Choosing nutritious food at the supermarket is the starting point for healthy eating.
Grocery shopping in three easy steps
Efficient grocery shopping involves three steps: planning your purchases, buying your groceries, and managing them as soon as you get them home.
1- Plan your purchases
This will save you time and steps in the grocery store:
- Use store flyers to plan your purchases to take advantage of specials.
- Spend some time planning dinner menus for the week, using ideas from recipe books, magazines, TV cooking shows or web sites devoted to food.
- Prepare a grocery list. You will be less tempted to make impulse purchases and you’ll be sure to have all the ingredients required for the week’s menus.
- Practice reading and understanding the nutritional information on labels. This will make you feel more confident at the store. Remember: bring your glasses or a magnifying glass, if needed!
2- Buy your groceries
The supermarket is where you make smart choices:
- Never shop when hungry. Depending on time of day, eat your regular meal or have a snack to avoid temptation in the store.
- ake the time to read labels, especially if you’re buying a product for the first time. You may end up spending more time in the store at first, but don’t worry. With practice, label reading becomes easy and fast.
- Opt for foods with the least possible amount of processing. Stock up on: whole-grain products (whole-wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, oats, quinoa, etc.), fruits and vegetables, milk and low-fat milk alternatives, lean meat and meat alternatives (fish, legumes, tofu, etc.)
Skip the aisles of sweets, snack food and pastries. You’ll avoid temptation and save time.
Buy foods that will serve as nutritious snacks. Instead of snacks with empty calories (chips, cakes, cookies, etc.), serve healthier choices: plain popcorn, fresh fruit, low-fat cheese, yogurt, etc.
3- Manage your groceries when you get home
To get full value from your purchases:
- As soon as you get home, wash, peel and scrape your raw vegetables (carrots, celery, cucumber, radish, cauliflower, etc.). These are all good choices for dealing with hunger pangs.
- Now that you have stocked up on healthy foods, you are ready to prepare healthy meals. The “balanced plate” is an easy model to follow.
- Cook large quantities and freeze what’s left. When you don’t have time to cook, these pre-prepared dishes can be on the table in no time.
- Stock up on legumes (beans), canned fish and frozen vegetables. These practical items keep for a long time. They can be easily incorporated into a balanced meal and will tide you over until your next shopping trip.
One change at a time …
Don’t try to make all these changes at once. You could be setting yourself up for failure and discouragement, and risk falling back into your old habits. Instead, set simple, realistic goals, and give yourself enough time to attain them.
To help you make smart choices for a balanced diet:
- Consult a dietitian or sign up for a training course at a diabetes teaching centre to learn how to decode nutritional information.
- See Food labels 101, our web page that explains how to read food labels.
- Contact our InfoDiabetes service to get advice from a dietitian.
Revision and adaptation: Diabetes Québec Team of Dietitians
Adapted from: Barbeau, Marie-Claire, Dietitian (Fall1997), “Le diabète au supermarché,” Plein Soleil, Diabetes Québec, pp. 31-32.
December 2014 (updated on July 2018)
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