: Put anything leaky back.
Frozen case: Feel it. If cut up veggies and other frozen items feel like a big ice chunk, put it back. It might have been thawed and refrozen. Each piece should remain separate.
Bread and cereals: If it doesn’t say 100 percent whole grain on the package, list whole grains (oats, wheat berries, etc.) as the first ingredient, or have the whole grain label on it, I skip over it until I find the product that does.
Please let me know if you have any shopping short cuts that get you in and out of the supermarket fast—with healthy stuff in your bag.