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Plan And Shop For Good Nutrition

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Planning meals in advance and preparing a shopping list is one of the best ways to maximize your time and effort.

ut of the corner of my eye, I noticed someone peering into my grocery cart.

“I was just checking to see what you put in your cart,” she said.

My brain did a scan of people I had met in my life. Was this someone from work? Was this someone from my hometown I haven’t seen in a long time? Does she read a paper that runs my picture with my articles?

She gathered from my blank expression that I didn’t recognize her and helped me by saying, “I recognize you from a workshop you presented.”

I nodded and said, “I think I’m doing pretty well with my food selections today.” I took a quick look at the contents of my grocery cart.

I admit that I look in other people’s carts on occasion as they go through the checkout in front of me. Sometimes I’m surprised

by the number of boxes of convenience foods, bags of chips and bottles of soda pop I see. I bite my tongue and say nothing.

When your job is to help people recognize healthy food selections and handle them safely, you feel compelled to follow your own advice. You feel a little guilty when you do not.

I looked closely at my groceries. Since I had been recognized, was I setting a good example?

My cart contained fat-free milk, a bag of fresh spinach, can of pumpkin, loaf of bread and an angel food cake mix. I would have rated quite well on a “nutrition meter” if such a thing existed.

However, had I been spotted a couple of days before, my nutrition-meter rating would have been questionable. I had three packages of cookies and, on the positive side, a gallon of milk in my cart. That time the cashier asked me if I had enough milk for all the cookies.

I shared the cookies with many people, by the way. They were on sale, too.

People are doing more cooking at home these days, because home cooking provides substantial savings and the opportunity to cook more healthful meals.

Planning meals in advance and preparing a shopping list is one of the best ways to maximize your time and effort.

When planning meals, mix up your plate with different textures, colours, shapes, sizes and temperatures each day. Incorporate a wide variety of foods from all the food groups into your meals.

The evening menu I had planned included ham, baked potatoes, corn, spinach salad, pumpkin cake and milk. Our plates would be colourful and nutrient rich. A colourful plate is a good indicator that you are getting a variety of nutrients and a balance of each of the food groups.

Consider these tips to maximize your time and nutrition:

Plan your menus a week at a time. To save money, use store ads as a basis for your menu plans.

Read your recipes and menus to see what you need.

Check your shelves and refr igerator for items you already have.

Make a grocery list and keep it on your refrigerator so you can add items as you need them.

– Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L. R. D., is a North Dakota State

University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

and associate professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

About the author

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Julie Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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