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The Savvy Grocery Shopper

Food Fitness. Nourish your body.

Following are some tips on shopping smart for you and your family!

Bag of Healthy Groceries

The Deli Counter. Best low fat choices:  Sliced roast beef, turkey and lean ham.

Caution: Low in fat but high in sodium:  Pressed or processed meats, smoked ham and Canadian bacon. Turkey and chicken franks do not always have less fat than the beef franks. Check nutrition labels for sodium and fat content. If you choose processed lunch meat, select only those marked 95-percent fat free.

The Dairy Case

Try plain, low fat or no-fat yogurt as a mayonnaise or sour cream substitute.
Look for part-skim mozzarella's (or fat free better yet), part-skim string cheese, part-skin or low fat ricotta and light and/or reduced calorie cheeses that contain less than five grams of fat per ounce. Go for low-fat cottage cheese.

Choose skim milk or low fat milk, or better yet, instant nonfat dry milk instead of regular whole milk or cream.

Substituting Flavor for Fat

  • For most cooking and baking you can easily replace regular whole milk with reconstituted instant nonfat dry milk and save calories and fat while reducing cholesterol.
  • In the dry milk section you will also find low calorie cultured buttermilk blend, perfect for baking and as a low fat replacement for milk in a wide variety of recipes.

Box of Cereal

Bread and Cereal

  • Look for cereal with at least two grams of fiber, eight grams or less sugar, and two grams or less fat per serving.
  • Compare portion sizes and calories on cereal labels. Some call a portion 1/4-cup, others 1-1/2 cups!
  • Look for whole grain cereals; oatmeal, cracked wheat, etc.

Canned Foods

Canned Food

  • Choose 100-percent pure fruit juices over fruit "drinks" and punches.
  • Many dry coffee creamers are mostly saturated fat and sugar. Instant nonfat dry milk is an excellent replacement.
  • The edible bones of canned salmon and sardines provide calcium.
  • If your sodium level is restricted, check sodium levels of canned foods. Many plain canned items (tuna, vegetables, soups, etc.) contain high quantities of hidden salt.

Snacks and Sodium

  • Look for products that limit palm, kernel, or coconut oil. If those items are high on their ingredient list, keep looking.
  • Thick, unsalted pretzels are lower in fat and sodium than most other packaged snacks.
  • Graham crackers, animal crackers, gingersnaps and fig bars have less sugar and fat than most other cookies.
  • Microwave popcorn is usually high in fat and sodium. Make your own in an air popper. Use a butter flavored substitute in place of butter and salt.
  • Rice and pasta mixes are usually high in sodium; use only half the seasoning packet or choose fresh herbs to add flavor.
  • Try not to grocery shop when you are hungry - it's true that you are likely to buy more - and more of the "bad" items. And avoid buying a snack item just because it is on sale.


Tub margarine

  • Soft tub margarine and spread is made with unsaturated oils. Regular butter and margarine have about 100 calories per tablespoon; spreads have 80 calories per tablespoon; whipped butters have 70 calories per tablespoon.
  • Light mayonnaise has about half the calories of regular mayonnaise (mix diet mayonnaise with an equal amount of mustard and at about 30 calories per tablespoon, you have a zippy, low fat, low calorie sandwich spread).
  • Diet dressings with less than ten calories per tablespoon can be used as a taste-enhancing marinade for meat, poultry, or vegetables.

Meat Counter Musts

  • Select only lean, well-trimmed cuts; flank steak, round steak, ground round or roasts, sirloin or tenderloin, loin pork chops, 85 percent lean ground beef.
  • Meat graded select has less fat than choice or prime grades.
  • Lean beef, pork and lamb are not much higher in dietary cholesterol than poultry or fish, but they have more saturated fat.
  • Beef liver is very high in iron, zinc and many vitamins, but also very high in dietary cholesterol.
  • Limit high fat meats such as ribs, corned beef, sausage, or bacon. Better yet, eliminate them.

Fresh Fish and Poultry

  • Fish from deep waters have heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. Choose salmon, tuna, mackerel, sea trout, bluefish, herring, bonito or pompano.
  • Fresh ground turkey is a low fat substitute for ground beef.
  • Most chicken and turkey nuggets, patties and rolls are made with ground skin and have a lot of salt - better to avoid them.
  • Roast meat on a rack and discard the drippings. Steam fish when possible.

Frozen Fast Foods

  • To limit fat and sodium, buy frozen fish and poultry without breading.
  • Look for frozen dinners with less than 15 grams of fat, less than 400 calories and less than 800 milligrams of sodium.
  • Low fat frozen yogurt has less fat than most ice cream.
  • If you are an ice cream addict, choose low fat ice milk or low calorie frozen juice and fruit bars instead.

Tidbit: Many people choose a fish sandwich or chicken nuggets at fast food counters thinking they are making a healthier choice. Either choice has more fat than a large hamburger.

Note:  These guidelines are for healthy adults. If you have special health considerations, please consult your physician or registered dietitian for special dietary guidelines.

Food Shopper Freebie!

Download "My Shopping List" - 2 printable pages of shopping lists ready to be filled out for each category of the food groups:

  • Grain Group
  • Vegetable Group
  • Fruit Group
  • Milk Group
  • Meat and Bean Group
  • Other
  • Plus, Food Shopping Tips

Printable Food Group Shopping Lists

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