By: Tori Mullen

Grocery shopping can be a stressful and difficult task.  The store is often filled with many busy shoppers and a variety of product choices.  These stressors can make shopping an uncomfortable experience. So how are you supposed to get all the products you need and choose the healthiest options? Here a list of 10 helpful tips to make the healthiest choice at the grocery store:

  1. Read Nutrition Labels

Make sure that you read the nutrition facts of each product, even “healthier” foods. Look at the amount of added sugars, sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fat. Compare serving sizes and the different brands of the same product to find the healthiest option.

  1. Make a Grocery List

Make a list before you go to the grocery store. Plan your meals for the week ahead so that you don’t forget any items on your list and you can stick to an agenda.  Having a list before you go will help to only buy the products you need.  This can help to keep the cost down and make your shopping experience quicker and less stressful. A list will also help you stick to healthier options that you have planned to buy.

  1. Read the Ingredients List

Check to make sure that you can pronounce the ingredients on the list.  If not, it usually means it contains unnecessary additives.  The shorter the list of ingredients is, usually the healthier the product.

  1. Shop the Outside of the Store

Try to shop mostly in the outside aisles.  Grocery stores are usually set up to have more of the natural products on the outside aisles and more processed products in the middle.  Shopping the outside aisles can also make your trip faster without having to zip up and down every aisle.

  1. Choose Whole-Grain Foods

Look for whole-grains listed as the first ingredient.  Whole grains can be found in products such as crackers, cereals, tortillas, pasta, and other grains.  These items are usually higher in fiber, which is better for digestive health.

  1. Look for Foods Marked with a Heart-Check Mark

Many foods are labeled as a “Heart-Healthy Food” by the American Heart Association.  This sign helps to identify certain items for good overall health.  These products must meet specific nutrient requirements to obtain this label.

  1. Don’t Go Shopping When You are Hungry

Shopping while hungry can cause you to make unhealthy choices.  Seeing items that are appealing to you at the time can cloud your judgment and cause you to spend money on items you don’t need.

  1. Don’t Buy Food at Eye Level

Grocery stores use marketing techniques to put more expensive products at eye level.  Look up, down, and to the side to compare different products for nutrient value and price.  More often than not, the healthier option is usually above or below where you would normally look.

  1. Stock Up on Fresh, Frozen, and Canned Produce

Having produce on hand at all times makes it easier to choose healthier options.  Frozen and canned produce are usually just as nutritious as fresh items but can be stored longer which means you may save money by not wasting ingredients.  Be sure to scan the labels to check for unnecessary additives.  Look to see that fruit is packaged in its own juice and not in heavy syrup.  For canned vegetables, choose the label with “No sodium added”.  Make sure that frozen vegetables are not in a sauce because this usually adds extra sodium.

  1. Choose Plain When Possible

With items such as yogurt, ice cream, soy milk, pasta sauce, etc., choose the plain option.  The original versions usually cost less and have less added sugar and sodium, making them a healthier choice.