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Smart Grocery Shopping Tips

The path to eating smart starts at the source—where you shop. Establishing new shopping patterns at the grocery store is the first step in developing healthier eating habits and small changes can make a difference. Here are more ideas for smarter shopping habits by aisle.

Overall Grocery Shopping Strategies
  • Make a shopping list and stick with it! Type up a master grocery list of foods in the supermarket you typically purchase. Then each week print out the list and circle what you need.
  • Organize your food list based on the MyPlate food categories. This helps ensure that your grocery cart has a mix of healthy foods. Learn more about MyPlate.
  • Read labels! Compare nutrition labels between brands and varieties of your favorite foods to make choices that best meet your family’s needs.
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry! Eat a small meal or healthy snack before you shop. This will help you stick to your list and reduce impulse purchases.
Produce Section



  • Purchase what’s in season! Select fruits and vegetables during their peak growing season for the best selection and greatest value.
  • Choose a variety of colors. Fruits and vegetables come in red, orange, white, purple and other hues which provide different combinations of nutrients for health.
  • Consider pre-cut vegetables and fruits. Keep these on hand for quick and easy meals and grab and go snacks. They can be found in the produce section with the bags of salad greens or trays of fresh fruits.
Dairy Section



  • Choose 1% or skim milk to save on fat, cholesterol and calories. Used to whole milk? Try 2% milk for a few weeks and as tastes adjust switch to 1% or skim. Looking for a something different? Try low-fat soy milk for a slightly sweet creamy taste.
  • Part skim, reduced-fat and/or fat-free cheeses provide protein and calcium with less fat and calories. Try part skim mozzarella, reduced fat cheddar and light cream cheese for a healthier change of pace.
  • Eggs are a great inexpensive source of protein. Many stores now stock regular, omega-3 enriched and free-range eggs. Concerned about cholesterol? Cook with egg whites or try cholesterol-free egg substitutes.
Canned Foods
  • Stock up on soup. No need to sacrifice nutrition for convenience. Soups make great quick and easy simple meals. Did you know many of Campbell’s® soups provide a ½ cup serving of vegetables as well as varieties with whole grains and lean meats?
  • Select canned fruits for convenience. Choose varieties packed in their own juice to avoid the extra calories from heavy syrup. Pack them in your kid’s lunch or have on hand to sweeten muffins and desserts.
  • No time to prep fresh produce? Canned vegetables are great to have on hand. Use them as you would fresh vegetables in casseroles, stir frys or tossed in pasta dishes to add extra vegetables to your meal.
  • Keep pasta sauce in the pantry for a quick and wholesome meal. Try Prego® Heart Smart varieties over whole grain pasta and vegetables. It’s a great way to add vegetables that your kids will love.
Grains and Breads
  • Go for the grain! Whole grain foods often have more fiber, help you stay satisfied longer and provide other health benefits. Choose 100% whole-grain breads, brown rice, whole-grain crackers, pastas and low-fat/high-fiber cereals to add to your meal plan.
  • Confused with all the choices? Read the label! One of the first few ingredients listed should be a whole grain, such as:
    • 100% whole-wheat flour
    • Brown rice
    • Whole oats or oatmeal
    • Cracked wheat
    • Whole-grain corn
    • Whole-grain barley (unpearled)
    • Bulgur


  • Choose lean meats! Select lower fat varieties like lean turkey, and roast beef to reduce the fat in sandwiches, snacks and salads.
  • Select lower fat deli cheese. Reduced fat American, low-fat Swiss and lower fat soft cheeses like boursin are good alternatives.
  • Consider lower sodium options. If you are watching your salt intake, most grocery stores now stock a larger variety of lower sodium deli meats and cheeses.
Snack Aisle


  • Try portion controlled snacks. To avoid uncontrolled munching stock up on 100 calorie or individual serving packs of you favorite munchies and enjoy in moderation.
  • Select whole grain versions of your favorite snacks. Choose whole grain tortilla chips and whole wheat or oat bran pretzels for more fiber. Measure out your snack portions rather than eating from the bag to save calories.
  • Low fat or baked doesn’t mean calorie free. If you decide to choose a low-fat, reduced-fat or baked chip, read and compare labels. Often these products have the same number of calories as regular chips.
  • Look for reduced-fat and fat free varieties of your favorite microwave popcorn. Popcorn can be a whole grain healthy snack until loaded up with butter and salt. Try fat free and reduced fat varieties and season with lemon pepper or a little grated parmesan cheese.
  • Stock up on frozen vegetables. Quick frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh. Adults need about 2½ cups of veggies a day. Adding frozen vegetables to stir-fries or casseroles is an easy way to help meet this need.
  • Frozen fruits and berries are a convenient and equally nutritious alternative to fresh. They are ideal in smoothies, over ice cream or slightly thawed with fat-free whipped topping for a yummy dessert.
  • Look for frozen whole grain waffles, bagels and French toast. Keep these on hand for quick and easy breakfast options.
  • Ice cream anyone? Satisfy your sweet tooth without the extra fat by stocking up on lighter varieties or have a 1/2 cup of plain vanilla topped with thawed frozen fruit.
Meat Poultry and Fish
  • Select lean cuts of red meat to reduce fat and cholesterol. Trim all visible fat before cooking. Marinate leaner cuts before cooking to tenderize.
  • Make your burgers healthier. Consider buying lean ground beef. Use 90% or better lean ground meat in burgers and other recipes. You’ll save on fat and your burgers will have less shrinkage.
  • Pork can be a leaner alternative to red meat. Try pre-marinated packaged pork loins that cook up in about 30 minutes.
  • Poultry: White and breast meat are the most lean. To cut down on fat with darker cuts remove the skin before cooking and bake, broil or grill. Keep cooked canned chicken on hand for quick and easy meals.
  • Enjoy fish! Many fish varieties like tilapia and flounder are naturally low in fat and fatty fish like salmon provide lots of omega three fatty acids that are good for your heart. Keep a variety of fresh, frozen and canned fish on hand for quick and healthy meals.