Sometimes deciding what to cook is just a matter of asking your tummy, "What do you want to eat?" and sometimes it takes a short trip to the pantry or fridge to get inspired.
But whatever you decide, the process starts with grocery shopping. Grocery shopping is an essential skill that should not be taken lightly. So, let's get started.
Make a grocery list and stick to it
Plan at least two weeks' worth of meals to limit the number of trips to the grocery store. Always include foods from all food groups: fruits and vegetables, dairy, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Make sure to include your favorite seasonings, condiments, and beverages (avoid sugary drinks such as soft drinks or fruit punch).
Spending wisely means getting more for your money.
- When selecting your fruits, choose a variety of colors because different colors contain different nutrients. As a rule of thumb, the darker the color, the more nutritious it is— all forms count: fresh, frozen or canned. Inspect fresh fruits for smashed or moldy fruit. Most fruits will keep safe a week when refrigerated, but their nutrition value declines over time. Eat your fresh food first. Freeze fruit if it won't be eaten within a few days of purchase to retain its nutritional value. Overripe fruits are great for smoothies or baking.
- When it comes to vegetables, seasonal veggies are typically the best deal with better taste and lower prices. Make sure to look for produce on sale or store brands, which are usually cheaper. Buying the right amount is also very important to minimize waste. Two fruits and three vegetables per day per person is a good start. Make sure to include your family's favorites on the grocery list. Avoid food waste by adding leftover vegetables to casseroles or soups the next day.
Menu planning is recommended
When planning your meals, make sure to include your family likes and dislikes, as well as food items for all meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Always check what you have at home before going to the grocery store. Menu planning will save you time and money.
Read the Nutrition Facts label to select the healthier option
For canned vegetables, look at the sodium content and select the one with the lowest sodium content. For canned fruits, choose the ones packed in water or 100% juice.
Never go shopping on an empty stomach
You will end up buying things you do not need or are not healthy for you. An alternative to in-person grocery shopping is in-store pick up, curbside, or delivery. Grocery delivery services allow you to select the products you like from the stores where you usually shop and are delivered to your front door. Some of these services are free but others require a membership. Make sure food safety is part of the packaging too. Home-delivered foods and meals must be handled properly to prevent food poisoning.
Many school districts are providing meals to students during school closures. Check for local programs in your area or contact your local school to learn about meals that may be available through pop-up food systems or grab-n-go meal pickups.
There are many benefits to eating well, from disease prevention to overall health and wellness. That’s why Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation have partnered with Kohl’s Cares on a program called #GiveMe5 to encourage children and families throughout the community to stay active and eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Our partnership brings healthy eating tips and recipes to kids in local schools and to families at various community events throughout the year. For more information, please visit our #GiveMe5 page.