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Aisle-by-Aisle Tips

Supermarket Survival Guide –
Aisle-by-Aisle Tips

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The average supermarket contains 40,000 items! Who has time to analyze every product for nutrient content? Here is an aisle-by-aisle guide for quick, nutritious shopping. I keep a very well stocked kitchen. I find that having the right ingredients on hand is key to quick and healthy cooking. This guide is an idea of what my well-stocked kitchen looks like. Sometimes I recommend a fat-free product and sometimes a low-fat product. This is for taste considerations. Some fat-free products taste good but for other products I prefer the low-fat version. Use your own taste when choosing between fat-free and low-fat products.

Fresh Produce
You've heard it before. Eat five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. They are low in fat and calories, high in fiber, and contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals. It's hard to go wrong in the produce aisle. You won't find nutrition labels on fresh fruits and vegetables, but there should be a sign or poster with nutrient content for the 20 most commonly eaten.

Best Bets: Brightly colored vegetables contain antioxidant vitamins that help us stay healthy. Dark green and deep orange-yellow fruits and vegetables are better choices than pale colored produce.

Take advantage of prewashed and precut vegetables. They help save time in the kitchen while fitting in those five-a-day. My local supermarket has a large section devoted to prepared items such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, squash, and salads. There are also a good variety of prepared fruits like melons and pineapple.

Beware: Salad bars are tempting and can be an easy way to quickly serve fruits and vegetables, but avoid items typically made with high-fat ingredients, such as potato salad, pasta salad, antipasto salad, Caesar salad, and coleslaw.

Canned and Bottled Foods
Canned foods are a great way to save time in the kitchen.

Best Bets:

  • Tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salsa. Stewed tomatoes and garlic-flavored tomatoes are good choices because they are already seasoned.
  • Marinara sauce with 3 grams or less fat per serving. Healthy Choice makes excellent sauces that are low in fat.
  • Chicken or vegetable broth. I prefer the low sodium variety.
  • Beans or legumes are an excellent way to quickly add protein and great flavor to a meal. They are also low in fat and high in fiber. My favorites are kidney beans, chick-peas, and black beans.
  • Canned vegetables can be used as an ingredient when preparing a quick meal. Corn, mushrooms, beets, sliced water chestnuts, and bean sprouts work well.
  • Canned fruit packed in fruit juice and applesauce make easy desserts. Cranberry sauce.
  • Tuna, sardines, clams, and salmon are all great ways to quickly add seafood to a meal.
  • Roasted sweet red peppers are a delicious low-calorie addition to any recipe. I use them in salads, sandwiches, and anyplace where I want to add extra flavor and color.
  • Fat-free gravy.
  • Evaporated skim milk is good to have on hand to use in place of cream in a recipe.
  • Natural-type peanut butter.
  • Fat-free salad dressings and mayonnaise are tasty time-savers.
  • A small amount of olives in a recipe can provide a large amount of flavor.
  • Monounsaturated oils to use in cooking. Olive, canola, and peanut oils are my favorites.
  • Stay away from processed foods that may contain a lot of fat, such as cream or alfredo sauce, vegetables in butter sauce, and some soups.
  • Canned and bottled foods can also have a high sodium content. There are many low-sodium varieties available if that is a concern to you.
Breads and Grains
What could be better than low-fat, high-fiber foods from the bottom of the Food Guide Pyramid? When I use grain mixes I don't add the fat as directed and the results are fine.

Best Bets:

  • Whole grain breads, bakery quality Italian or French breads, pita bread, bagels, English muffins, Italian pizza shells, and fat-free tortillas are all good choices. I keep them stored in the freezer.
  • Yolk-free egg noodles and pasta. Two of my favorite pastas are couscous and angel hair or capellini pasta. Couscous cooks in five minutes and capellini cooks in only three minutes. Near East makes wonderful seasoned couscous mixes.
  • Converted white rice and brown rice. I dislike the flavor of instant rice. I'd rather cook long-grain rice ahead of time than rely on instant rice.
  • Cracked wheat and bulgur. Near East makes wheat pilaf and tabbouleh mixes.
  • Pearl barley or Near East barley pilaf mix.
  • Cereals with less than 5 grams of sugar and more than 5 grams of fiber are ideal. In my house, sweetened cereals are considered part of the "junk food" group.
  • Low-fat crackers, rice cakes, and popcorn are good to have for snacking.
  • Staples such as whole wheat flour, all-purpose white flour, oats, cornmeal, and bread crumbs are essential to have on hand.
  • Steer clear of high-fat bakery items like croissants, muffins, doughnuts, pastries, and scones.
  • Some pasta and rice mixes can be high in fat, especially alfredo or cheese flavors.

Next: Page 2 >>

From The Weeknight Survival Cookbook: How to Make Healthy Meals in 10 Minutes by Dena Irwin, R.D. Copyright 1998 by Dena Irwin. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

To order this book visit www.wiley.com.

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