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Healthy, Fit & Fabulous: Healthy Family Shopping Tips

Healthy, Fit & Fabulous: Healthy Family Shopping Tips

By: Linda Winkler Garvin, R.N., M.S.N. ~

One of the least desirable activities for many individuals is the time spent grocery shopping.  I have summarized some tips that will result in purchasing food that stays fresh longer, minimize bacterial growth & provide healthier choices.

  • Time efficiency and more effective use of time
    • Shopping worksheet: also let the children help with the list, pick a new, whole grain bread or cereal, new flavor of yogurt, etc
    • Shop as your last errand before returning home
    • Shop for perishables last
  • Only purchase any food in good condition – with intact packaging
    • Nothing with a swollen appearance
    • No dents
    • Only intact, not torn labels
    • No soggy/misshaped boxes
    • No torn or leaky bags
  • Follow a healthy path in the store
    • Start with the perimeters: produce, fruit
    • Buy dairy, fresh, lean meat, chicken/turkey (no skin) and fish (fresh or frozen, canned light tuna and salmon) next
    • Include non-meat choices such as soy products, dried beans, nuts, seeds
    • End with the center isles to limit processed foods/snacks
  • For refrigerated items
    • Buy products labeled “keep refrigerated” only if stored in a refrigerated case, such as eggs, cheese, etc
    • Request that refrigerated and frozen products be packed & bagged together so they maintain their temperature on the way home
  • Buy only foods within time to be used in accordance with the expiration date. For example, use all deli meat within 3 days (unless frozen)
  • Choosing fresh produce
    • Pick fruits and vegetables with a rainbow of colors, crisp and firm
    • Avoid vegetables that look limp or showing signs of decay (limp green beans, yellow broccoli
    • Do not choose fruits that are bruised, but misshapen ones might be fine. Cantaloupe has a yellowish cast and can be odd shaped but will smell sweet if you smell the center indentation. Cut pineapple should not be brown or packaged with excessive juice.
    • Recommendations for where to buy fresh, local, pesticide-free and/or organic produce
      • Local farmers market
      • Specials in the produce aisle
      • Visit food Co-ops
      • Go to a local farm, orchard or berry patch to pick fresh goodies

  • If choosing frozen or canned vegetables, check the labels & choose ones that are low in sodium and fat.  Avoid products with sauces, additives or syrup and buy varieties packed in their own juice.
  • Choose non-fat or low-fat milk with calcium, vitamin D and protein daily:
    • Consider alternatives like soy, rice or almond milk.
    • Flavored milk may be a healthy alternative to soda or high sugar juice drinks

Linda Winkler Garvin, R.N., M.S.N., of Alameda, California, is Director of Health Management Associates, a health advocate and educator with an advanced degree in Nursing.  She assists individuals in navigating the complexities of their health problems from medical treatment, health insurance issues, management of health issues and chronic pain.  She is the author of several articles including, healthy lifestyles, travel, nutrition, health insurance, guided imagery & chronic health problems.  Learn more at or e-mail at