Although we did make qualifying purchases on our last grocery shop, it looks like we still have some work to do when it comes to making better purchases when it comes to our grocery run. My last report from early July is 37% with only 19% of it being three star choices. Mind you, some of the items were not rated with stars on our list. We still could do better, I think. Changing your eating habits can be like trying to tame a wild beast. Sometimes you just have to start with smaller steps.
With our numbers in mind, I headed over to our local Loblaws store to speak to the Dietitian, Margaret and have her take a look at my Guiding Stars profile. Maybe she could help tame the beast!
Not only did she check out my profile and also notice we need a little work but she gave me a "healthy tour" of Loblaws.
During the tour we went through all of the healthy foods we should have in our grocery basket, how to substitute certain foods for other alternatives and also what to look for when it comes to labels - not all foods have stars!
When it comes to breakfast, the more whole grains the better. One trick to see how healthy your favourite cereal is, be it oatmeal or dry cereal, is to check the side panel and see what the first three ingredients are. If sugar is one of them, you should maybe find a new favourite start to your day. Plain oatmeal or cereal like Shredded Wheat is great because they are very low in sugar so you can add your own kind of sweet like brown sugar, fruit or maple syrup to taste.
We all know that milk, eggs, fruits and veggies are all three star choices when it comes to the nutrients we need for a balanced diet. Did you know frozen fruits or vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones? I love using bagged frozen fruit for smoothies!
Meat such as beef, are rated according to fat content. If you aren't sure, a good way to get less fat is to look for anything with "loin" and of course less white on the meat means less fat. Fish is a healthy option but as much as we like our breaded fish, it's better to buy it fresh - the pinker the better. You can make your own homemade breaded fish and add your own flavour instead. This doesn't mean stay away from frozen fish though, if you look for the ones with the blue label you can learn what exactly you're buying from the fish freezer.
Canned tomatoes and other canned veggies, lentils, beans and rice are obvious three star healthy choices and many are versatile meaning they can be used for many different recipes from soups to salsas. Just keep an eye on the pasta you buy, you'd be surprised that some contain ingredients you really don't need. Again, whole grain is the best way to go to get the nutrients you need from pasta.
During the hot summer months we want to keep everyone energized and hydrated. Water is an obvious choice to keep hydrated but what about other kinds of beverages? Most pre made juices and sport drinks tend to contain a lot of sugar, look at the label. The less ingredients in your juice the better especially if one of them is not added sugar. Margaret suggested buying sparkling water and adding fresh fruit to taste or even the pre made PC brand flavoured sparkling water is a yummy alternative to premade fruit juices to quench thirst and keep hydrated.
As for summer snacks, Margaret suggested simple and nutritious snacks like crackers and cheese or crackers and nut butters/spreads, homemade trail mix, Terra Chips (healthy alternative to potato chips) and frozen smoothies made of real fruit. Frozen smoothies can also be made into popsicles for the kids on a hot summer day. Very versatile and not to mention healthy.
The tour was very informative and I do feel more prepared to put what we've learned to the test on our next grocery run at Loblaws. We will be following the stars and looking for omegas, grains, fibres, vitamins and minerals, low fat and low sodium. We will be looking for a more wholesome version of our current grocery list.
Are you a PC Plus member? Did you know about your Guiding Stars Profile? It is an exclusive profile that lets you to see how healthy your grocery bill is each week when you use your PC Plus card while you shop, you can compare your goals to those of other PC Plus members in Canada. You can earn PC Plus points on certain items and learn new healthy eating habits thanks to Guiding Stars.