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7 Tips for Making Sure You Actually Eat All Those Healthful Foods in Your Cart

7 Tips for Making Sure You Actually Eat All Those Healthful Foods in Your Cart Photo

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by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD

It’s easy to load up on healthful foods at the grocery store. And simply the act of doing so can make you feel good. You are taking charge of your health and filling your cart with wholesome, nutritious foods.

But then what? Unfortunately, aside from that positive, healthy feeling, (which is certainly a good thing), the effects of stocking up on healthful foods is not going to carry on much further if you don’t take the next step and prepare and enjoy your bounty!

After all, you were not buying all those veggies just to take up room in your refrigerator, were you?

Here are some tips on getting your healthful goodies from the cart to the table:

1 – Plan ahead. Yes, I know you have heard this so many times, but it really works. Plan out what you are going to cook before you shop.

2 – Be realistic. If you are on a “health kick,” it’s easy to get carried away with meal planning and be a little too ambitious about all the new recipes you are going to try that week. Make a goal of trying 1-3 new recipes or foods each week—whatever works for you. But keep it realistic and balance new recipes with old favorites.  Then shop accordingly and only buy what is on your list.

3 – Keep food organized. Your fresh ginger and lentils will be much easier to find if you put them away in an organized fashion. Just stuffing the plastic bag with that little piece of ginger in the back of a refrigerator drawer is a sure way to forget about it. Likewise, you will be reminded to use those lentils if they are neatly displayed in your pantry. If you really want to overhaul your pantry, invest in uniform glass or clear plastic storage containers.

4 – Prep what you can ahead of time. The more food you can prepare ahead of time, the more likely you will be to eat it. This is particularly true for foods that take longer to cook, such as brown rice, farro, lentils, dried beans, root vegetables, and soups. These foods also keep well for 3-4 days after cooked in the refrigerator, so you can cook them ahead of time and be ready to go for quick lunches and dinners. Just place them in reusable glass containers and label them with the contents and the date. Try writing directly on the container with a dry-erase marker.

5 – Keep fruit visible. Keep a fruit bowl or two on display, but keep it fresh. No one wants an orange that has been sitting out for a month. Put out a variety of fruits and if you have extra, keep them in the refrigerator and replenish the bowl as necessary. (If you notice the fruit is not being eaten, you may need to take the extra step and actually cut it up for your family—amazing what a difference this can make!)

6 – Keep vegetables visible and ready to go. Prepare a variety of raw vegetables to have on hand for a quick snack: carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell pepper, and snap peas are all great to have on hand for a quick snack or appetizer. They also make good additions to the lunch box.

7 – Make half your plate veggies. Make sure you are eating enough veggies by remembering that about half of what you eat at lunch or dinner should be veggies (or fruit). The other half should be a combination of whole grains and protein, along with a little healthy fat.  So offer up at least two vegetables with every meal to make this happen.

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