Grocery shopping tips for parents

March 29, 2016

Most parents understand that healthy cooking and smart nutritional choices originate at the grocery store. But if you're like every other parent, juggling work, daycare hours, children's activities and other obligations, the time, energy and money it takes to make optimal healthy shopping decisions seem to fall to the wayside. However, with a few simple tricks you can have the entire family enjoying a deliciously healthy dinner every night of the week - without breaking the bank.

If you're looking to save time and money - while still keeping it healthy - follow these helpful tips for grocery shopping.

Make a list
Venturing out into the sea of shoppers playing bumper cars with their shopping carts is a daunting task. Care.com recommends making a list before setting out for your weekly grocery shopping trip. Break the list down by breakfast items, snacks, lunch time necessities and dinner ingredients. By planning out meals for each night of the week in advance, you can better create a list of the exact ingredients you'll need.

Map it out
A good rule of thumb for healthy food shopping from Kids Health is to focus your grocery trip on the outer aisles of the store. These are where the natural, healthiest whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, fresh meat and fish and dairy products are found. In comparison, the inner aisles are where you'll find the unhealthy, highly processed, prepackaged snacks and junk food. While it's still necessary to pick up cereals, grains, 100% juice and other healthy products from these aisles, tackle these rows last so that you'll be less likely to make an unhealthy purchase.

Focus on the outer aisles of the grocery store, where the  natural, healthiest whole foods are.Focus on the outer aisles of the grocery store, where the natural, healthiest whole foods are.

Read nutrition labels
A great way to ensure that you're filling your cart with nutritious, healthy foods is to read the labels. As doing this for each one would be extremely time consuming, make it a rule to check the labels on any new foods you're buying for the first time. According to Care.com, best-selling author Lisa Leake from the New York Times advises avoiding products with artificial colors and flavors. Instead, Leake recommends sticking to food items that have five or less whole ingredients.

Buy seasonal
When it comes to produce, knowing what is in season can help to save money. Kids Health suggests buying only the fruits and vegetables that are currently in season. Not only will the seasonal fruits be less expensive than the ones that had to be shipped from hundreds of miles away, but they'll also taste fresher and juicier. You can also use this tip as a great education lesson for your little ones, according to the source. Bringing them to local berry patches in the summer, orchards in the fall and farms in the spring, they'll learn when blueberries, apples and pumpkins are best in season. The kids will be delighted to come home with their very own basket of berries.

Use seasonal fruits and vegetables as an educational opportunity to teach your little one.Use seasonal fruits and vegetables as an educational opportunity to teach your little one.

Compare and coupon
While clipping coupons may seem out of date, it can still help you save money on many grocery store items. Today, there are plenty of mobile apps for coupons that can help to save you both time and money on your next trip down the cereal aisle. NewParent blog advises against getting too comfortable always shopping at the same store. The source suggests making a list of the staple items that you consistently buy week after week. Spending just a little bit of time doing your research can help you to find the best deals and prices on these items in your area. If time allows, don't be afraid to pick up milk, eggs and bread at a wholesale store, while doing the rest of your shopping at your local grocer.

Engage the kids
If you decide to take your children to the supermarket with you, be sure they have had a nutritious snack beforehand. That way, their grumbling little tummies won't have them begging you for their favorite treats. Once you've got them fed and into the store, designate tasks. Ask your little one to help you pick out the shiniest apples, while your older child assists in lifting other items into your cart. Care.com reports that the benefits of this are three-fold. Not only are you distracting them from the cookies and candy, you're spending quality time together and you'll get the shopping done in record time!

Engaging the help of your little one at the grocery  store will benefit you both.Engaging the help of your little one at the grocery store will benefit you both.

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