Is cooking not your thing? Do you attempt to be healthier by getting most of your meals at the grocery store?
How can you save time and still eat mindfully when picking up a grocery store meal?
Since grocery stores differ in the variability of available items use the following suggested guidelines.
Your options are the salad bar, prepackaged fresh foods, and the hot bar-so how do you navigate consciously?
Beware of the salad bar trap
- Start with a green salad mix base such spinach or arugula and add in some kale for crunch
- Layer vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumber or any delicious vegetables you like
- Include a lean protein as most bars have grilled chicken, chopped turkey, tuna, boiled eggs, and beans
- Add in toppings to bring your salad to a whole new level such as nuts, seeds, cheese, and a little fresh fruit, which can add flavor and nutrition without robbing your carbohydrate account
- Dress with olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar. Remember most packaged salad dressings contain added sugars, preservatives, xanthan gum, and hidden soy so best to avoid
Wisely choosing prepared fresh foods
Tip: Read the label on any packaged food and try to stick with less than five or six ingredients.
What to look for?
Look for options with hard-boiled eggs, chicken, turkey, tuna, beans, nuts, seeds, and cheese and if there is an organic option all the better. Chicken, tuna or egg salad could be an option, although ingredients are variable from store to store.
Tip: Ditch pre-packaged dressings and opt for oil and vinegar.
- Select rotisserie chicken, cooked fish, turkey breast, or lean meats with a side of cooked or grilled vegetables.
- Opt for vegetable soups without starches like chicken vegetable or mixed vegetable soup.
Choose a lean protein option with vegetables, such as sliced cooked turkey breast with green beans or cooked salmon breast with kale. Be cautious of the potential dressings and their ingredients.
Outsmart grocery store gimmicks
Watch out for…
- Artificial ingredients and preservatives
- Added salt and sugar
- Carbohydrate based dishes such as pasta, pizza, rice, potatoes, grains, and bread
- Anything breaded and fried
(Remember: 15 grams of carbohydrate is equivalent to one slice of bread)
Although grocery stores are a great alternative if you are limited on time to cook, be a smart shopper. Try to avoid going to the grocery store hungry but if you find your blood sugar dropping upon arrival grab a bag of nuts and a water while you shop. So play your aisle cards right to strengthen your health game, and save time while doing it!
This blog was co-written by Susan Dopart and RD Intern Farah Alrajaan