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Healthy eating starts in the grocery store. What we buy affects how well we eat. Despite this, consumer research shows that most of us go grocery shopping without a plan to help guide our choices. For example, less than one quarter of Canadians write out a list and stick with it. And we’re not having fun! In fact, 53% of us say that we don’t really enjoy shopping for food.

Planning can help you make grocery shopping a pleasant experience that doesn’t take a lot of time. Planning can also help you make the healthy choices you want to make. Try these simple tips when you head out on your next trip to the grocery store.

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Smart Shopping Tips

Know What You Want

  • Spend a few minutes planning out the meals your family will eat for the week.

  • Check your cupboards to see what you have on hand already and what you need to buy.

Make a List, Check It Twice, and Stick to It

  • Creating an organized list of the food you need will help you stay focused and on track.

  • Consider the meals you’ve planned for the week as well as healthy snack choices.

  • Arrange your list into categories, such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, canned goods, milk products, and meats or meat alternatives.

Have a Snack, a Nap, or a Break

  • Eat something before you head off to the grocery store to prevent impulse buying.

  • Avoid shopping when you’re hungry, tired, or short of time.

Go It Alone

  • If possible, leave young children or other “non-shoppers” at home.
  • If you bring your children along, let them help you. Talk about healthy food choices, and show them examples. Discuss prices. Let them help you to take non-breakable items off shelves or to bag produce.

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Understand the Lay of the Land

  • Shop the outer edges of the store first. Healthy choices from the four food groups tend to be on the outer edges of stores. See Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide for more information about the four food groups.

  • Avoid the high-fat and high-sugar foods on the shelves in the centre of the store.

  • Shop during non-peak hours when the store is less busy. Avoid late afternoons and weekends.

Learn About Labels

  • Use food labels to see differences between similar products. Choose nutrient-rich food.

  • Use the web to learn more about using food labels to make healthy choices.

Get Some Expert Advice

  • Many grocery stores offer guided tours led by dietitians to help you improve your shopping skills.

Make the most of grocery shopping. Commit to making healthy choices, and develop a simple plan to make it happen.

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Learn More

Great Food Fast Pantry List
Dietitians of Canada offers a Pantry List to help you stock your cupboards, fridge, and freezer with healthy choices.

Grocery Shopping the Healthy Way
Alberta Health Services shares simple solutions for heart-healthy, weight-wise grocery shopping.

Healthy Eating Is in Store for You
Want to learn more about using food labels to make healthy choices? Healthy Eating Is in Store for You provides a variety of resources that make food labels make sense.

Let’s Make a Meal
Dietitians of Canada’s Let’s Make a Meal feature allows you to plan healthy meals and snacks quickly and easily.

Shopping Tips for Healthy Food
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada offers practical strategies to help you move around the supermarket with confidence

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