How to Grocery Shop Like a Nutritionist

Editor’s Note: This post comes to you from our healthy living contributor, Carolyn Brown, M.S., R.D., a registered dietitian from Foodtrainers, a private nutrition practice in Manhattan.

While grocery shopping is one of my personal favorite hobbies, I know some people can’t relate… After all, the average grocery store contains more than 35,000 different products! Since you are probably not planning to spend your spare time wandering aisles and comparing crackers, here are a few of my favorite market tips for healthy eating and cooking.

Bring a recipe or two. We’ve all felt the “a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear,” and on the same page, who hasn’t gone on a big market trip and come back with a fridge full of food with nothing to make for dinner? Bring a recipe with you so you have all the ingredients and know what’s on the menu.

Stick to the perimeter 90% of the time. The perimeter is where the healthier foods like fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat, fish, poultry and their frozen versions are stored. In general, the center aisles are filled with the processed items we want to avoid. Do pop into the aisles for beans (canned are fine), nuts, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa.

Ingredients first, nutritional facts second. Most people go directly to the nutritional facts panel, but it is more important to me that you read the ingredient list and know exactly what you are eating. Skip anything you don’t recognize (or tweet it at me and I will give you a “Yay! or “Step away!”).

Love that freezer. Always get a few frozen goodies. I am a freezer junkie with fruit and a few veggies; I can always make a smoothie or a veggie loaded dinner in a pinch. Of course steer clear of most of the salt-laden and weird-ingredient-filled frozen dinners. A few nutritionist-approved brands are Organic Bistro, Sunshine Burgers, Evol Bowls.

Your basket should look like you came from a farm, not a factory. When you’re checking out take a look at your cart contents, are most of your groceries fresh and unpackaged? Great, happy eating!!

Shop a few favorite grocery shopping essentials below!

Is grocery shopping a chore for you? Any market tips you live by? Tell us below.