A healthy lifestyle starts with good nutrition and good nutrition starts with smart choices in the grocery store. Preparing healthy meals for you and your family can be challenging if you don’t have healthy ingredients in your kitchen.

Grocery shopping can be a daunting task. Which reduced fat crackers should you buy, which produce is “in season”, is the yogurt that is on sale good for my diet? Who has time to read all the food labels, and if they do, who can understand them and make the most nutritious choice?

Healthy choices are easier to find than ever if you have a plan. Here are our top five tips to ensure a healthy grocery-shopping trip:

1. Plan Ahead

Before going to the store try planning out your meals and create a shopping list, while it takes a couple minutes, it will save you time in the store and also in meal preparation. Utilize the NutriSavings app to develop your list.

Check store circulars and coupons to see if sales items are on your list. NutriSavings provides both within their mobile app and web platforms.

Don’t shop hungry; shopping on an empty stomach will result in impulse purchases often not the healthiest option.

2. Focus On My Plate

My Plate, is the USDAs guide to balanced meals. It’s recommended that half of your plate should be fruits and veggies, a quarter grains and a quarter protein, with dairy and water as drink options. It stands to reason your purchases should mirror your plate, half fruits and veggies and so on. Additionally, My Plate focuses on variety, so change it up a bit. Choose Kale instead of spinach or lettuce for your salad or add nuts and legumes as a lean protein source.

3. Choose Convenience At A Cost

Precut, pre-washed and sometimes pre-packaged produce is worth the extra expense for simplicity when it comes to packing lunches or just making a healthy snack the easiest option to choose from. Not to mention pre-packaged products will help a great deal with portion control.

4. Spend Your Time Where You Spend Your Money

Being supermarket savvy means spending your money and time in equal proportions.

Produce – Spend the majority of your time and budget in the produce section (canned, dried, fresh or frozen) they’re all good. The more color the better; remember to eat the rainbow.

Grains like bread, cereal and pasta – the rule is whole grains are best; the least amount of processing is ideal.

Meat, fish and Poultry – Choose lean cuts of meat, skinless poultry and try to add in fish at least twice per week as recommended by the American Heart Association. Fish in general is rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

Dairy – There are plenty of low fat and no fat dairy options that are rich in calcium and vitamin D, both of which are excellent for bone health. Again, opt for convenience with single portion cheese snacks and smoothies to control portion size.

Frozen Foods – We’ve covered produce already, but beware of sauces. Steam in bag makes cooking a breeze. Other areas of the frozen section to spend time in; whole grain breakfast foods like waffles, concentrate juices and beverages, and whole grain frozen pizza crust.

Canned or Dried Foods – We’ve covered canned produce as well, when buying look for no or low sodium option on veggies and packed in 100% juice or water for fruit, avoid the syrups. The canned aisle is also great for low sodium soups, oils, and vinegars. Don’t forget to add canned tuna, it will go great on you salad.

Final thoughts to make shopping healthy in 2018 easy

1. Plan ahead, making a health meal plan, will help you to develop a healthy shopping list. Having a shopping list is proven to help you control not only what you buy, but also your spending.

2. Spend your time on the perimeter of the store, where you can find fresh foods like produce, dairy, meat and fish. The center of the store is where all the “junk food” lives.

3. Choose foods with the least amount of processing and additives, “real food” like 100% whole grain, or 100% juice. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, then leave it on the shelf.

4. Let NutriSavings be your healthy shopping companion.