Planning makes shopping for your health a lot easier

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CLAY COUNTY – Spending hours in the grocery store is the last thing any of us feel like doing after a long busy day. Taking the time to read nutrition labels, ingredients, and compare prices can feel like a daunting task.

The good news is that a little planning prior to making that trip to the grocery store can save you time, money, and have you leaving with the healthiest choices.

Healthy food choices are important for good health and often start with the choices we make in the grocery store. Planning healthy meals ahead of time can help you stick to a healthy eating style and to your grocery budget. Outline the meals your plan to prepare for the week and use it as a guide for your grocery list.

Remember it is important to be realistic about the foods you will actually prepare and consume, otherwise you will be wasting money on food that will go uneaten. Look at the store sales flyer and items that you have on hand in your pantry to incorporate into your weekly meals which will help you save money.

A well thought out grocery list can help you get a jump on good eating habits and get you in and out of the store quickly. Organizing your grocery list by food categories or by how your favorite store is laid out is a great way to keep you on track. Try to focus on the foods that you would find in the perimeter of the grocery store which are often healthier and less processed options such as fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and dairy. Remember that grocery stores are designed to get you to spend your money so aim to only buy the items on your grocery list and don’t give in to temptation. Both your health and your wallet will thank you.

The No. 1 thing I hear people say when discussing healthy eating is that it is too expensive. Although there are many expensive “health” foods, there are many healthy options that won’t break the bank. For example, buy fruits and vegetables that are in season for maximum flavor and nutrients and at a lower cost. Check your local supermarket specials for the best in-season buys or visit your local farmers market. Don’t discredit canned vegetables as a great addition to any meal, select those labeled “no salt added” for a cheap and healthy option.

Meats usually account for a big portion of our grocery bill. Ground turkey and ground chicken are a great alternative to ground beef and often cheaper per pound.

Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be complicated and given that impact of what we eat on our overall health and well-being it should be at the top of your to-do list.

If you are interested in more information about healthy eating contact Annie Sheldon at the UF/IFAS Extension Clay County at 904-284-6355 and check out our upcoming Healthy Florida Lifestyle Program at https://healthylifestyleclay.eventbrite.com.

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