10+ Smart Grocery Shopping Tips for a Healthy Diet

Updated on November 16, 2019
Kaitlyn Lo profile image

Kaitlyn has a background in psychology and writes articles that teach you how to lean on your body, mind, heart, and on those around you.

Building a Healthy Diet Is Easier Than You Think

Cooking healthy meals every day is hard. But it’s even harder when you don’t have the right ingredients in your kitchen. With so much conflicting nutritional information out there and so many choices each screaming for you to buy them, it’s understandable when many people get so overwhelmed that they just settle for whatever looks good and is most convenient.

And that’s unfortunate. Because as long as you follow a few basic grocery shopping rules, you can stock your kitchen with nutritious essentials to build a sustainable, healthy diet.

Poll: Home-Cooked Meals

How often do you eat home-cooked meals?

See results

What to Shop for to Build a Healthy Diet

By Fancycrave. CC0 Creative Commons.
By Fancycrave. CC0 Creative Commons. | Source

When you’re heading out for your next grocery trip, this is what you should do when shopping for these grocery staples.

1. Fresh Produce

You should always make the produce section your first stop when entering the grocery store. Choose as many fruits and vegetables as you’d like in as many different colors as possible. Every color of fruit or vegetable reflects a different nutrient composition, so the more colors you eat, the wider variety of vitamins and minerals you’ll be putting into your body.

2. Dairy

Dairy-based foods are a great source of calcium and Vitamin D but can be high in fat and calories. You can either do some portion control by yourself or choose lower-fat options. Steer clear of drinkable yogurts and other flavored dairy products because those products usually contain too much added sugar. If dairy isn’t your thing because of lifestyle choices or intolerance, soy-based products are an excellent and nutritious alternative.

3. Meats, Seafood, and Poultry

Choose lean cuts of red meat like round, top sirloin, and tenderloin. Go for skinless poultry like chicken breast or skinned drumsticks (or make sure to skin them yourself at home). Salmon and mackerel are widely available, are a great source of omega-3s and low-calorie protein. Since most seafood is lean and low in calories, don’t be afraid to try different kinds of seafood. Crab, shrimp, and scallops can be delicious protein alternatives.

The frozen foods section is a smart way to find out-of-season frozen fruits and vegetables so you can make sure that your diet doesn’t suffer during the colder months.

4. Bread and Pasta

Yes, you can eat bread and pasta! Just make sure to choose the least refined versions. Skip the white bread and pasta. Instead, go for bread and pasta that list “whole wheat” as its first ingredient. Pasta made with wheat alternatives is another delicious choice.

5. Cereal and Grains

For cereal, avoid the sugary or multi-colored breakfast cereals. Flavored instant oatmeals are also high in sugar. Granolas may taste great and seem healthy, but many health experts say that granola can contain a significant amount of fat and sugar as well. So, go for mueslis, steel-cut oats, and other whole-grain cereals that have at least 4 grams of fiber per serving and no added sugar.

For grains, choose less refined options like brown rice, mixed grains, quinoa, and barley.

6. Frozen Food

No, we’re not talking dessert here! We’re talking frozen produce. Fresh vegetables and fruit that are not in season are very expensive or completely inaccessible, especially in winter. The frozen foods section is a smart way to find out-of-season fruits and vegetables so you can make sure that your diet doesn’t suffer during the colder months.

7. Canned Foods

Canned foods can have a bad reputation in today's fresh, whole food, healthy-eating environment. But canned beans, seafood, and preserved/pickled vegetables can be a healthy and convenient way to throw extra fiber, nutrition, and protein into any dish. When choosing canned fish, make sure only to pick up the low- or no-sodium variety that’s packed in water, not oil. Also, when available, it’s also a good idea to choose cans that are marked BPA-free.

Poll: Favorite Fruit

What’s the one kind of fruit you always buy when you head to the grocery store?

