We all lead busy lives and finding the time to eat healthily as a family can be a challenge. With some simple planning when shopping you can really help with healthy eating and save some money too. Safefood's Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan has this advice.
Make a list and stick to it – Write a list of what you and your family plan to eat in the coming week and stick to this while shopping. This will help you spend less on impulse buys and you’re not as likely to get distracted and pick up less healthy foods or things you don’t need.
Avoid shopping when hungry, rushed or stressed – Have a snack before you go food shopping and make sure you have plenty of time to make sensible and practical decisions.
When shopping with children - talk to them in advance about what they’ll be allowed to have so they know what to expect – bring some chopped fruit or popcorn with you for the journey.
Beware of special offers - Buying ‘special offers’ can be very useful from an economic point of view but it can also end up with us buying what we don’t want, so beware.
Get to know your food labels – Food labels can be a bit confusing but comparing like-for-like products when shopping can allow you to choose a healthier option rather than making up your mind based on just one food item alone.
Be careful with ‘treats’ – Try to reduce the number of fatty and sugary ‘treats’ in your shopping trolley. Choosing a few mini or snack-sized versions of favourite treats can have a real impact on a family’s health. We’re often tempted to stock up on tasty treats ‘just in case’ we might have visitors. It’s unreasonable to expect the family or any of us to just pass by and leave them uneaten. Buying stocks of ‘treats’ just doesn’t work!
Check ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates to make sure that you can keep the food until you intend to eat it. You will find 'use by' dates on foods that are very perishable, such as cooked meat products, prepared foods and salads. Foods should not be eaten after the end of the 'use by' date as this could be a health risk. 'Best before' dates are used for less perishable foods and give an indication of when food will be of the best quality rather that indicating its safety. So when the best before date runs out it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture. The exception to this is with eggs that should not be eaten after the 'best before' date.
Stock up on tinned, dried and frozen fruit and veggies. All types of fruit and vegetables count towards your five-a-day. It doesn’t matter whether they're fresh, frozen, tinned or dried – they’re still full of goodness. So bring some home for your cupboard or freezer to have when you’re running low on fresh supplies.