Get Fit by Shopping Smart
Part 3 of 3
For those of you who follow my column, over the last two weeks I've given you tips and strategies to shop for fitter foods. You've learned what to do before you go in the store, the quickest way to get what you need and the best places to look for healthy stuff. This week I'm going to share a few more foods to look for and some last-minute money-saving ideas.
Breads & Snack Bars
When you buy bread, it doesn't matter how many grains are in a loaf. More grains don't make it more healthy. One of the biggest benefits of bread is the fiber. To find the highest fiber content, look for the words "Whole Wheat" on the label. A reasonable choice has 3 grams of fiber per slice. Ignore the phrase "enriched wheat" or "white wheat," they're not the same as whole wheat.
Snack or Nutrition Bars are terrible choices. Most are high in sugar, simple carbs, fat, sodium and low in protein. These are often just candy bars in healthier food wrappings. If you want snack bars, go to the protein bar section on our website and make your own.
Eggs & Milk
To get the freshest eggs, don't look for the USE BY date on the side. Instead, look for the number that's between 001 and 365. That number stands for the day it was packaged. The higher the number, the fresher the eggs. You can often find a range of more than a month between the newest and oldest eggs. While you're looking at eggs, don't bother getting ones with colored shells. Brown shelled eggs are the same nutritionally as white eggs, they just cost more.
Be cautious when choosing cartons of egg whites. They're more expensive than whole eggs you have to separate and many have extra sodium added.
Milk is a staple, but you should only choose 1% or fat-free. 2% milk is still 36% fat. When milk drinkers were blindfolded and asked to sample milk one step leaner than they usually drank, most couldn't tell a difference. Move down one level and save the fat. While you're at it, always check out the lowest racks of milk for the freshest product. People often look in the back, they rarely look down.
In the meat section, leaner is better. Steaks with the name "round" or "chuck" are going to have the lowest fat. Choose 94% lean or greater for ground beef and 98% lean or greater for ground turkey. Always buy chicken without the skin and don't be afraid to try fish once in a while. When you're deciding on how much you need, remember a typical serving of meat is the size of a pack of cards.
Be skeptical of Half Off sales. It's not uncommon for supermarkets to take an item, double the price for a week, and then put it on sale for half off.
Save More Money
Write down the prices of sale items. A person has to change the price in the computer from regular to the sale price. Whenever a human is involved, mistakes are made. Watch as the sale items are rung up and compare them to what you wrote down on your shopping list.
When comparing two items, always check the package weight, not just the size. It's tough for companies to raise prices. Instead what they often do is reduce how much they include in the package. Coffee is a classic example. In the past tin cans held a pound of coffee, today they hold 12 ounces or less.
Endcaps or end-of-aisle displays don't always feature sale items. They're considered prime selling locations because customers pass by them more frequently, so stores use them for a variety of purposes including introducing new products or clearing out slow-moving merchandise. If it's not on your list, you're probably safe ignoring it.
Skip the bottled water aisle. If you want the convenience, get some washable bottles, put a filter on your tap and make your own. Keep a case or two of bottled water around for emergencies only.
Consider convenience stores for quick purchases. The two most common items bought in a grocery store are bread and milk. They're often strategically placed at opposite ends of the store. To get those two items, you have to pass by thousands of other products in a maze laid out to slow you down. Odds are while you're getting them, you're going to see at least one or two other impulse items that will end up in your basket. Avoid the temptations and grab single items from a local mini-market.
Non-food items may cost more. Impulse buys like toothbrushes, shampoos, paper and light bulbs are often more expensive in grocery stores versus drug, office supply or hardware stores. Pick them up if you want to save some time, but if you want to save money, you can generally get them for less at other places.
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beginning any diet or exercise program.