Grocery stores are great places to load up on nutrition superstars like fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and high-quality protein sources. Unfortunately, it’s also very easy to pick up other, not-so-healthy items while you’re there too. While shopping the perimeter is always a good rule to follow, there are lots of other little ways to make healthier choices in the grocery store!
1. Look at what you have already and make a list. Taking a quick inventory of what you’ve already got in the kitchen and pantry so you know exactly what kind of nutritious ingredients you need to come up with healthy meals!
2. Eat a small snack before you leave. We’ve all heard this one; shopping on an empty stomach makes you more likely to reach for anything and everything at the store. Check out 5 Healthy & Tasty Movie Snacks  for some quick ideas!
3. Spend most of your shopping time in the produce section. Try to fill up your cart or basket with mostly fruits and veggies, and then continue moving through the store after. Stocking your cart with a variety of fruits and vegetables gives you lots of options for meal planning, and ensures you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.
4. Try one new fruit or vegetable each time you shop. Instead of just breezing through and picking up the regular bananas, carrots, and celery stalks, look for something new that you can try. Even better, make this a game for your kids – allowing them to choose a new vegetable means they may be more likely to actually try it come dinner time!
5. In the dairy aisle, choose lower-fat organic dairy products. Milk, cheeses, and Greek yogurt are all offered in lower fat options, and are still packed full of the calcium and vitamins that you desire.
6. For yogurt in particular, try to choose Greek yogurt (a protein-packed yogurt !) or plain varieties without excess added sugars. If you’re still looking for that little bit of sweetness, try topping it with fresh or frozen fruit or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
7. In the meat aisle, look for leaner cuts of meat to cut down on saturated fat intake. These options include chicken breast, pork tenderloin, salmon, or tilapia. Add bursts of flavor with marinades – try making your own version to save on the salt and sugar found in most brands.
8. In the breads section, be sure to read the ingredient list! Don’t be fooled by claims of “multigrain” breads when they may be mostly refined flours. Always choose whole grain for a fiber-packed powerhouse!
9. Don’t be afraid of the aisles – although they are mostly full of processed, packaged items that you don’t need, there are still some great options hidden in there. Inside the aisles is where you can find canned/dried beans for another protein source, as well as items like pasta sauce, salsas, and other whole grain options like quinoa and bulgur.
10. Make an educated breakfast choice – the cereal aisle is full of sugary options, but there are also some great cereals, granolas, and oatmeal choices  there too! Focus on a breakfast that is low in sugar, high in fiber, and a good source of protein.
What is your best piece of grocery-store advice? Is there one item that you have on your list every week that you just can’t live without?
Assistance provided by Megan Skinner