If you’re like most parents, you probably don’t have time to do as much menu planning as you’d like. Thus, you may feel that the decisions you make in the supermarket occur in the spur of the moment much too often. Keep in mind, however, that most supermarkets carry thousands of food items on their shelves, and impulse buying can be risky. You may end up purchasing foods that you really had no intention of buying.
For that reason, it pays to have a plan. Find a few minutes before you shop to make a list of the basic items you need. It’s also a good idea to shop at a market that you’re familiar with, where you know the location of most of the foods you want. You’ll spend less time browsing down the aisles, where you may find and choose foods that your family really doesn’t need.
When you enter the market, concentrate first on shopping along its outer borders, where most stores keep fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meats, and juices. Packaged items, which are often higher in calories, tend to be on interior shelves. Invite your older child to shop with you to learn about nutrition labels and be an active participant in selecting healthy foods. Just prior to purchasing your groceries, spend a moment that might be called “Right Before Checkout,” looking into your cart and making sure that you actually want all the items that are there.
By the way, optimal food selection is only the first step in this process. Once you’re in the kitchen and preparing meals, be sure to trim all visible fat from meat and remove the skin from chicken before cooking. Also, use cooking techniques such as broiling, roasting, and steaming that call for little or no fat. If your family likes butter or margarine on cooked vegetables, try to add only small amounts or use healthy oils such as seasoning with a bit of olive oil or pesto sauce.