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HappyHealthy Newsletter: Shopping

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Publication Number: P3603
View as PDF: P3603.pdf

Does shopping for your family seem like a chore? Here are 10 tips to shop with ease while saving time, saving money, and selecting healthy foods.

Make a menu for the week.

  • Get input from family members.
  • Ask children for menu suggestions.
  • Create meals from leftovers.
  • Double recipes and freeze half for a busy day.

Check your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator to see what ingredients you already have.

  • Review recipes and make a list of what you need to buy.

Prepare a shopping list and stick to it!

  • Remember your shopping list when you go to the store.
  • Only shop on the aisles you need items from.

Buy only the amount of food you need.

Don’t shop when you are hungry or rushed.

When shopping, look for the following on food labels:

  • “Whole grain” for grains.
  • “Lean” for meats.
  • “Low-fat” or “fat-free” for dairy.
  • “No salt added” for canned or packaged foods.
  • “100% juice” for canned fruits.

Watch for sales, coupons, or other offers that may be online.

Pick produce that is in season.

As soon as you get home, refrigerate cold foods.

  • Refrigerate food within 2 hours of grocery shopping or 1 hour if air temperatures are above 90ºF.

Store fresh, unwashed produce in the refrigerator.

  • If you’re preparing produce immediately, wash it first.
  • Always store produce separately from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

Want to Pick Up Groceries Instead?

  • Download your local grocery store’s app and you can shop anytime.
  • Avoid peak pickup times. Allow for at least a 30-minute wait time. Plan the best time for your schedule.
  • Be aware of what you are ordering. Consider weight (1 lb.) vs. amount (1 item).
  • Select “no substitutions” to avoid receiving unwanted or higher priced items.
  • You can make changes after you place your order, but pay attention to the cut-off time.
  • Make sure you have plenty of room in your car.

Local grocery stores may offer online ordering and delivery. Contact your local store for more information.

Food Items to Have on Hand

  • Use this foods checklist for grocery shopping. Personalize the list with foods you frequently use.

In the Pantry

Breakfast and Cereals

  • Cereals (consider whole-grain varieties)
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancake mix

Can, Jar, and Pouch Foods

  • Fruits and vegetables (choose options without added sugar or salt)
  • Meat, poultry, and seafood (fish, chicken, or other meats)
  • Beans (pinto, black, garbanzo)
  • Soups (look for lower-sodium varieties)
  • Nut butter (peanut, almond)
  • Dried fruit
  • Sauces (tomato, spaghetti, pizza)
  • Salsa
  • Broth or stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

Grains, Pasta, and Sides

  • Bread (consider whole-grain varieties)
  • Tortillas or taco shells
  • Pasta (consider whole-grain varieties)
  • Rice (include some whole grain rice, such as brown rice)
  • Oats (old fashioned or rolled, quick, or steel-cut)

Baking and Cooking Supplies

  • Instant nonfat dry milk
  • Flour (consider whole grain)
  • Sugar (white granulated, brown)
  • Seasonings and spices (salt, black pepper, garlic, minced onion)
  • Oil for cooking (such as olive, canola, vegetable)
  • Vinegar


  • Onions
  • Potatoes


  • Crackers (consider whole-grain varieties)
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, etc.)

Condiments and Salad Dressings

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise (choose a lower-fat option)
  • Salad dressing

In the Refrigerator

  • Meat and seafood (beef, chicken, fish, pork)
  • Milk (fat-free or low-fat)
  • Cheese (block, shredded, sliced, or string and consider lower-fat options)
  • Yogurt (fat-free or low-fat and choose options with fewer or no added sugars)
  • Eggs
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Butter or margarine

In the Freezer

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat and seafood (chicken breast, ground beef/ turkey, pork loin chops, fish)
  • 100% fruit juice concentrate
  • Waffles (consider whole-grain varieties)
  • Bread (consider whole-grain varieties)

happy healthy

@happy healthyms

happy healthyms


Publication 3603 (POD-10-21)

By Madison Payne and Kelli Whitten, Mississippi State University Extension Service.

This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Department: Nutrition Education
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