See results

More Smart Grocery Shopping Tips for Healthy Eating

By Francycrave. CC0 Creative Commons.
By Francycrave. CC0 Creative Commons. | Source

1. Stay on the Outskirts

Avoid the inner aisles of the grocery store because that's where all the packaged, processed, and junky foods lie in wait for the opportunity to fall into your shopping cart. If you stick to the perimeter of the store, you’ll increase your chances of filling your cart with fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, and seafood - everything you need to build a healthy diet.

2. Fruit Over Juice

Avoid drinking juice as much as possible because any juice, no matter how fresh, is essentially liquid sugar. But when you eat a piece of fruit, the natural fiber in that fruit will cancel out the fructose. So if you’re craving juice, just eat the fruit instead. Fresh fruit is a lot cheaper than freshly squeezed juice too.

3. Check the Ingredients List

The longer the ingredients list, the more you should steer clear of the product. Especially when you see a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce or that have strange numbers attached at the end. Also, if sugar is anywhere in the top 4 of the ingredients list, it means there’s a lot of sugar in that product and that you should leave that item on the shelf.

4. Fortified Foods

Just because a food product is fortified with all kinds of vitamins and minerals, that doesn’t necessarily mean it's better for you. Most fortified food (like cereals) are highly processed and are inherently devoid of nutrients. That’s probably why the manufacturers had to fortify the food in the first place. You'll be much better off sticking with foods that are naturally nutritious instead.

By Kaboompics // Karolina. CC0 Creative Commons.
By Kaboompics // Karolina. CC0 Creative Commons. | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2018 KV Lo


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      These are great tips! You would be surprised when people grocery shop, they actually don't know how to shop healthily, giving in to the advertising of packaging.. It's ok, i used to be like that too! Follow this guideline and you will get healthier!! Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      This is great .i have removed bread and pasta from my diet , but am glad I can have at least a little

    • profile image

      Daima Hussain 

      2 years ago

      Great tips, I am currently on a heath gaining journey so this will help a lot.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Fab tips here, we try to be as healthy as possible and don't eat much processed food. Good point on the tinned food

    • profile image

      Fashion ans Style Police 

      2 years ago

      I love the tips here. I try to cook home cooked meals as often as possible. It's cheaper and healthier.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      home cooked meals are always a great choice if you want to eat healthy and save money. You have mentioned some wonderufl tips here

    • profile image

      sabrina barbante 

      2 years ago

      I agre with you and I generally try to follow these tips. I'd also add to choose week open air markets where farmers sell their products and learning about seasonalities is crucial. Never be in a hurry because hurry is the first enemy of wise and healthy shopping :-)

    • profile image

      Melanie Williams 

      2 years ago

      Some fab tips - I need to make more home meals, as it helps to make me be healthy lol x

    • profile image

      Erica D Ardali 

      2 years ago

      Really great tips. We are trying to eat better in our house and it can be so hard! At least these tips will help us shop better

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      ugh I knew I shouldn't have bought the orange juice! I was thinking this would be a good source of vitamin c bit I feel like I'm gaining weight. you're completely right, I should opt for fresh fruit instead!!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Fruit over juice is probably the easiest place I could make a difference. Thanks for the good read!

    • profile image

      2 years ago

      Great tips.....many of which I have started to implement since last summer. I have seen a lot of good but the hard thing is keeping up with it and not slacking.

      Thank you again for the reminder.

      D xo , from Live Dream Create - D

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Love the polls mixed in the article. It made me take step back to think about my meal habits. Great tips overall!

    • profile image

      Samantha Donnelly 

      2 years ago

      Some great tips here, it is easy to eat healthy and often a lot cheaper than buying processed foods x

    • profile image

      Kim Jones 

      2 years ago

      Really good tips for eating healthy! I've got to get better at portioning and adding more veggies to my meals.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Great tips really! I buy canned foods as well but it's mostly fish out my childhood memories. I try to buy healthier options. Frozen veggies are very easy to use and it's a great additions esp with prices being lower. It goes so well for broccoli, prices on fresh I absolutely crazy here

    • kweni16 profile image


      2 years ago from London

      I just signed up for a gym as part of my NY resolution to be fit and healthy. Your post just motivated me even further. I always end up eating junk but your tips plus discipline would get me to my goals :)


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