Many families would love to buy all organic groceries, but the cost is often prohibitive. Julie Menounos, the in-store nutritionist at the Chelmsford, MA Stop & Shop, provided me with the below advice for how to make organic grocery shopping affordable, as well as tips for using grocery shopping as a way to springboard good health for your family. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a giveaway for a $20 Stop and Shop gift card! I hope you’ll use it to give organic groceries a try – or to expand what you are currently able to purchase organic!
– What are your suggestions for families who are looking for an affordable way to eat more organic, whole foods?
Try our Nature’s Promise® products which offer natural and organic products with simple flavors, the way nature intended. Comparable to national brands in quality, Nature’s Promise® foods are set at an affordable price, which means added savings for you. Items include organic apples and leafy greens, to organic whole grain breads and hormone-free milk.
If you want to save on fresh produce load up on all your favorites that are currently in season, whether organic or conventional. For produce that is out of season, look for no salt added frozen or canned varieties.
One of the best ways to improve your food budget is to skip organic processed items that are high in fat, sugar and sodium. Swap snack items, like chips and cookies, to purchase fresh organic produce. It is also important to remember that the term “organic” can apply to everything from cookies to apples, so chose foods that promote a balanced diet.
Look for sales on organic bulk staple items in like beans, grains, nuts, nut butters and seeds. Having a well-stocked pantry helps reduce the need to order out by ensuring you can fix up a quick meal along with a few fresh ingredients. Just be sure you have space at home to properly store the items.
– If you can’t buy all organic, which foods do you recommend as the ones to buy organic whenever possible?
Start going organic with the foods you eat more often or in the greatest quantities. You might choose to switch to organic milk, fruits and vegetables or grain products (pasta, cereal and crackers).
When it comes to fruit and vegetable options, start with those that have edible skins, such as apples, potatoes, peaches and peppers. Keep in mind that organic produce still needs to be washed thoroughly before it is cut or eaten.
Before You Leave for the Grocery Store:
· Don’t shop hungry. Be sure to have a light meal or snack with fiber and protein before shopping to avoid impulse buys.
· Make a grocery list. Plan out your week of meals, snacks and beverages and those you need to restock. Organize the list by the departments of the grocery store to save you time shopping.
During Your Shopping Trip:
· Shop the perimeter of the store. This is where the freshest, most natural food lies. So fill most of your cart with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and dairy items then venture down the center aisles to stock up on staple goods like whole grains, beans, vegetable-based soups, canned tuna and wild salmon.
· Pay attention to symbols to help you shop. For example, at Stop & Shop, you can look for the Healthy Ideas® symbol next to the price to find products that are better for you and your family.
· Read the ingredient list. If you are not sure how to accurately interpret the Nutrition Facts label, the ingredients list can provide you with enough information to make a healthy decision. Ingredients are listed in order of weight from high to low. In general, the less ingredients the better. If sugar is listed in the first or second ingredient of your breakfast cereal, look to swap it.
When You Get Home:
· Focus on filling half your plate with fruit and non-starchy vegetables. Fill the other half with whole grains (bread, rice, pasta and starchy vegetables like corn, peas, potatoes) and lean protein (chicken, turkey, beef seafood, beans).
· Don’t forget a serving of dairy (milk, yogurt or cheese) either incorporated into the meal, on the side or as dessert!
· Think about adding fruits and veggies to your families favorite foods. Add strawberries in cereal, blueberries in yogurt, sliced pears in a grill cheese sandwich, shredded carrots and zucchini to pasta sauce and broccoli on pizza.
Julie Menounos is the in-store nutritionist at the Chelmsford Stop & Shop. She is currently the first and only nutritionist for the company. Prior to joining Stop & Shop, she worked as a supplemental nutrition assistance program educator, providing nutrition instruction to low-income families across Connecticut. This experience ignited her passion for educating others on ways to adjust their diet and activity habits to meet their health, family and lifestyle needs. Julie is a registered dietitian and received her degree in Nutrition from Syracuse University and a Master of Science degree from the University of Connecticut.