Buying Groceries

Go to the grocery store with your children or a friend and pay attention to every food in the fruit and vegetable section. What foods do you always eat and which ones have you never tried? Many groceries have “cards” or recipe books located close to the scales. Take a small tablet with you and then look through the recipes. Write down the ones that sound appealing and try to make it.

If you don’t but an item, you can’t eat it. When grocery shopping, grit your teeth and pass by the bags of chips, candy and sugary drinks. If you only have fruits, vegetables, yoghurt and lean meats in your basket, then those will be your choices at home. And if you do not buy Oreos, candy, pop, and pie, then your children will not be able to eat those things, either. Children can be sneaky when they know goodies are in the kitchen and they will find it no matter where you hide it (believe me, husbands will, too).

Buy ground turkey (without the skin) instead of hamburger and “turkey dogs” (with white meant) instead of hot dogs.

Buy “whole wheat” bread, not just “wheat” bread. The latter is often no more nutritious than white bread and may have been dyed with caramel coloring to look like whole wheat.

Eat yoghurt that contains L. acidophilus, bacterium that helps to break down food and to extract more nutrients.

Use nutrient-rich spinach instead of ice berg lettuce.

Use vegetable oil instead of lard. Better yet, try Pam cooking spray that comes in several flavors (butter, garlic, olive oil, lemon, “original”) that can coat your pots and pans, will brown your turkey, etc. but adds almost no calories. If you need to use lard or grease in a recipe, try using no-salt chicken broth instead.

Scrutinize the hot dogs and luncheon meats before you buy. They usually contain too much sodium and fat (in addition to what many consumers would consider undesirable parts: genitals, intestines, etc.). Look for “white meat,” “low fat” and “low sodium.”

Be careful about buying fish. Try to find out where your fish came from. Many fish PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls that have shown up in breast milk among Iroquois women) and mercury (that appears even in fresh water, small-lake fish). As with beef and poultry, remove any visible fat and don’t eat the skin.

Start checking your foods for “high-fructose corn syrup,” an inexpensive ingredient that appears in everything from Cool Whip to Special K cereal. HFCS does not stimulate the creation of insulin and leptin that can tell you when you’ve had enough to eat. You don’t feel full by consuming large quantities of HFCS. It is recommended that if a food you’re about to purchase at the grocery has more than 8 grams of sugar and, if HFCS is listed as first or second on the list of ingredients, then buy something else. (Susan M. Kleiner, “The Devil’s Candy,” Men’s Health April 2000, p. 118, 120.) Remember that sugar also goes by these names: corn syrup, crystalline fructose, dextrose, fructose, fruit-juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, high-maltose corn syrup, honey lactose, invert sugar, lactose, malt, maltose, molasses, sucrose, syrup. (See also "Consumer Reports", January 2004, pp. 12-16.)

Dieters can save money by paying closer attention to how grocery stores market their products. Check unit prices; sometimes you can get cereal for example at a lower price in a larger box than a smaller one because the “unit price” is different. Pre-cut vegetables and salads cost more than separate bags carrots, celery, lettuce and spinach. The healthier, cook-it-yourself “plain” oatmeal is cheaper than the individual “sugared” packets. Store-brand products are usually cheaper than national brands. Small bags of products such as snacks sold next to the check-out stands are more expensive than large bags of the same thing. Cereals on the bottom shelves are often cheaper than those higher and at eye-level. Items on the ends of aisles are not necessarily on sale. Warehouse clubs such as Sam’s Club are not always full of bargains and, you have to buy enormous quantities of some items to get a good deal (and unless you’re having a party or have a large family, who can eat that case of mangoes before they spoil?). Coupons and store cards do help cut costs.