Posts Tagged supermarket

With the holiday season here, I turned to Leah McGrath, RD, LDN, Corporate Dietitian for the last ten years for Ingles Supermarkets in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Here are McGrath's responses in my first ever Holiday Supermarket Smackdown blog:

Best strategy BEFORE you set foot in the supermarket: First, gather your recipes and ideas and make a list. Plan to include some lean protein at every meal (for example seafood, pork loin, or even beans) and have more than just starchy vegetables as your sides; for example, try some colorful foods like dark green leafy vegetables (like kale or collards), Brussels sprouts, purple cabbage, bok choy, or broccoli.

9 must-have items to stock up on for the holidays:

1. Low sodium chicken/vegetable/beef broth. Great as a starter or base for making soups, stews and gravy.

2. Canned pumpkin. A great source of beta carotene, plus you can use it to make smoothies, pancakes, breads, and muffins--and of course, to make pie.

3. Whole grains such as whole wheat pasta and brown rice. These are great to have with leftover turkey or ham.

4. Canned beans. These can be used to make soups, stews, and casseroles with leftovers, or use them to make chili or have as an appetizer.

5. Good quality spaghetti sauce. You can only eat leftovers so many times, and you may really get a craving for a pasta dish one night.

6. Butter/Canola blend. This can be used as a spread instead of butter or margarine, and also works well in many recipes for baked items.

7. Eggs. You ALWAYS need eggs for baking or to make breakfast items.

8. Fresh herbs. There's nothing quite like fresh herbs to add a flavor dimension to stuffing and sides...sage, basil, oregano...dried are fine if you can't find or keep fresh ones.

9. Fage 0% plain Greek yogurt. Makes a great calcium-rich base for dips or smoothies, or to have as part of your breakfast or in-between meal snack.

Top money-saving tips to help you feed lots of hungry mouths:

Plan, plan, plan; use coupons; check for sale items; buy store brands whenever possible; and ask relatives or friends to make their favorite dish or bring a beverage when they're coming over for a holiday meal. Having said that, be sure and keep your eyes open for fruits and vegetables that are in season and look especially fresh; these are great to incorporate daily into your meals and snacks.

4 shop-smart strategies:

1) Don't go shopping when you're stressed out or really short on time and try not to wait until the last minute. Also, don't shop late at night; often stores are not continuously stocked after 6pm.

2) Don't go shopping when you're hungry-- this can be fatal! Everything will look too good and it'll be hard to resist when you're hungry.

3) Bring reading glasses (if you need them) to check the unit price so you can make the best shopping decision.

4) Be sure to look on top and bottom shelves-- sometimes you'll find the best deals there.

5 rules for calorie- and health-conscious people:

1) Don't be fooled by packaging, or led astray by numbers or stars-- read the Nutrition Facts Panel.

2) Pay attention to portion sizes.

3) If you're buying things in bigger quantities to save money, this may not be a wise thing to do if the foods tempt you. If that's the case, buy smaller amounts so you'll eat less of them!

4)  If you're very tempted by certain foods like ice cream or chips, either don't buy them, or buy them in flavors you don't like so other family members or friends can enjoy them.

5) Try to buy packaged items that have the fewest ingredients-- those that aren't full of artificial flavors, colors or additives.

How kids can help mom or dad with grocery shopping:

Kids can help you create a holiday meal (and a list of items that go along with the meal). At the grocery store, they can weigh produce items, match coupons with products, find items on the grocery list, and keep a running tally of how much money you're spending on a calculator/cell phone.

What helps you when you shop over the holidays?

Leah McGrath, RD, LDN is the Corporate Dietitian of Ingles Find her on Twitter as @InglesDietitian or follow Ingles Supermarket on Facebook Leah also hosts a radio program that streams on on Saturday mornings at 8:05EST; you can listen to podcasts of her previous shows on the Ingles website. 

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I recently spoke with my friend and colleague Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, author of the new book Read It Before You Eat It (Plume) which just hit book store shelves. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation....

What inspired you to write a book about food labels?

Reading food labels is often confusing and sometimes downright misleading. So many of my patients say "I wish I could take you shopping with me," so I decided this was the best way to accomplish this task! Not even one brand or manufacturer is mentioned within its over 250 pages, so my book allows consumers to be able to shop in any food store anywhere.

What's the biggest misconception people have when it comes to reading food labels?

Although you shouldn't feel like you need to be dietitian or mathematician to buy food, or feel as though a supermarket is more like a library, a big problem is that so many of us rush when we go food shopping. We don't take the time to read labels and compare products. We spend more time buying shoes and clothes - items that go ON our bodies instead of IN our bodies. Consumers need to learn how to not be fooled by the flashy front of the package and instead, flip the box or bag over to check the facts…the Nutrition Facts Panel…to see what’s really in the food they spend their money on.

What about food labels is the most confusing to consumers?

I have a whole chapter dedicated to “Tricky Terms” in my book because consumers are often mislead by words like “organic,” “natural,” and “local,” as well as labels that boast “sugar-free” or  “fat-free.” These foods aren't always quite what they seem!

Even the listing for “serving size” can be misleading. For example, a serving may appear as “1/2 muffin” or “1 cookie,” but to most of us, that portion is unrealistic and many people don’t realize that you have to multiply the numbers on the label by the amount of servings you actually eat.

Another confusing label term is the one listed as “zero grams of trans fat;” many of these foods are actually allowed to contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. “Zero” should really mean zero. If consumers see hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats listed on the package’s ingredient list, that means the product actually contains some trans fats. I could go on and on about these claims…

What should people expect to get out of your book? How should they best use it?

My book breaks down the lingo to show consumers how to sidestep tricky marketing ploys and shop smart. It’s reader-friendly and gives an aisle-by-aisle guide to picking the best foods in each section of any grocery store. It makes great company at the supermarket; readers will find that food shopping will never be the same!

About the Author:

Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN is the owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants with offices in Long Island and in New York City. She was a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and is a regular guest on national television and radio programs and in the press. For more about Bonnie and her work, visit

Would you like to WIN a copy of Read It Before You Eat It? You can enter for a chance to win by doing one or more of the following; ONE winner will be selected at random on September 7th, 2010.

1) Post a comment on this blog post (please provide your email address as well);

2) Follow me on twitter at @elisazied; if you're already on twitter, send me a nutrition question you'd like answered in a future blog post or ZIED GUIDE newsletter. And/or you can RT any post that mentions this giveaway.

3) If you're on Facebook, post a question or comment to me at And/or you can repost any of my posts on Facebook that mention this giveaway.

Thank you, and good luck!! :)

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author's publisher. My book Nutrition At Your Fingertips is also mentioned as a reference, and I am thanked in the acknowledgements section of the book.

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